says friends come for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
Irecently caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen in six years. The last time we saw each other was in a pub in London in 2011. We’d been inseparable when we were at university in Perth.
Then life happened. I moved to Melbourne and he moved to London.
It was so good to see him again. We caught up on our major life events. He had a child now! How could the guy who used to fall asleep with a half-eaten Big Mac on his chest after too many beers be responsible enough to have a child? We had grown up.
As I walked away from the catch-up, I remembered a saying my mum told me when I was younger.
You have friends for a reason, for a season and for life. I didn’t appreciate it then, but now I can see it is true, and they all have their place.
Think about the friends you met for a reason. It might have been through sport, during an illness, or while travelling overseas – you had a shared purpose. At the time you were inseparable, but now only see each other at shared events.
Then there are the friends you met during an extended period in your life – a season. It might have been at university, or work, or when you had young kids, or when you lived interstate for a while. You spent those years joined at the hip, but the catch-ups now are few and far between. Then there are those friends you’ve known forever. You met them during your formative years, or found them along the way, but they have remained by your side through it all – births, deaths, marriage, break-ups. You have periods when you speak often and then other times when you don’t see each other for years. But no matter how much time passes, you just pick up where you left off. These are your friends for life. Friendships are hard to maintain as you get older. Kids, work and life make time a premium, and catch-ups with friends can be the first thing to go. A life lived without close friends is a lonely, unfulfilled life. But it’s about the quality of those friends, not the quantity. A good friend is not someone who remembers to say happy birthday because Facebook told them to, or who only calls if they need something. A good friend may forget your birthday or not return your call for weeks, but when you do meet up you feel better for seeing them. Lighter, happier, enriched. Someone who will leave a dinner on the doorstep but not come in. Someone who loves you just the way you are – whether you are grumpy, tired, busy or absent.
I think too often friendships become a stress, a burden, a relationship built on guilt. And they don’t need to be like that.
It’s OK to have friends who are there just for a reason, or during a season. It doesn’t diminish that friendship; it just allows you to move on when you no longer have combined interests, without the awkwardness. It doesn’t mean you won’t have a laugh when you do cross paths again, but the expectation to maintain regular contact is gone.
The friend I mentioned at the start is just that, a friend from a season. A really lovely season. We shared some of the funniest times of life together, but we don’t need to see each other every second week. There is no pressure from either party, no disappointment, no guilt. I know we will catch up again and enjoy every minute of it, but if that’s not for another seven years, that is OK.
And, you know what, the relaxed nature of our friendship and the lack of expectation might just mean we actually become friends for life.
“A good friend doesn’t say happy birthday just because of Facebook”