The changing meaning of friendship

Greetings readers.

I know I’ve previously written a ‘short’ about friends and family but I would like to delve a little deeper into friendship.
Whether we care to admit it or not, our views on friendships begin from our own experiences within our family life and upbringing from childhood.
Some people can jump between family and friends, with an understanding that they each have their own important parts to play in our lives.
Some always put family first, under the understanding that blood is thicker than water and family ‘should’ be there for us, when everyone else is not.
While others, always put friends first, usually because, whether they care to admit it or not, their family life was (in some way) emotionally and or psychologically damaging to them growing up.

Some say friends, especially good friends, become the family ‘you choose’ and there are some truths in that statement.
We are social creatures, even the most anti-social individual needs some form of additional human interaction, even if it’s limited.
We should always remember that there are always two sides to a story, if someone is estranged from their family, it can be for numerous reasons, blame and fault can be found on both sides but usually there is a breakdown of communication, which either one or both sides refuse to rectify.
From personal experience I have found that if I’m willing but other parties are not, no amount of prayers, hoping or wishing is going to change things which God has obviously ‘allowed’ to be put in motion, for His greater plan and purpose.
Before I fully understood the above, I would emotionally fight hard to try to rectify problems with relatives, friends and associates, now, after trying a couple of times, I leave situations alone.
However, my door is always ajar and humble souls are always welcome to knock and come in, for loving reconciliation.

Family first, can be a great slogan, if the philosophy is followed with balance and fairness.
Some follow this motto, no matter what, blindly standing by their relatives, with bias, even if their family members actions are wrong.
Those individuals, display the most bias, usually berating others for incorrect behaviour, while overlooking the same actions committed by their own family members/relatives.

Then there are those who will always choose friends over relatives, whether the perceived angst with family members, are real or fictions of the mind.
There is one particular case, where the individual has always looked outside of their home for friendship (replacement family) and validation.
However, the moment she gets close to people and they begin to echo the truths, she hears from family members, what was once a brilliant friendship, becomes a, we no longer talk situation.
At some point, we have to realise, if certain patterns are repeated, it usually means the problem lies mostly with us, in the way we act or respond, not the ‘other’ individuals.

Questions

However, what about friendship, has the definition changed over the years?

Can a friend we had at 5, still be a great friend at 15, 25, 35 or 45?

Are the mentalities of people changing so radically, that friendship no longer has the same meaning?

Can we meet and know more about someone in a year, than we do about someone we’ve “known” for over 10 years?

Does culture, ethnicity, languages spoken and colour, alter the way in which we view friendship?

How about mixed gender friendships, can they work without getting complicated?

Can married people have their own individual friends outside of their marriage, without it affecting their marriage?

Can you really call someone you met online on a SMP, a friend?

Can you be a good friend to others, if you don’t trust people?

Can we call ourselves a good friend, if all we ever do is a one-way non-reciprocal use of people, for their skills, time, resources or money?

As a friend, how long can we keep making the first moves to contact others, before we get fed up?

If we no longer feel the same way about a once good friend, how long do we allow them to think otherwise, before we have an honest conversation to confess the changes of our emotions?

Can ex-partners become friends, especially if in new relationships?

Can you maintain a respectful friendship with someone, if you have emotional and physical feelings for them, which are not reciprocated?

Can a person ever be considered a good or best friend, if they continue to hide who they really are from others?

Can we ever change and adapt as a friend, if we don’t like or even hate anyone telling us the truth about ourselves?

Do we really help ourselves, if we expect others to be mind readers and ‘know’ what it is they may or may not have done to us?

Can we ever expect to be trusted as a friend, if we are afraid or refuse to tell others what we really think, especially if we share with others and not the individual involved?

Are we ever going to change for the better, if we ghost, air, blank or block the true friend, who is willing to tell us the truth, no matter what?

Can we expect to move on with our lives and create new friendships, if we are stuck in the traumas and betrayals of our past?

Can we expect to learn and grow as an individual and a friend, if we refuse to look back at our past, as a reference point, to learn from past situations?

Are we doing the best to maintain our brotherhoods and sisterhoods, especially is some have the negative tendency of being a frenemy, pursing their so-called-friends partners?

Do men still value brotherly love and are women still determined to uphold the sisterhood?

Is the concept of friendship overrated, can we really get by in life by just working with ‘associates’, without having any real friends?

The words ‘microwave’ and ‘disposable society’ comes to mind and bears relevance in order to answer many of the questions above.
If you’ve read my linked previous posts “Real friends and family, honesty and love” and “More on communication” some of the answers to above questions are listed in those two posts.
For those of us who have next to no family left alive, the adopted or those who have emigrated, to list a few examples, friends become an essential part of our social and connective life.
Effective communication, by developing the art of listening without interruption, responding and referring to what the other person has said and sharing your thoughts openly and honestly are essential tools in maintaining a friendship.

Today, many people just don’t want to take the time to slow down and process.
The brains seem to be wired to want instant gratification and instant acceptance of whatever it is they desire, without going through a process of learning and development.
I mentioned the need to be ‘interested’ in my previous post but classic examples of the short attention span comes into play with the scroll culture and excessive small bytes of information which SMPs like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook encourage.
Trying to get the same people to take a ‘Selah moment’ to slow down and read books, information pieces on websites etc. has become increasingly difficult.
It’s a skill which would appear to only be maintained by the mature, those who are use to spending more time in the higher education studying posses, avid book readers, readers of the Bible or followers of religious books.
It’s a worrying trend, as this re-programming of the brain has shifted over into our actions and interaction with others.
Many not only have short attention spans, they have a short tolerance levels of to others, especially when people do not behave exactly how they want them to behave.
It was once 3 strikes and a person was out, with many, it has now become 1 and done.

FSAC_TheFWord

As quickly as people block, delete, close SM accounts and set up new ones, is as quickly as they can disregard or disconnect from once close friends and family/relatives.
For many, forgiveness, is a bigger, more dirtier F word than the one which rhymes with truck.
What if Yeshua was like that with us, 1 and done?
How many would be left standing to share the realities of His patience and His love?
Maybe this was the intention of the IT and Tech corps all along, the re-wiring of the brain with small and frequent information overload, always turning over new information, never giving the susceptible, time to digest and think about any one particular subject for any period of time.
A frightening thought, I’m glad I’ve escaped that cult-like tech programming.

Speaking of Yeshua, He showed the example of having the large friendship group and having an inner circle of close friends John, Peter & James.
Do you have an inner circle?
Those who you can talk to on a deeper level, friends you can be as honest with, as they are honest with you.
Those who look to positively inspire you without any envy or jealousy, as you do the same for them.

My inner circle was larger, however after leaving religious organisations behind, the death of my close friend in 2016, the showing of the levels of faith and understanding among some of my relatives, it is now down to 2 people, 1 of my sisters and my wife.
I’m an example (especially when I was in religious circles) of being most people’s go-to guy, because I helped others to get things done.
The moment I moved away from the religion, the out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality kicked in with others and a ‘supposedly’ large group of so-called-friends diminished.
It showed how I was viewed, however, I look back and use the scenarios (there are many) to teach me valuable lesson’s on how to love, forgive and interact with others; maturity also helps.
Also, it’s worth pointing out that many organisations (faith-based, work-based, educational-based & sports/leisure-based etc.) have a habit of slipping into cult-like behaviour with their members.
They share the ‘we are family’, ‘we’re here for you’ mantras which can guilt and manipulate their members into having an unnatural sense of obligation to those organisations.
That guilt and obligation can cause people to stay in situations way longer than they should.
Sadly, when individuals gain the strength and determination to move on, it can leave deep emotional scars causing a distrust of others, obviously affecting their ability to make new friends.
Fortunately for me and mine, we wasn’t affected in that way but I have seen it happen with others.

FSAC_FriendshipCircle

I saw a couple of variations of this graphic on Twitter recently and it resonated with me and others, by the number of likes and shares they received.
I don’t have my dog(s) yet and my situation is not that drastic but I do understand the sentiment.

The cancel, delete and block culture has infiltrated all parts of society, many do not want to be asked questions, are easily offended by ‘difference’ adopting in person, the walking out of a room when they dislike the direction of a conversation or the sitting in complete silence.
Obviously, we all have a right to reply or not but how do things ever get resolved or understood, if we don’t communicate?
“I don’t want to talk about it” is the right of every individual but it has become a weapon to disarm those who are trying to ‘know something’, usually used by hyper-sensitive individuals.

FSAC_BeYourself

I’ve realised for a while, that the best way for any individual to get the friends they really need around them, is to be themselves.
I just don’t understand those who create multiple persona’s for work, being around relatives, their social friend groups, faith groups or being online.
That is exhausting work, how do they keep up with all the pretence?
Besides, I know way too many who would love to expose me (if they could) for being a fraud, so I avoid giving those haters the pleasure by always trying to keep it real, online or offline.
You would think that honesty and openness would be loved and appreciated, in my experience a growing number of people want to control what you say, how you say it and would prefer you to lie to them, not really a foundation for friendship is it?
WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) with me, that way, you can avoid me, if I’m just ‘too much’ for you, or come get to know me, if you want an honest friend who will not only allow you to be yourself but also tell you about yourself, as you would be able to do to me.
I’m not one-sided, I don’t just give, I can receive too.

Thankfully, I still have the ability to discern and know, even with people online, what they are about, still choosing to show both cordiality and love, depending on the personality type.
My past is not a snare for me, I refuse to walk in fear of being hurt or not trusting people.
Maturity and experience has taught me when and how to use caution and being a bit more reserved than I once was, until I get to fully know an individual and their behavioural patterns.

Unlike other posts, in which I give variations of answers to posed questions, I’ve chosen to leave the questions in this post open, in an attempt to generate thoughts and encourage dialogue.
I will obviously be filling in the blanks within the Book, no doubt about that.

As always, I appreciate you stopping by, reading and hopefully leaving a comment, sharing your experience on the topic or asking your own question(s).

Much Love.

Phil G
Watiwa Mtoto wa Yeshua
G Man

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5 thoughts on “The changing meaning of friendship”

  1. My family members are my everything. Even though, we’re continents apart. We’re very strong willed, kind, honest and fair individuals. Things don’t get sugar coated to make us feel better. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
    I come across a lot of people in different areas of life who want some kind of a relationship, possibly a friendship. Unfortunately, I’m not in the market. Hopefully people can find that which they hope to in others within themselves. That’s ‘the work’
    Cheers

    Reply
    • BB,
      In listening to how you describe your family, you have the kind of family dynamic I wish I had with more than just one of my relatives.
      Is that your family in particular or is it a cultural thing, from your part of South Africa? Either way, I like it.
      You’re a woman on a mission, you’re probably finding out that real men find a woman who knows what she wants and is focused on achieving those goals, very attractive.
      I agree with you on staying focused and completing your vision without distractions.

      Thank you for sharing.
      See you around the cyberverse.

      Reply
      • I don’t know how to answer the part about men. There’s a part of human beings that wants the other person to do what they want vs what the person does want. When you’re strong willed and goal driven (especially as a female) it can be intimidating to the other person and seem like ure stubborn and maybe don’t care about them enough. But u can love someone and still pursue your goals. You don’t prove your care for someone by neglecting yourself.
        I hope this somewhat answers you

        Reply
  2. Thank you! I think it’s a little bit of both. Then again, South Africans changed a lot…. For the worst over the years. Just my opinion. I like to observe human behavior.

    Reply

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