Friday, September 18, 2009

It's a Two-Way Street, Except When It's Not

September 18, 2009

Sometimes, you find yourself in the unique position of being able to see out of both sides of the mirror simultaneously.

Being a friend, one with whom you exchange ideas, experiences, and affection, is a two-way street--a road of mutual reciprocity. Except when it isn't. Over the years, we meet people along our path through common interests or real estate, as it were, and we connect for a time. Some of those people are temporary fixtures in our lives, some of them much more permanent. Some drift away and then fate or circumstance brings you back together again. All of these friendships serve important purposes in our lives at any given time.

There are some friendships, though, that outlast their original purpose or shared context, but remain intact due to nostalgia or habit. That's fine if it's mutual, but can be awkward or difficult if one attempts to maintain the remnants of the bond while the other distances him or herself. When only one recognizes that the time has come to move on but doesn't choose to reach out and cut the ties, it can cause hurt feelings or confusion on the part of the one left behind.

I myself am guilty of doing just this--allowing a friendship to languish where the common bonds that once held us together are mere memories, fleeting glimpses of the past. Rather than simply break it off, I have just hoped that time and distance would subtley hint at the chasm that has grown between us and allow her to move on. It hasn't, and I am too much a coward to simply call it what it is.

And then there's the other side of the mirror--the one where I continue to pursue a friendship where it appears that there is no longer one, despite my better judgment. Something inexplicable causes me to hang on to what is no longer there. I suppose I am guilty of the same optimism that lots of us are, seeking to find acceptance and welcome in the ones who have given it before.

Without knowing why, despite the clarity that I see looking in and looking out through the mirror, I continue to stand a coward in the face of one and an optimist in the face of the other. Knowing is one thing; acting on it is quite another.


  1. A very difficult thing to do - cutting ties. One you know I would not be confident enough to do! I have just a few really close friends, and my best friend (other then the Mr.) is my sister. I know I need to "widen my circle" as the kids get older, but damn I hate those social situations!

  2. I'm guilty of the languish and die approach. Of course, now my circle of friends are entirely cyber so maybe that wasn't the best approach.

  3. I know what you mean. I think ending a friendship that's faded is like leaving something un-done or a failure of sorts, in our minds, even though that's ridiculous. That's just my theory. And sometimes, when other people don't reach back, we just have to let them go. It hurts, but what else can we do?

  4. Since becoming a stay at home mom, my single friends have all drifted away. I have become friends with several other moms. Sometimes I wonder if I really like these women or if it is just convenient to be friends with them because they have small children. I often wonder what will happen in a few years, when everyone heads back into the work force. Will these bonds endure?

  5. That last sentence applies to so very many things. It's the acting that is so hard for all of us I think.