I’ve often heard and read the phrase, “I love you, but I am not ‘in’ love with you anymore”; and I’m sure you must have heard this phrase too. It is not that uncommon, or that difficult to understand – it simply means that while you may still care and respect a person, those feelings of attractions, of emotional tugs at your heart, of a deep desire to put the other person first and so on, is not present anymore, or even if it is present, the feeling has started to fade away – is not that strong anymore. And there’s nothing wrong in that – it is just one of those things that happen.
However that line of thought, and my personal experiences, put me in the frame of mind that prompted this article – about how, if we can fall out of love, can’t we also fall out of friendship? After all, what is friendship, but another form, another expression of love! And if love can be tested, and evolve and either grow stronger or fade away, then the same is true (and I feel even more importantly in friendship, that for me has always been more complex and stronger than love) for friendship too!
A friend is a person you spend time with, share thoughts with, and essentially include in your life, because as the adage goes ‘man is a social animal’, and companionship is important to all! Your family can not always take up the space for peer level talks, or understand the anguish and drama that you go through over the different stages of your life – and this is simply because sometimes you don’t need the support of forever or stable family love, or the undying affection of a lover (yes I am glorifying both emotions in a positive light for the ease of this article – rest your rolling eyes people!), but just need solid, light-hearted and yet deep-rooted understanding of a friend who will be there, who will laugh with you and cry with you not because he/she is biologically conditioned to, or because he/she sees you as part of a future together – but because in that moment, he/she would pick you!.
And right there, where I mention that moment, is the point of existence of this article, and I feel the groundwork of friendship. Simply put, in love you pick the other person every time, in friendship you choose the moments, and you are ready to be chosen at certain moments. And that is what makes friendship special – the fact that efforts are put in not for an all-consuming, ever-present company, but for an essential, as needed, as required, sometimes missed, but never forgotten company.
Thus, it goes without saying, that in different phases of our life, we have different groups of friends – because moments change. The moments you can share with your school friends won’t be the same as those that you would be able to share with your office colleagues – the scenario has changed, and so does the requirement of the company. And that is precisely how friendships evolve or devolve – i.e. whether you end up being life-long friends or just past acquaintances, you will never know for sure. But yes, it will happen.
But other than these two extremes, there is also the third kind into which a friendship can evolve – a phase where you keep in touch, and will be there for the big moments, but you are not ‘in’ a friendship anymore. This can happen for any number of reasons, different lives, changing priorities, change in interests etc., etc. – simply put, the practice of putting in the effort changes from both ends for whatever myriad reasons.
I feel and write about it today, because I see it a little too clearly happening with me; earlier I may have been the one who changed, today it is people around me who are changing. And I realized, I wasn’t as hurt as I should have been, was more accepting of some people than I was of others, and it became clear that people who were once so important to me that I would rather listen to their sob stories that finish my meal, are now a presence that I can ignore at times – maybe in the face of a good book, or simply because I am tired. Similarly, for certain people I may have become that presence – the one they ignore because they are tired, or just not in the mood for.
Why I write this article – to realize that I’ve matured, matured to the point where I try to be understanding and not take offence, where I put my needs first again in that particular relationship and avoid the hurt, rather than blame someone simply for moving on in a different phase of life. Because if there is one thing that I have realized, it is that the friendship that is meant to evolve into a familial bond or a deep love will not happen without efforts for sure, but it will never be forced, or coerced at any side. It will, in some ways, be a natural bond, something that will happen right before your eyes, something that you will know that you have put in efforts for, and have memories about but would never be able to pinpoint that exact moment where you knew it was more than just another friend – you know why, because there will never be a single moment to tell you why one friendship lasted, but the other didn’t!
So in case you are missing out on someone, keep in touch, make a little effort, do a little extra, be a little more kind, make them feel a little special once in a while. And in case all this feels just a tad too much to do, then if, or when this happens to you, be accepting of it. Because just like love, not every friendship is meant to be equally strong, but that does not mean it has to be any less beautiful.