I spend a lot of time away from home. Every time I move from one country to another, one of the hardest things to do is to make new friends. It’ s not easy for me to strike up new friendships and it becomes even harder the older I get and the more selective I have become. I no longer feel that I need to fit in or please everyone that I meet.
When I was younger, I would make the effort to join a society or hang out with new people so that I would belong to a group of people. It was so easy at that time and the criteria was low since we just wanted to have fun and do stupid things. Now, if there is no chemistry upon the first meeting, I don’t bother to stay in touch. It’s particularly hard when the other person wants to continue the “friendship” without the same mutual enthusiasm.
There is always this awkward moment when someone whom I am not too keen on asks me out again for a drink. Hence, I have found a solution where I don’t pretend to be engaging or interested when I meet someone for the first time. Call me unfriendly or rude, but it’s better to be straightforward from the start.
I would say that most of the friendships I have made during my time away from home have been short lived. However, there are some friends whom I have known for a long time and we still remain as friends until today. Whenever I am home, I make it a point to meet up with them and these are treasured moments.
Recently, I had an interesting conversation with one of my closest friends. The conversation begs the question of whether we are pretentious as friends, not with each other, but with some other mutual friends who are less close.
You see, we have been trying to stay in touch with one of our friends whom we know quite awhile back. For reasons unknown, this particular friend had stood us up several times to a point where we simply gave up. Like any other relationships, for a friendship to work, it needs to be reciprocal from all parties involved. With this friend, it has come to a point where we were the ones taking the initiatives to meet up.
After a long period of silence, my friend, bumped into her one day by accident. This “friend” had apparently behaved very chummy and told my friend how much she has missed our company, much to our scepticism and we have very good reasons for being sceptical due to her past patterns of behaviour. My friend confided in me that she felt how fake this “friend” had behaved. She inevitably asked herself, why did we become friends in the first place? Then, the question she asked me was, “Are we pretentious and fake too?”
My initial reaction was, of course not! Don’t be silly. I don’t think we are fake. However, as we dissected the issue more thoroughly, as we usually do with all other issues of our lives, I discovered that, yes, we are pretentious and fake when it comes to casual friendships. We entertain, we engage, we are polite and above all, we are dishonest with people who are not close to us. A simple question such as, “Do you think this dress looks good on me?” is often answered with a “yes” even if she looks fat in it.
There are very few friends in my life whom I can be brutally honest with, but they are also the ones who remain as part of my life until today.
So what defines true friendship? It’s not only when they are there for you in times of need, but also when you can be honest with them because when you do, they don’t see it as a criticism but as your opinion and usually done in your best interest. It’s also when they don’t constantly seek for your approval because being different is OK.