Thursday, January 01, 2009

What Friends Are For

My old roommate has been in town this week. I'd thought we would be spending more time together than we have, although to be honest, I'm not very upset that we haven't.

It has been disappointing to realize that she doesn't place the same value on our relationship as I have. I don't take it personally, I just think it is where she's at. And I'll freely admit that it used to be enough for me too. It was easier to emulate being friends than to really be there for one another. It seemed safer somehow. We were able to use each other when it was convenient and pretend it didn't matter when we felt taken advantage of. At least seeing her this week offered me an opportunity to reevaluate things in person and to practice not worrying about her needs over my own.

I'd say our relationship initially grew less out of an honest personal connection than from a mutual recognition in each other of similar fear-based tendencies. Plus we were both working at a really crappy place that offered us a shared experience to commiserate about (it has since closed). We also appreciated each other's cynical outlook on life and shared similar twisted senses of humor.

I see a lot of similarities between my friendship with her compared to a former best friend of mine. He and I haven't spoken in almost two years. While I don't harbor any ill will towards him, I doubt we would ever be able to be friends again. More to the point, I doubt we ever really were friends, at least not in any meaningful way.

This realization doesn't mean that I feel an immediate need to cut her completely out of my life. But I think I'm going to have to downgrade my current level of involvement with her to "acquaintance" status. I'll always hope for the best for her and am more than happy to keep in touch. But I'll only be willing to commit to a more involved friendship when she's going to participate equally. Call it a resolution or a priority or spring cleaning or whatever; I'm just not willing to keep putting effort into something that's an illusion. There are other people in my life, both friends and family, where that energy would be better spent.

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