I have had a little falling out with an old friend recently. Oh, we will be fine. It happened before and it will happen again, and this time, it was not even a real falling out. Just a teeny disagreement. I would not even call it a disagreement, as I chose to say nothing and go silent on her for a while, until she decides to be nice again.
However, it got me thinking about how your lifestyle and changes in circumstances can affect old friendships.
A while ago, husband was not sure why this one friend seemed to distance himself.
'I had not said or done anything', he claimed, and I had to admit that, in that particular case, he had not. However, coincidentally, I came across a very good article, which listed a few reasons other people might hate you. When you have not done anything wrong. And one of the examples they used was of two guys discussing their weekends at work. As far as Guy No 1 was concerned, he was having a friendly chat with his nice colleague. However, after that, he noticed the Guy No 2 started avoiding him.
So what happened? well, Guy No 1 was telling his friend about his crappy weekend. What a horrible time I had! My car broke down on the way to the seaside, and then the girlfriend was a bitch and fell out with me over that…Or something like that. Now, what's wrong with that story? Absolutely nothing. If you told Guy No 1 that he had annoyed Guy No 2 and made him feel jealous, he would be incredulous. What is there to be jealous about? My car broke down, my girlfriend was a bitch…
However. The Guy No 2 lives with his disabled father. He does not make enough money to have a car, and he definitely has no girlfriend, either bitchy or not. So to him, all he heard was Look at me! I have a car! and I have a girlfriend!
The result? Guy No 2 hates Guy No 1. Was it Guy No 1's fault? No. Was he showing off? Nope. Yet, the result is the same.
I told Husband that story. 'So you see, following that logic...When you talked about your work problems, to this (ex) friend of yours, it was a reminder that he was unemployed for years.'
'But that's ridiculous!', Husband responded. Yes, it is. But that's how it works.
Now, I repeated that mistake with this old friend. Divorced, with two small children, and two jobs she has to juggle, she takes my problems and issues I sometimes share with her as insignificant. To her, I have absolutely nothing to ever complain about, and technically, she is of course, right. She told me off, and maybe, I deserved it. I should have been more tactful. I should have been careful not to mention that aspect of my life…or this…or this. My goodness, definitely not that. But, in the end, that is what my life is at the moment.
So, I guess, my question is…Can we remain friends with people if our lives become so significantly different from each others? Can we still share our problems with them, however pathetic, spoilt and annoying we might sound?
All you do all day is drink wine and go to the gym, she said. What do you know about real problems?
And I felt like replying. I felt like pointing out where I live. I felt like reminding her that she has a career, and a social security, possibly the best medicine in the world, and a home. And parents who live close by. And friends who are not going to suddenly relocate elsewhere. And she knows which country she will live in 10 years' time. All those simple, normal things that seem like luxuries to me.
But I did not say anything. What's the point? She is, after all, right. I do drink quite a lot of wine. And I do go to the gym. And she really should be okay with that.