Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wednesday Factoid: Ending Friendships

Today's Wednesday Factoid is: How did one of your friendships end?

I have a lot to say about this but out of respect for the person I'm talking about and in the interest of not boring you people, I will mostly give you just the facts.

I was really good friends with Mia in high school, and we were roomies in college for some of our university years. We were into the same stuff, had a bunch of silly in-jokes, cried over the same things, shared a teen girl notebook where we wrote and drew goofy things for and about each other, dated the same guy at the same time for a while (ew), and had a lot of people assuming we were lesbians. (We weren't, but we didn't care.) And sometimes we pretended to be Sailor Venus and Sailor Mars. Like you do.

And I guess our friendship ended because when she got a boyfriend she wanted to spend all her time with him and grew in a different direction than I did--I'm thinking, looking back, that maybe our previous interests were embarrassing to her or weren't able to coexist with who she wanted to be as an adult, and there I was still celebrating those things. But I don't really want to speak for her as to what she wanted and needed; it just became clear to me that I wasn't a priority in her life anymore since she stopped initiating contact and responded to my invitations by saying she was busy or seeming reluctant, so I stopped trying.

Then maybe six years after we'd last talked, she sent me a message through e-mail containing some of our old jokes and pet names, and in the same letter asked for a favor. I was pretty blown out of the water that she hadn't talked to me for so long and then the next time I heard from her it was because she wanted me to do something for her--coupled with the almost insulting references to a friendship that hadn't been important enough to inspire contact for more than half a decade, like that would make it all okay--so I guess that was when I decided she really wasn't my friend anymore. I still think fondly of the time we spent together, but I don't like maintaining relationships that make me feel like the other person is only speaking to me or spending time with me because I'm literally providing a service for them. I haven't spoken to her since then, which I believe happened in 2006.

Sometimes I still miss us, though.

As an aside, I'd like to say that some people have reacted with confusion or even anger when I've talked about going through a period of grief when I lost this friendship, because they are weirded out by the idea that it was important to me if it wasn't romantic. They generally do one of two things: 1. Insist that if I was broken up about it, it WAS a romantic relationship and I'm not admitting I'm a lesbian; or 2. Insist that it's inappropriate for me to care about someone the way I did if we were NOT in a romantic relationship. So either I'm allowed to have those feelings and I'm lying about it being romantic, or I'm telling the truth about it not being romantic so I'm not allowed to have those feelings.

Friendships are really important, people. We insist on putting "just" in front of "friends" all the time, and describing non-romantic relationships as "there's nothing between us," but we really need to ditch those narratives. Especially for aromantic people like me whose friendships and non-traditional intimacies are the only close relationships we have outside of family, we need to stop snottily dismissing the importance of friendship. Sometimes we move on from them, and I guess in our case we just moved in different directions and I got offended when she tried to ask me a favor after such a long time after we'd gone down different paths, but that doesn't mean I don't consider our friendship an important part of who I became. She was a really good friend for a long time and she was there for me during some formative years and she understood who I was to some extent. 

I still wish her the best, even though I don't know where or how or who she is anymore.


  1. It's weird how much we try as a society to trivalize friendship, especially compared to romantic love. I have more happy memories, more regrets, and more attachment to my past and present friendships than I do to any of my romantic endeavours. (Biggest fight and reconciliation that ever happened to me in high school was with a friend, not a boyfriend).

    Also, hah. Shortly before graduating high school, I too found out my classmates thought I was a lesbian and with another friend of mine. I guess it was more justified in that she actually was gay? Then again, it was well-known she already had a girlfriend--who's her wife now--so that probably makes it less justified.

    1. I guess at least as adults we're expected to meet nearly all of our needs with a single partnership, and the idea of having friends mutates into something immature since you're "supposed' to focus on your family or something. Which is weird because feelings of isolation and loneliness increase during those years of our lives sometimes when we realize we don't really have a social life anymore outside of family and work. I think it would be good for us as a society to normalize having continuing contact with friends even if you are not single.

      And yeah, it's interesting how if someone is gay the suspicion increases that they are in a relationship with anyone else of the same sex that they might spend time with. Same dynamic, I think, that has people flipping out about a gay person in the locker room, as if being attracted to people means you will ogle them or hit on them or creep on them or violate them. Suddenly when someone's gay, other people conceive everything they do in the context of their homosexuality. It's really annoying.