Comments 7

The Prodigal Pal

So here’s the thing…

Monday on my day off, I had a list of things I wanted and needed to do:

1.  Look into tickets to go visit my mom.
2.  Start planning a fun getaway for my husband’s 40th birthday.
3.  Buy a better pot for our newest indoor tree, Lucas (I hope Bertie likes him).
4.  Plan a menu for the week.
5.  Determine whether or not to attend ALT Summit, SLC.

Instead, I ended up chatting with an old friend who you could consider part of the long-lost variety.   Even though we are “friends” on Facebook, we hadn’t spoken in years. It isn’t because we became enemies, we just stopped being friends.  There was not a huge fight that ended the relationship, though there may have been a tense encounter or two at the finish line to ensure the completion of it.  This friend had less time for me and wasn’t afraid to show it, saying, “Nah,” with no alternative suggestions to any of our typical plan making for the weekends became the norm. The interests we once had in common didn’t seem interesting to Prodigal Pal anymore, and even our mutual friends started feeling replaced by a new crew.  She kept trying to one up me in every conversation involving our social lives and created a competition between us in which I wasn’t aware of registering for. This was followed by a lot of hurts. A few could have been misunderstandings, but mostly we were just done.  Like a weed cracking through a sidewalk, it was time to pull this one out.

I have been thinking a lot about friendship lately and what it means to me.  Why I am so forgiving of the friend who constantly runs two hours behind?  Isn’t my time valuable too? Why have I ostracized people for much lesser offenses like tactlessness or for their poor social skills, but have given too many second chances to those who say off-handed remarks that are nothing but intentionally obnoxious.  What is it with the friend I keep who hangs tight with me during bad times but is tuned out during the good times, like she has a problem with my private victories and celebrating the success of others?  What makes us stick it out with some friends and what does it take to click in our heads when we are no longer a proper fit?

It’s not necessary for me to be friends with everyone, I don’t feel the need to be liked by everyone either.  What  I do need is to like everyone who has some kind of role in my life.  In the same way they say it’s just as easy to marry a good man as a bad man, I say it’s just as easy to have a relationship with a person that is in line with your values of friendship as it is with someone who cares little about being on board with your standards, and expectations.  Love can be unconditional, but friendship needs to be mutual. Life is too short to be dragging along dead weight, or to be treated like someone else’s ball and chain.

I don’t think that one needs to nit pick at relationships when the road gets bumpy.  Everyone is always going through something, and it’s important to cut people slack and not take everything so personally.  Not every pothole is a red flag.  Through thick and thin, right?  But what about when the digs, the dismissiveness, and the draining effects of time suckage and negative vibes are the first things that comes to mind when your “friend” wants to hang out?  What happens when you start referring to this “friend” in “quotation marks”?  What happens when things go wrong and neither of you really cares to try to make it right again?  You say good bye, either forever or for now.  Sometimes the years that go by and unshared life experiences can bring you right back to each other in a new way.  The universe has a funny tendency of doing that.

Which brings me back to Monday.  With long-lost friends, it’s about timing, or fermenting, or aging.  It also is about forgiving.  Unfortunately many do not survive the process and need to be let go in fairness to both parties.  It will never be the same as before, but it can turn into something simpler and fit better into your life now without too much elbow grease.  With the reappearance of Prodigal Pal,  I found my old friend who always has something more clever to say to my own clever quips.  I found my friend who remembered my dad as he was twenty years ago and was deeply saddened to learn I lost him. I found my friend who knows that I am not overtly competitive at game night, that I am just ‘game’.  I found my friend who was at one time in my life was my best friend, and who today as a newly reacquainted friend thinks the life I am living with my husband is really true,  in line with the girl I was, and with the woman I am now.

Redefining relationships doesn’t kill them.  It allows the good ones to survive.

So here’s the thing, have you ever gone from friends, to “friends”, to friends again?  Would you want to?


  1. Yes, I have, a few times. Sometimes I don't even remember why a relationship went sour, but if the opportunity arises to rekindle, and it feels right, then why not? I attribute a lot of broken friendships to immaturity (on one of our parts, so with the passing of time, if the roots were strong enough, the friendship can definitely rebloom. Enjoy your “new” friend!

  2. Hi Amy! Yes, with the passing of time and a change of attitude, why not give an old friendship a fresh start? You're right, it's all about strong roots that keep us more willing to do so.

  3. I don't know if I've ever gone from friends to “friends” to friends again. Usually, once we have crossed over to “friends” that “friend” often stays put in that category. I think this can be part of a natural progression. Sometimes we outgrow our friends. Sometimes our tastes change. Sometimes we realize we make mistakes, prejudge someone before we know them, etc. Friendships can be tricky, and I am especially picky with who I call friends. Lucky me, I have a few great ones. 😉

  4. I hear that. This is my first time for a friend to go “friend” and back again. Two others came very close and things were saved before going the way of the quotation marks, now our relationships are different but stronger than before. You are right though, friendships are tricky, and it pays to be picky (hey, that could go on a t-shirt). Thanks for your comment 😉

  5. Hi BP-Oddly, friendship is on my mind too, heavily this past year. My hubby and I went through a rough time where we lost ALL our core friendships over some heavy drama. At the end of that, we knew cutting it off was the healthiest, and in the end, the best thing for us. It left me wondering about all of the very things that you mentioned. Especially “what does it look like to be friends through thick and thin?” Last week we had three good friends from various parts of our life converge in Chicago for the same event. The mixing of the “friendship worlds” was amazing and showed us that the GOOD friends in our lives can be friends with each other and it makes sense. One of those couples was that friendship pattern you ended your post with. It feels good to be back to a deeper friendship with them, and that rough patch makes it stronger and all the more meaningful. The other friends that we lost, to me, it is much more obvious that that friendship was not as deep as I thought. I think just being open to understanding and forgiveness can take a friend from “friend” back to Friend. Great thoughts, thanks for sharing!

  6. I loved reading this. I am so sorry that you needed to go through the loss of your core friendships, but I do understand what it is like to sit back and think, “hmmm… does this relationship mean the same to me as it does to them?” and once we answer that very honestly, the answer is obvious and it makes it more bearable to let it go or to redefine our expectations of it. I completely share your sentiments that your good friends can comfortably and naturally overlap, and typically will like each other too. I love that! thank you for posting!!!

  7. Anonymous says

    “Keep good company, or none.” -Unclassified Laws of Etiquette.
    “Sometimes, in order to keep growing together, we have to grow apart.” -The Wonder Years.

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