In my life, I have made the conscious decision to stop seeing people whom I used to call “friend” several times.
There have been various reasons. Mostly, it’s the realisation that these people bring absolutely nothing to my life and that meeting up with them is just a painful way to sit through a meal.
The last time I did this was a couple of years ago with a very old friend who had just been through a divorce. Of course it was callous of me to walk away from her at a time when she was reaching out to me. Yes, perhaps she needed my support, and yes, as a friend I should have given it, but the reason why I walked away was because there was nothing mutual between the two of us. As I sat at that table with her, I saw bitterness and cynicism. Years before that, I could have shared that with her, but during that particular meal, I only felt a certain detached irritation. I think the reason why I couldn’t empathise was because just one year ago, she had also out of the blue announced her marriage to me and when I asked her why she had decided to get married, she flippantly said, “Sometimes it’s useful to have a man around the house.” I guess with that flippant remark, I kind of lost any kind of respect that I could have had for her marriage. If she entered into marriage with such flippancy, shouldn’t she just get over it?
Recently, I met up with another old friend. This was a happily married man, very comfortable in his life and he irritated me because he expected me to somehow be very comfortable in mine as well. We’re the same age and he’s a doctor, proud husband and father of a healthy baby boy and he was going to go shopping for his second car in 3 years after our lunch appointment. And somewhere during that meal, I found myself having to explain to him why I, a swinging single with no dependents, cannot afford to buy my own apartment and nothing irritates me more than having to explain myself to people who are soooo in their comfort zone.
I don’t know if it is normal for people to actually consciously decide that they will never again see another person who used to be their friend, especially 30-year-old adults. I mean, couples who have broken up do that all the time but here I am talking about friends. Children and teenagers do that all the time, but here I am talking about a supposedly matured grown-up. I also wonder if there is a good enough reason to stay friends with another person, or a good enough reason to walk away. People grow apart all the time. Do we hang out because it is effortless? Or do we hang on because it used to be effortless?