During your lifetime, you’ll make, on average, nearly 400 friends. At any one time, you’ll have a circle of about 30 friends, with six of those considered close – that’s what I found in a survey by MSN Messenger.
Right! My friend, Karin, is a pain. She borrows my CDs and never return them – or, if I’m lucky, return them three years later. When we get a taxi or lunch, I always pay because she’s forgotten to visit the cashpoint –- that’s on the days when she hasn’t left her bag at home and begged me to travel back across town with her to collect it.
She harangues passing strangers, she often falls down stairs and walks into glass doors, leaving me to make peace or call the ambulance. When I introduce her to a male friend, she’ll stand too close when talking to them, start fierce and pointless arguments and then later complain that I should be more help in finding her a boyfriend.
You may ask, why do I bother? Believe me. It’s a question I’ve asked myself a lot. If a boyfriend behaved like that, he’d have been dumped many years ago. If she’s a member of my family, I’d have had it out with her by now.
But friendship is a funny old game. Unlike our families, we choose our mates – and they choose us. Relationship with partner, family, or neighbour is clearly defined. With friends, nothing is so straightforward.; everyone has different ideas of what friendship should mean. I tend to see that a tight friendship pack is seen as desirable and glamorous – look no further than those favorite TV shows Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives and – but of course!—Friends.
So, is it acceptable to dump a friend? I’ve been a friend who gets dumped and I still couldn’t rationalize that. It was strangely painful; Mendya and I had been close at university but our friendship entirely changed course once she moved down to Jakarta after our graduation. She nabbed herself a glamorous job in TV and began moving in entirely different circles –- circles that never seemed to include me.
She gradually dumped me. She’d forgotten to return my calls or emails. She forgotten my birthday for the first time in many years. The intervals between contact grew larger and after several months of radio silence, I eventually realized the blindingly obvious; I had simply ceased to be of any use to her. I stopped pursuing Mendya – and never heard from her again.
Well..I guess, I have to manage my expectations. Accept that not every friend will define friendship in the same way I do. While I’d be hugely disappointed if Mendya wasn’t there for me in a time of crisis, I should never have expected too much of Karin – our friendship is based primarily on riotous days out, nothing more, nothing less. Friendship is an impossibly complex web – which can be hellish to untangle at time, but ultimately, I don’t want to be Astrid No-Mates… that’s pathetic!