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 Post subject: The lost art of friendship
PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2007 2:47 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
Posts: 1321
Maybe it's just me, but it seems harder to maintain friendships in this age of cellphones, instant messaging, email, and short attention spans. It's strange, because I can communicate more easily with my far-flung friends than ever before, and yet I think because everyone's over-stimulated and over-extended it's harder to put in the time it takes to maintain anything more than superficial friendships.

Most of my closest and most cherished friends have vanished from my life. I had one friend who used to correspond with me daily by email; we were best buddies...she and her husband flew over from England to celebrate my 40th birthday with me, and I went over to visit them. But gradually she drifted away and stopped anwering my emails and I haven't heard from her in over a year. Another friend and I were close for 25 years but she never answers my emails anymore. (Most of my closest friends are women.) One friend told me earlier this year that she planned to call me every Friday morning to chat before work; she managed to call twice but now I just get an occasional email from her.

Like I said, maybe it's just me, but I think this is a wider problem and I think it has to do with the fragmented lives we live...so often when I'd be talking to a friend on the phone they'd cut me off to respond to a text message on their cellphone, or they'd be reading their email or surfing the internet while we talk. To me, a true friend deserves undivided attention. But nobody seems to feel that way anymore, and nobody (in my life anyway) seems to have the time to maintain a real friendship. It's sad.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2007 9:36 am 

Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 9:50 pm
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Location: Vancouver, Canada
I think it's time to start widening your social circle. I ran into a similar rut a few years ago. However, in the past 3 years, I've met a lot of new people. I now have a far richer and more rewarding social life than I've had since university -- which was quite some time ago.

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 Post subject: Re: The lost art of friendship
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2007 9:12 pm 

Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2007 12:45 pm
Posts: 45
brad wrote:
Maybe it's just me, but it seems harder to maintain friendships in this age of cellphones, instant messaging, email, and short attention spans. It's strange, because I can communicate more easily with my far-flung friends than ever before, and yet I think because everyone's over-stimulated and over-extended it's harder to put in the time it takes to maintain anything more than superficial friendships.

Most of my closest and most cherished friends have vanished from my life. I had one friend who used to correspond with me daily by email; we were best buddies...she and her husband flew over from England to celebrate my 40th birthday with me, and I went over to visit them. But gradually she drifted away and stopped anwering my emails and I haven't heard from her in over a year. Another friend and I were close for 25 years but she never answers my emails anymore. (Most of my closest friends are women.) One friend told me earlier this year that she planned to call me every Friday morning to chat before work; she managed to call twice but now I just get an occasional email from her.

Like I said, maybe it's just me, but I think this is a wider problem and I think it has to do with the fragmented lives we live...so often when I'd be talking to a friend on the phone they'd cut me off to respond to a text message on their cellphone, or they'd be reading their email or surfing the internet while we talk. To me, a true friend deserves undivided attention. But nobody seems to feel that way anymore, and nobody (in my life anyway) seems to have the time to maintain a real friendship. It's sad.


Brad,

What you wrote reminds me of myself. In fact, I was also reminded of a poem a friend of mine emailed me a while back. This particular friend now lives in Hawaii after living in Arkansas his entire life, which is where I am still. I know I am in need of widening my social circle, but after I get off of work, I feel so tired that the interest isn't there.

Anyway, here is that poem I mentioned. I don't know who wrote it, but here it is:



Around the corner I have a friend,

In this great city that has no end,

Yet the days go by and weeks rush on,

And before I know it, a year is gone.

And I never see my old friend's face,

For life is a swift and terrible race,

He knows I like him just as well,

As in the days when I rang his bell.

And he rang mine.

If, we were younger then,

And now we are busy, tired men.

Tired of playing a foolish game,

Tired of trying to make a name.

"Tomorrow" I say, "I will call on Jim."

"Just to show that I'm thinking of him."

But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes,

And distance between us grows and grows.

Around the corner! - Yet miles away,

"Here's a telegram sir."

"Jim died today."

And that's what we get and deserve in the end.

Around the corner, a vanished friend.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 4:48 pm 
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Ah, I could write at great length on this subject. I am fortunate to have many friends from all walks of life. Some are easier to keep in touch with others. But I feel a great deal of affection even for those I see only rarely.

I've noticed that in many friendships, there's one person who works more at maintaining the connection. It's not that the active person necessarily values the friendship more than the passive person -- sometimes the opposite is true -- but that the dynamic, for whatever reason, makes one person less likely to initiate contact.

In my own life, I am the active person in some friendships and the passive person in others. I know that my failure to initiate contact can frustrate some friends. They've told me. I assure them -- because it's true -- that it's not a reflection of any lack of affection. Chalk it up to my flakiness. Or to how busy life is. Or whatever.

In other relationships, I'm the active person, and I try not to get upset when the people I'm contacting do a poor job of replying to my overtures. I understant their position. (On the other hand, if I can genuinely sense that the other person is just putting me off because they're not as keen on the friendship, then I cool my jets.) My wife, on the other hand, gets cranky when she initiates contact and gets no response. In fact, she refuses to make a second attempt. I tell her that this is the wrong approach. If my friends only tried once to initiate contact, we'd lose touch rather quickly.

For me, the important thing about a friendship is to make the most of time together. Be in the moment. When you do get a chance to spend time with a friend, relish it, and make it something you'll remember with fondness. This has been my approach, even with friends I see just once a decade, and it works. Or seems to. We keep in touch sporadically, and are happy for the time we have together.

p.s. Another thing that really helps is that many of my friends have blogs, and we share them among each other. This means that even though I may not see Nicole, for example, except once every few years, we read each other's personal blogs and keep up-to-date that way. I love blogs.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 6:27 pm 

Joined: Sat Jun 09, 2007 12:45 pm
Posts: 45
I can really relate to what you said about the acive/passive roles in friendships. In the past, for whatever reason, I have always been the passive person. I realize that is something I really need to work on, but it seems hard to change old habits.


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 Post subject: Good reminder
PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 12:54 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2007 8:11 am
Posts: 1088
Location: Sunny Florida
I read once that friends are like flowers in a garden - you have to tend to them if you want them to (1) not die and (2) grow.

I totally agree that we are all overstimulated and its hard to focus on friendships in our harried and hurried world. I do a lot of e-mailing, i.e. I saw this article and thought of you, but when I really want to reconnect I send a little note by snail-mail, generally 4-5 sentences does the trick - i.e. this is what I'm up to, I thought of you b/c of xyz and I hope all is well. Snail mail is my trick for staying connected b/c people pay attention in a different way to a little handwritten card vs. e-mail and phone calls. I also make a point to go 'home' and visit my friends in person (I moved to Fla. and most of my friends are in the Md./DC/Va. area) at least 1-2 times a year.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2007 4:03 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2007 3:56 pm
Posts: 322
Location: left coast
i don't put too much on it.. i try not to analyze the reason why friends don't keep in touch.. i understand they are just as busy as i am.. some have kids.. some are married.. we all lead different lives.. so when i don't hear from them in a while.. it doesn't bother me

but as soon as there is a special occasion or two.. we can goof around and act like we just saw each other yesterday

i know who my true friends are


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 11, 2007 2:02 pm 

Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2007 10:35 am
Posts: 1444
it depends on how you define friendship. some friendships are fleeting, some permanent, some intermittent. The key is to enjoy friendships for what they are not what they aren't.

i visited a friend of mine in Italy this past year and had the same discussion. i worked with him 9 years ago and we kept in touch via email maybe once a year or during major life events. There are friends that you basically say hello or inform of life updates once a year or during a major life moment. this doesn't make him any lesser of a friend than someone that i have coffee every tuesday with. it just means our friendship is in a different context than my friend that i have coffee with every day.

peoples' goals will change. you and your friend may no longer have the same goals, so it is natural for friendships to end.

instead of fretting about lost or intermittent friendships, get out there and make new friends that have similar interests and you can hang out with more if that is what you want. the best way to do this is to start activities that you enjoy, because there will be people that enjoy them as well.

bottom line, stop turning friendships into what they aren't. enjoy friendships for what they are. get out there and find new friends that meet the need of your friendship void.


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 Post subject: Re: The lost art of friendship
PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 11:09 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2007 7:58 am
Posts: 231
brad wrote:
Maybe it's just me, but it seems harder to maintain friendships in this age of cellphones, instant messaging, email, and short attention spans. It's strange, because I can communicate more easily with my far-flung friends than ever before, and yet I think because everyone's over-stimulated and over-extended it's harder to put in the time it takes to maintain anything more than superficial friendships.

Most of my closest and most cherished friends have vanished from my life. I had one friend who used to correspond with me daily by email; we were best buddies...she and her husband flew over from England to celebrate my 40th birthday with me, and I went over to visit them. But gradually she drifted away and stopped anwering my emails and I haven't heard from her in over a year. Another friend and I were close for 25 years but she never answers my emails anymore. (Most of my closest friends are women.) One friend told me earlier this year that she planned to call me every Friday morning to chat before work; she managed to call twice but now I just get an occasional email from her.

Like I said, maybe it's just me, but I think this is a wider problem and I think it has to do with the fragmented lives we live...so often when I'd be talking to a friend on the phone they'd cut me off to respond to a text message on their cellphone, or they'd be reading their email or surfing the internet while we talk. To me, a true friend deserves undivided attention. But nobody seems to feel that way anymore, and nobody (in my life anyway) seems to have the time to maintain a real friendship. It's sad.


I've been giving this post a lot of thought recently.

Focusing on the bolded text (by me), I agree that society is becoming more fragmented and isolated. Individual friendships aren't what they used to be and communities at large aren't what they once were. I am guilty of this myself. I've lived in this neighborhood for several years and still there are people I know as "the guy with the boat", or " The firefighter" or "the jungle house" I'm not sure I want to know what my house is known as LOL.

On a larger scale, I am not active with a lot of people outside of my immediate neighborhod and attempts at getting involved are rebuffed. I truly don't get it. I try to volunteer at my kids schools, sports teams etc and get the cold shoulder. What's up with that! Do I smell? No, it's not about me. I think that the organizers are taken aback by my offers to help since they are a rarity in todays society. People just don't seem to be as personally connected as they once were to their communities, neighborhoods, friends and family.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 12:17 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2007 1:32 pm
Posts: 312
As I have grown older ,I have had fewer and fewer friends, my wife is my best friend and somehow it justs seems easier to do little things with her, when I was young , an old man told me when I grew older if I could count the true friends on my fingers ,I would be lucky indeed, at the time I thought he was crazy but as I have grown older I understand what he was saying,,,,,,,,,,,and that is sad


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 3:26 pm 

Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 3:05 pm
Posts: 1321
Interesting responses, all.

I do have plenty of what I would call casual friends, people I stay in touch with sporadically and see occasionally, the kind of people you might go to a concert or movie with and have a good time. I have no problem meeting people and have a strong social network. What I find myself missing is the deep vital friendships I used to have in my life and which seem much more rare nowadays; people you want to talk to or write to every day, people with whom you can be vulnerable and open, and most of all people who listen and who are grateful to you for listening too. That's a deeper and to me more important kind of friendship.

I suppose some of it does have to do with growing older; it's easier to devote time to friendships when you're young and have fewer responsibilities, no kids, etc., but I also think it has to do with the age we're living in. Everyone's more scattered now; people can't sustain focus like they used to. I remember once apologizing to one of my 22-year-old colleagues when I was multitasking as she was talking to me on the phone and I missed a question she had just asked me, and she laughed -- she said she and her friends do that to each other all the time! She's totally used to fragmented conversations and wandering attentions, for her it's normal.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 7:29 pm 

Joined: Fri May 04, 2007 8:14 pm
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brad wrote:
What I find myself missing is the deep vital friendships I used to have in my life and which seem much more rare nowadays; people you want to talk to or write to every day, people with whom you can be vulnerable and open, and most of all people who listen and who are grateful to you for listening too. That's a deeper and to me more important kind of friendship.


It may be a sign of the times as much as anything else. While I don't entirely agree with the article in the link below, it does raise some valid and provocative points.

http://www.pointlesswasteoftime.com/misery.html


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2007 7:30 am 
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VinTek, that article is absolutely fascinating. Very thought-provoking.


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 Post subject: Blogs Definitley Help !
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 3:55 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2007 2:49 pm
Posts: 1
That is sooo true about being able to keep up with your friends who have blogs !!!

It's amazing ! I love it when they put pictures and everything ! It adds so much when we finally get a chance to get together in person or on the telephone.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 6:01 pm 
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I didn't respond to this thread the first time but since it popped up again and I just spent a good portion of the last 2 months visiting friends from one end of the country to the other I thought I'd throw in my $.02.

I've founds that I have a few different kinds of friends:

1 - Friends of habit. These are people I've known for years but who I only see and, only have any kind of contact with, when I go visit my mom. I have many of them but two in particular. One I've known my entire life and one I've known since 6th grade. I see each 1-2 times a year. With my friend I've known forever, I usually go to his house for a chat and with the other, we usually have lunch. I call them friends of habit because realistically, we have nothing in common but our history. They are both married with multiple children, living in the same town where they've lived almost their whole lives and they have zero desire to change that. We exchange information about our lives but it's like listening to a foreigner. They can't comprehend my plan to go on a year-long RTW trip and I don't get the things they do. Realistically, I could never see my friend since 6th grade again and it really wouldn't impact my life. The other friend I'd miss if I didn't see him at least occasionally but only because we've spent vast portions of our lives together. But, that said, neither of us goes out of our way to stay in touch. I think about him occasionally but that's about it (his wife has something to do with that!).

2 - Friends of convenience (I dont' like this word and reserve the right to come back and change it if I can think of a better one). These are people I enjoy being around but not people who I have frequent, consistent contact with. They're the people who I see as a group when I visit a city but who I rarely see on an individual basis. But, when I do see them on an individual basis we have a great time. For example, during a recent trip I spent one afternoon with a friend at a boat show and another afternoon with a friend rock climbing. Both of these people are ones I'd typically see every month or two (if that) and really have little/no contact with between meetings. I had an absolute blast both days. It reminded me why I liked spending time with them and made me a little sad that life gets in the way sometimes and doesn't always allow you to take friendships to the next level. To stay in touch with these folks, when I lived in DC, I would plan a monthly dinner out with the group. Sometimes there were 5 people sometimes 25 but all the times there was fun to be had. It was a good way to reconnect with people you care about but who you can't see frequently. Now that I no longer live in DC, I'll send occasional group emails but rarely have individual contact.

3 - Forever friends. These are the people I consider my chosen family. The ones who I can call at 3 am and who will come and help me without question, not matter where I am. I'm lucky enough to have several of these. A couple of them I only talk to/email every couple months (and see every few years) but every time it's like no time has passed. A couple of them I talk to a few time a month. A couple of them I talk to a few times a week. They're all important to me and I'll be there for them whenever needed. One of these friends, who I only talk to every few months and have only seen three times (now four) in the last 6 years, got married last year. At the wedding she got a *bit* tipsy and tearfully apologized for not asking me to be in her wedding. She was afraid to ask me in case I felt obligated. We finally got a chance to talk about that when I saw her last week and I told her that even though we only talk a few times a year and only see each other every few years, I'll always be there for the big stuff, no question. It was a good reminder that even though you fee it, sometimes you have to actually *say* it. I went to visit her last week because she recently found out she's preggers. I wanted to celebrate with her and there was no question about going to visit when I found out. Just like there's no question that when she has the baby I'll go stay with her for a couple weeks to help her out.

So, to summarize this long-winded post, I think it just depends on what kind of friends they are. I tend to be a solitary person and don't share emotions well so it rarely impacts me that I don't have immediate access to someone to dump on, particularly since I knew that if I did need someone they're just a call away.


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