Are we all just frenemies?

Life here in BGIM land has been crazy for the past several days; the agency I head is experiencing a deficit in the budget that threatens our summer program so I have been working overtime trying to keep all the balls in the air. Luckily the lights are bright at the end of the tunnel and I am hoping this latest crisis will be behind me soon enough. With everything going on, I haven’t had much time to post though for folks who follow me on twitter and Facebook, I have been sharing some of my early posts from 2008.

However tonight as I unwind after a great yoga session and this great glass of Chardonnay, I realized there is something that I have been wanting to blog about. I have sort of touched upon the issue of friendships in the past and this recent article in the New York Times, brought the issue back up in my mind.

I have few friends; part of it is my circle has always been small and most of the people I consider friends I met before my 20th birthday. I have a core group of people that when shit hits the fan, they are there for me. They are the folks that will hop on a plane or offer a ticket to deal with the big shit, but sadly none of them live anywhere near me.

For the longest time, I thought maybe it was me, but the piece in the Times which sparked a discussion among my real life pals online who are also living far away from home revealed we are all in the same sorry boat. So I am wondering are we either all maladjusted undesirables or is true friendship hard to come by?

Recently I have had a few situations with several people I thought were friends that frankly have me wondering what does it even mean to be a friend? No, I am serious. My closest friend is a 40 something year old bachelor for life, we share almost everything. Yet we don’t talk daily or even weekly, hell we have been known to go long stretches without talking. We are not Facebook pals, we don’t connect on any form of social media but he knows my deep dark secrets and I know his. Even when we disagree on an issue, it’s never been a reason to stop talking or end the relationship, by comparison almost all my new (last 12 years or less) relationships are more like frenemy situations and frankly I am tired of it.

While I come from the school of ride or die friendships, I realize that’s not everyone’s thing but having went through one childhood friendship that was dysfunctional as hell until my friend’s untimely death in her late 20’s. I tend to keep a wide swath between me and folks who want me to serve as their unofficial therapist. As open as I am and despite being married to a white man, friendships with white women are hard for me to navigate, I sometimes feel we speak very different languages. Generally the only white women I don’t have that experience with tend to be ones with exposure to us diverse folks. By the same token there are plenty of people of color that frankly I don’t want to be trapped in an elevator with much less call friends of mine.

So in this new fast paced world where we can have 2000 twitter followers and 800 Facebook friend but we can’t even find someone to celebrate our birthdays with, what is a friend? Does true friendship even exist or are we all really walking around in a state of frenemies?  Do you have close friends? If so how did you meet them? BGIM wants to know all about your friendships because I am nosy like that!

10 thoughts on “Are we all just frenemies?”

  1. The friends that I have considered to be my closest friends have all moved to different parts of the country so I don’t really have anyone that I hang around and/or talk to often. We shared similar experiences so things were just easier.

    I think that many of my “frenemies” were people I thought were my friends in high school. I don’t talk to them anymore; only if it see them around town. It’s probably for the better that I didn’t remain “friends” with them.

    I’ve tried to make friends with some of the people I work with but I don’t think we’ll truly be friends. Sometimes it takes hanging out with certain folks in certain situations to realize why that person would not make a good friend. Just recently, I went to a party my co-worker was having and I realized that some people are just too chaotic for me. I guess I need to start saving money so I can visit my good friends.

  2. My closest girlfriends are the ones I went through something with. Whether it was childhood, childbirth, or my bout with PPD, those are the women I tend to turn to. I find that shared experiences forge the strongest bonds for me, but it’s hard as an adult with children to really spend that much quality time with an adult outside the family.

  3. Girl, I really believe the universe sends people that you NEED into your life and, conversely, the universe will remove people in your life that are no longer necessary.

    I don’t have frenemies or superficial friendships. Because of my (sincere) personality, that type of dynamic is too emotionally taxing for me. I simply invest in real, meaningful relationships with genuine people who are genuinely interested in me. I’m also at a point in life where I cannot abide by toxic relationships (and by toxic I mean serious emotional/psychological dysfunction that the person refuses to deal with after I’ve confronted them). So toxic people who refuse to work on their issues get cut off with little to no drama on my part. (And it goes both ways; I don’t want to be a source of toxicity in someone else’s life.) I’m really trying to live a life of peace and be a person of peace, so I have no room for unresolved toxicity in my life.

    I’ve also recognized that sometimes people grow distant because of “life.” For example, years ago, one really good friend of mine married a man who I cannot stand (an extreme right-wing republican conservative evangelical teabagging radio commentator). I’m sure she knows I don’t respect or think highly of her husband. As I’ve moved away from Christianity and become very liberal socially, it’s changed the dynamic of our friendship. I can’t fault her, though, since that’s MY issue, not hers. On the other hand, I’m a single woman in my mid-thirties who is in grad school and living a free, unencumbered life where I travel as I please. So, that means that my married friends with young children probably are not able to relate to me as easily. This really sucks, but at the same time I respect and understand their need to seek out people in similar life stages.

    In the NY Times article, one of the interviewees mentioned having “friends” (i.e. close acquaintances) for different occasions, instead of depending on a select few of “ride or die” friends. A friend for going out for drinks. A friend for dancing. A friend for traveling. A friend for movies. And the like. I think this is a mature attitude to adopt as we get older, as it satisfies–at least superficially, our desire for human contact. While this type of arrangement isn’t ideal for me, I’ve adopted something similar, given my current circumstances. But, I also don’t expect too much of an emotional investment from some of these people. And I’m okay with that. Hmmm…perhaps this contradicts what I stated at the beginning of this message?

  4. I look at a lot of people as acquantances and just a few as friends. Friends are the ones you can hang out with hours, acquaintances the ones you just say hey too. I think it online world we have a lot more surface relationship, but so it goes. And of course sometimes you do have to reach out and have lunch or something and try to have a deeper relationship.

    • Eddie 😉 I agree but I find that in trying to turn mere acquaintances into friends it’s really hard to do. I am not sure, we are all so busy yet we spend hours online “talking” when we could be connecting offline.

  5. I have no frenemies but I also have no close friends. When I moved to the states and got married (which came sort of out of nowhere) all of my former friendships were over. Part of it was my fault and part of it was them not being in the same head space as me. When I look back I realize many of the people I knew in Toronto were frenemies. I had one close friend and we were the ride or die type. We had been first loves in high school at 15 and it had grown into what I thought was a completely platonic relationship that I was extremely comfortable and happy with BUT when I announced my impending marriage it crumbled. After so many years he had harbored feelings or wanted me to remain in some sort of stasis forever I guess…I still feel like I lost a brother.

    Ever since I have not found anyone to be close with like that. Most of the people I work with are younger than me and unmarried, don’t own homes, still footloose and into hanging out in the old port at night. Sometimes I feel like it s VERY hard to make new friends when you are 30-40. Everyone at this age seems to be in flux, getting married, having kids, there are so many life changes going on that I feel like people (and myself) are too absorbed in their own lives for the effort it takes to forge friendships that mean something.

    I believe there is such a thing as true friends but I also think it can be just as hard to find as true love.

    • Totally agree, I admit at times I am guilty of being absorbed in my own world and trying to be aware of that, so I can make changes. I do think this is just a time when things are in flux so making real connections is hard especially the further away you go from your roots.

  6. hmmm. no state of frenemy here…not sure how i would even swing that. like, you are in a state of regular conflict with the people that are supposed to be your support system? that would make me whiggy. i am lucky to have friends from all stages of my life. not a million…but almost always one lifelong friend from each ( high school, university, first career, first kid…you get it). like you and your closest friend, we are not in continual contact…but we are in continual synch, able to pickup where we left off…or where we are needed. these people ( women and men ) are so important to me. true friendship exists. so do *in the moment* friends…but they play a role as well, in my day to day survival;), online or in the school yard. right now, my high school best friend is here for a month and i love our chance to reconnect…and reminisce. i would be a sadder person without these people in my world. probably why i am always looking for my next friend connection.

  7. Other than my childhood friends, my long standing ones I met in the Navy. And some of us don’t talk everyday but when we do it’s like nothing has changed. I have a couple of good ones here in Maine. I met them through my kids and I plan on keeping in touch with them should I ever move from here. And I have also meet quite a few people I can call my friends (including you) online. I don’t think I have any frenemies. I might have had one though but I let it go.

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