There is some self-interest behind every friendship. There is no friendship without self-interests. This is a bitter truth.~ Chanakya
Lately I find myself re-evaluation my priorities. My health issues are happening more frequently and with greater intensity. While not life-threatening, it is annoying. This situation is also making it harder for me to sustain relationships that are one-way streets.
We’ve all been there. Friends of convenience that you share a common interest or two for a while. Friends that seem to pass through for a while. Relationships that never seem to really take off. Relationships that become forced over time. All in all, these relationships are very taxing for me.
I count myself lucky that many people have passed through my life. Each relationship has enriched me. They helped me see the greater diversity that makes up my life. As they fade and disappear, I mull over what brought us together in the first place. The reasons are as different as the relationships. Some were because our children were in the same activity. Some were because we had similar life situations. Others were through professional organizations or jobs. Many were because of a common interest or two. And, when circumstances changed, we parted quietly and moved on to the next stage of life.
Recently, I realized that many of my relationships were one-way streets. I was working very hard to make the friendships happen. I would schedule “dates” and be the one who initiated contact. The more I examined things, the more I came to understand that reciprocity was missing. In one case, I learned that a relationship was based not on mutual respect, but on what I could do for an organization. In another I looked backwards and realized a person didn’t make time for me and repeatedly broke “dates” because they didn’t feel like going out. Then, a few days later, I found out they had received a “better offer” and had gone out with someone else.
It hurt. I know I’ve lost many friends because of my illness. Some were “fair weather” friends who just decided I was too much work. Others didn’t know what to do, so they did nothing. A third group starting telling me they just didn’t want to hurt my feelings. I even had a group that was solely based on what I could do for them and they had no intention of reciprocating at all. At first, I missed these people and mourned the loss of the life I had. And then, I realized that my garden was blooming brighter and some of the low-lying flowers were now receiving sunlight. Those flowers have become the garden I cherish and look forward to spend time in.
There is still some bitterness, but mostly directed toward myself because I didn’t weed my garden sooner. I know that I am the only one who can change myself. Expecting others to change for me seems to only lead to heartache. I had to grasp the concept of my own self worth before I could see which parts of my garden could be weeded and which parts needed nurturing.
The bottom line is that even friendships run their course over time. There is no success to be found in forcing a one way relationship. While each friendship may develop because of self-interest, if it never moves beyond that initial phase it probably isn’t worth expending the time and energy required to keep it alive.