17 July 2008

The Limits of Friendship?

Are you always a friend? Are you always understanding? When your friend hasn't called in two months, do you start to think maybe she's avoiding you? Or do you have the opposite problem... a friend who calls daily to chat when you're busy?

I'd like to talk today about the limits of friendship. We all have them, but maybe we've subscribed to the idea that if we're *really* a friend, we'll put up with quite a bit. And that may be true. Perhaps more likely, though, we haven't outlined for ourselves where our true limits lie.

In the past, I've let friendships die when I've figured out that our priorities are different or that *I* have a problem with gossiping around a certain person, etc. Occasionally it has nothing to do with the other person! I'd perhaps not call as frequently or allow busy-ness to settle in. I've a feeling sometimes this friendship weaning is a mutual process with no hard feelings, as we're happy to see one another again (or at least pretend to be happy) when we bump into one another around town.

It's the grey areas that are difficult to negotiate. I think, though, that it's very theoretical. I've had friends over, though, at least twice in the last year. I just don't think I have close friends at present. I homeschool during the day, attend church and go grocery shopping. That's it. I imagine that other ladies in my situation (having several children, or autistic children) are isolated as well. It's not as though we can all get together for play group. It's not as though our husbands aren't already stressed out and not particularly keen on our finding and expending ENERGY on keeping a new friend.

I'm able to drop by your place anytime, though, if I have your internet address. And the thing with internet friendships is that our personalities don't get in the way. You can read my THOUGHTS and I can read yours. You don't get hung up on the fact that I dress sloppily and am overweight. Or that my kids jump all over people and hug them while they discuss their life stories. You can't get a word in edgewise if you come to my house, be warned!!

Or maybe you figure out you hate my thoughts and move on to another blog and vice-versa. That's ok. With internet friends, the exterior is mostly gone, though I *do* have a pretty nice template provided by Blogger. You know, plain, simple... and I added a dash of colour to the title. Not too busy or cutesy.

Another thing with internet friends is that you don't have to worry AS much about boundaries. I'm probably really busy while you're reading this, but you go ahead and read it at your leisure, and in your own time, and leave me a comment when you jolly well feel like it. You won't inconvenience me by "calling" right now. I will check my messages later and come back when YOU are busy with other things and comment at your place.

What did we ever do before internet?

Well, I **still** have a penpal I've been keeping in touch with for about 12 years now. She has a daughter a day younger than G. Every few months I will get a long letter in my mailbox. That's pretty nice, too.

Have a great day and God bless ya!

13 comments:

  1. [I just don't think I have close friends at present]

    I don't have close female friends either. And, I haven't since moving to Minnesota. Part of this is because I am married to my best friend and don't really feel the need to engage other people. But, I know that when he is traveling, I get lonely; I blog alot. I also know that we have put ourself into a position of very few people in our support systems (not a good place when you are raising a child with a developmental disability).

    But, the other part is that Marissa reached her "peak" academically when we got here and I started homeschooling. We are off the culture grid, a weird family.

    I like to blog for some of the same reasons you do. I used to be active in several Yahoo groups, but I didn't feel free to write off topic. With my blog I can write about whatever my mind is trying to organize and not worry if my reader is interested or not. My blog doesn't invade your email box unless you choose to subscribe to my RSS feed.

    Still, I wonder how healthy it is to have all your "friends" be virtual. Superficial relationships aren't what the Body of Christ is intended to be. It seems those people who push the limits of our friendship are the very people who make us more Christ-like.

    So, I am joining a group of adoptive moms and reaching out. I was actually supposed to go for the first time last Wednesday, but then... I got the call from the U of M and had to drop everything to prepare to be gone for Beverly's procedure. The other thing that interferes with meeting new people is that I am so very, very busy.

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  2. Christine @ Live to LearnJuly 17, 2008 at 7:35 AM

    I think your post today is very interesting. I have had to stop maintaining some friendships because they took too much time away from my responsibilites as a mom. I feel much more freedom to pursue the friendships that really benefit me. Right now I have one best friend that understands my home life, with one HF Autistic, and doesn't judge me. For me it is better to have one deep relationship where we build each other up rather than trying to spread myself too thin.

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  3. Ah friendships. I actually love them oh so much! I have lots of friends that I call once in awhile or they call me and we get together. But I only have 2 kindred spirits.(love to quote Anne of Green Gables). Those 2 friendships are worth a lot to me.

    But I also like that I have met some pretty neat people on the internet and have had a glimpse into their lives. I enjoy reading them each morning and seeing what is on their hearts and minds.

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  4. Julie, I think honestly I am not READY to be challenged by others in the "parenting" area unless they "get" what living with autism or other developmental disabilities is like. I feel like I'm being judged too harshly. I don't WANT to be near other people because I get hurt too much.

    It's hard for me to see *when* someone is encouraging me to be more Christlike. Sometimes people use Jesus as a club to swack the daylights out of overburdened special-needs parents. Maybe I am too harsh on others who "mean well."

    I feel so overwhelmed right now that the slightest thing will send my entire house of cards toppling down. I feel like, if you can't say some nice things along with "Elf did... and you need to ... and I wouldn't accept... and I don't care if he has autism or not, there are certain standards for behaviour..." no friendship is ever going to develop with these people.

    I just feel that a friend doesn't tell you what you WANT to hear, but there's a need I have to have SOME validation or the friendship will never develop. Sometimes I think this need is most unChristlike, but then other times I feel people in general WILL USE Jesus to make YOU conform your behaviour or your childrens' to their standards.

    The adoptive moms group sounds like an excellent idea, especially as with Marissa you have some insights into what it's like "down the road."

    Christine, the cost of maintaining things is the reason I quit "ministering" to other people's kids each week in church a couple years back. I just have so much going on *right now* that I feel I need to just have that time away from children LOL!

    I'm VERY glad for you that you are able to maintain a friendship with someone in the same boat. I also have a friend with a HF autistic child, and we're good friends who see each other every three months or so? We don't really keep in touch. Another issue with autism is that even if you GET what the other person is going through and have very similar struggles, the children don't get along and you can't get together!! :] Maybe they are too much alike.

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  5. LOL Zimms you put your comment in while I was working on my comment and homeschooling away from the computer! I love kindred spirits. I think maybe it's a love/hate thing with the internet. Lots of people I would NOT get along with IRL are my good internet friends and people I would are sometimes NOT. But when you're there and you're just feeling that friendship click it's wonderful. Wow, now I'm starting to really miss that.

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  6. You know that I've written about this recently. Well maybe a few months ago. I have come to realize just how dear ilnternet friendships are to me. Especialy since I have you. You keep me going as a friend quite often. I love coming here and reading about how the kids are growing and other things going on with your life. Our internet friends have come from all walks of life. Some are just like us and that's fine. However some are nothing like us and that is fine too. We still have something in common or else we wouldn't be chatting online. I'm glad that your my friend. I am also happy with all the awesome advice you give me on little things that I tend to blow out of proportion. Thanks Mrs. C

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  7. Okay im goin gto stick my neck out here. I've been blogging for years now and I have never had the relationships online tha tI do with my real life friends. I have reallife friends that are wodnerful. I have a friend for every need in my life, homeschooling, parenting, dieting, quiet soultalk, etc. Each friend meets a different need. My husband is of course my best friend but women need women friendships.

    I love my online community but I do not feel closer to them then my real life friends. Real life freinds actually see me and hear me so they know me on a whole deeper level then the internet.

    I dont think its too healthy to have the majority of ones friends on the web. Women are missing out on an entire aspect of freindship. They are missing out on friendships as God designed freindships. With internet friends you have no reason to use any of the five senses. It is through the senses that we intuitively see the heart and the soul of our friends. Without that can we really call the bloggers we meet, friends as in the old fashioned sense of real friendship? I sorta doubt it. There is just too much missing.

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  8. Of course I do believe you are right, Mrs. Darling. And at the risk of offending my online friends, I could become about anyone I want to and blog only when I feel like having friends. No online friend is going to see me grumpy and mean. AND if I really get nasty and offend everyone, I run no risk of "consequences" when I run to the store or whatever. No glares or anything. So I agree. But I'm at the point where online is better than nothing.

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  9. Yikes the baby was crawling all over me and I had no idea I had so many typos. I really do know how to spell. tee hee

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  10. I do not have close female friends either. I have acquaintances but not anyone I can tell my secrets too. I just do not have the time anymore. I could have written this comment myself "I think honestly I am not READY to be challenged by others in the "parenting" area unless they "get" what living with autism or other developmental disabilities is like. I feel like I'm being judged too harshly. I don't WANT to be near other people because I get hurt too much."

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  11. Hmmm, friendship. Different things to different people.

    I'll be 34 soon. I've been married for 12 years. I have one child. I have one girlfriend from school, and maybe 3 or 4 other 'close' friends, total. Those others are recent- say, the last 3 years or so.

    We do not spend our lives in each others' pockets. Some, I rarely see. We're all busy- husbands, kids, jobs, whatever. I guess what I value about my friends is that we all take the time needed to 'care' about each other from a distance, if that makes sense.

    We are all independent women,yet totally committed to our families and that is one of the things I value about my friends. If I need one of them, I call them. If one of them needs me, they call me. The rest of the time, we catch up when we can.

    By the way, none of my friends are friends with each other. Each has her own 'other' circle of friends, of which I am not a part. Interesting, no? Part of getting older, more mature, less 'needy'. Who knows?

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  12. I have read this post three times and I have thought about my comment for a couple of days now. I still don't think that I can properly explain how I feel about my internet friends but you Mrs C are definately someone I am pleased to have met..

    cheers kim

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  13. I don't have any close friends either, especially since we moved cross country 2 years ago.

    I was starting to make friends here in my congregation but then we had a split early this year. I stayed and the people I was getting close to left.

    There are times I get lonely but having my own blog helps. Writing about the things I do can take a lot of time so I do have something to occupy myself.

    I do enjoy my internet friends. When I first moved there was one on line group especially that was important to me. If it hadn't been for them and my blessing to play with, the move would have been very hard on me.

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)