The evolution of friendships

It’s never easy to leave your life behind to start a new one in another country, hemisphere, etc. It’s particularly never easy to leave friends behind, especially those you’ve had for what seems a lifetime. But it’s also a kind of Darwinian experiment. Survival of the fittest friendships, if you will.

There are some friendships that are so solid that space, time, distance or WHAT HAVE YOU, would never really touch the quality of the said friendship. The necessary adjustments are automatically made. Email, IMing, and phone calls replace the regular lunch/dinner/happy hours you’d normally look forward to after any given workday.

It’s a curious thing, the evolution of a friendship.

I think back to the kinds of friends I had when I was in grammar school and most of those friends are ones I was in the same class with year after year in Catholic school. We were friends by default because we all moved through grades together. We played in the same yard, wore the same uniform and agonized over the same teachers. Not to mention the agony that brought us together with one said music teacher (who btw, was also a nun and just about the meanest old witch you can possibly fathom.) I had fun growing up with those friends from 2-7th grade. Still, our friendships ended really, when I moved to another city and transferred to public school. And just like that, we no longer had the common bond that held us together.

In high school I had a few really good friends whom I cherished but there exists two reasons (I recognize them now) for why we drifted apart. 1) They grew up waaaaaaay faster than I did and began drinking and attending parties before I did. 2) I started dating a guy who was a million times older than me (and not that cute, WTF was I thinking?) This guy never wanted to do ANYTHING with me bc my friends were all younger. The result? I chose him, not them. And they carried on with their lives sans me.

In college, and a little after college too, I finally made really good, solid friends. The type of people that really enrich your life. Funny people. Insightful people. People who didn’t really share my background but that’s why I find/found them fascinating. Do-gooders and achievers. Witty and smart. These friends are the ones proving to lead the others in the Darwinian experiment that automatically arises when you move to another planet – I mean, country. With these, more “grown up” friendships, it’s been easier to survive the life changes (and by that, I don’t mean menopause). Even though some went on to live with their boyfriends or went on to get married and even moved to different States, we mostly remained friends despite it all.

But NOW, even some of those friendships won’t last, I’m beginning to realize. Because if you aren’t “there” in the day-to-day, the fact of the matter is that life goes on. Without you. These friends will get involved with new life projects and all of a sudden there is little room for the relationship you once had with that person. And the thing is, it’s not because you don’t have the room in your life… that’s the most frustrating part about it. You begin to get the sense of “out of sight, out of mind” from the other end. And it’s really quite a sad realization.

In fact, I’m realizing an evolution between my friendship with my best friend right now. Not a detrimental, friendship-ending change, but a change nonetheless. She just got a new boyfriend and the thing looks mighty serious. Before my move to Chile, I was in the know of almost all the boys or men that went in and out of her life probably from the start. This time, when I meet him, it will be a done deal between them. Not that my blessing was ever needed for her to decide on dating someone but it’s weird to know that this guy MIGHT be the guy she marries and I’ll never really know him. To me he’ll forever be this random (albeit nice) guy she ended up with, no matter how in love they are (or will be).

Then I remember that she went through that first. And not only is Gonzalo the random guy that I ended up with in her eyes but he’s also the random FOREIGNER who, yeah, treats me well and adores me, but who also TOOK ME AWAY to another planet (I mean, country, sorry.) So in the end, what makes our friendship different is actually the common denominator we both share. Random guys who came into our lives!

It’s not all evolving in a bad way though. There are some friends that I actually keep in touch with MORE and feel more involved with BECAUSE of the distance we now have. These are the friends I engage in hour long IM sessions at least three times a week because I feel the need to catch up or else my week isn’t complete! And of course I can’t leave out the great people I’m becoming friends with while living here in Chile. It’s hard to say if some of these people I’m friends with merely because we have the “Hey I live in Chile too” common denominator but I do feel that though that is what brought me to them, some of these women are so cool, I’d be friends with them in Siberia, California, Casablanca or Helsinki. Just cooool peeps and I’m glad to have come across them.

Yeah friendships evolve and I guess that means that sometimes friendships end. But not always. As long as there is general interest from both parties to actually KNOW about the other’s new life, then most likely than not, the friendship will survive. It’s so easy really. Sincere interest and willingness to take the time to communicate, is all it takes. No matter which planet you live on or the times zones that separate you.

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3 thoughts on “The evolution of friendships

  1. i stop trying to figure out why i'm friends with people and if they are "real" friendships and just started to focus on getting to know them better and enjoying the time we spend together…and of course circumstantial friendships have their upsides…i've definitely become friends with people since moving here that i probably (defintely) wouldn't have been friends with in the US…but i am SO happy that i decided to dig deeper…and it is sad that friendships change..especially in this weird cyber age of FB and twitter and blogs where you actually SEE your friends lives going on w/o you which of course is wonderful in many ways but also makes you think like "aw i wish i could have been there" (as I look at my friends halloween in vegas pix …tear!) but when you start getting down you just have to remember to stay positive like magic johnson.

    ok that joke was in really poor taste but i still think it's hilarious.

    i hope i'm someone you think you might be friends with on mars but given your taste in movies i'm not sure i feel the same way : )

  2. I basically wrote this exact same blog post a year ago. I don't think anyone who never leaves home truly understands the way that friendships grow (or don't) and the feelings that go on when you're leaving someone behind or vice versa.

  3. I feel like this is the story of my life because I haven't been in one place long enough to keep up with my home friends or truly develop new ones. And I agree, few people from home understand what it's like.

    But hey, at least we have an AMAZING crew in Santiago and whether we like it or not, it's hard to maintain strong long-distance friendships over the years.

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