Thursday, March 4, 2010

friendship requirements??

For a very long time, I had specific ideas about friendship, and about what I needed and even expected from friends. I was often disappointed, and sometimes even ended a friendship because I didn't feel the other person was either holding up their end of the relationship, or they just weren't bringing anything positive to my life. I'm beginning to realize that, while it's true that you shouldn't hang on to connections that drag you down or stress you out, there are times when it may be best to really weigh the pros and cons of a frienship, and be more forgiving. 

My husband has told me on numerous occasions that I expect much too much from friends, and that I put myself in a position to be hurt and disappointed. I used to respond to this by saying that I knew what I had to offer as a friend, and that if I didn't feel an equal amount of energy flowing back to me, it was a sign that I needed to move on. I even chastised my husband because he was so forgiving of his best friend, who did some things I would never have put up with. When I got upset and asked why he would stay friends with someone who has been dishonest with him, he said: "Because I know what to expect from certain people, and what not to expect."

That gave me alot to think about.
Was I setting high standards? Was I expecting too much? 

I have a friend, we'll call her Linda. Linda knows alot about a particular subject which really interests me and shares this information. We walk our dogs together and swap recipes. I've learned interesting things from her, and she has also shown me very beautiful places surrounding this neighbourhood.

But Linda never asks how I am doing. And when I told her about my miscarriage, she responded with "Oh, that's hard, but you know, animals lose babies all the time, I guess it's a part of nature," and never asked how I was feeling in the days that followed. She spends alot of time complaining about her relationship, or explaining why certain job opportunities wouldn't work before she has even given them a chance. 

The old me would have probably ended the friendship, or at least let it slowly simmer away. But the new me focuses on the positive aspects of the relationship. My husband suggested that, instead of looking for everything I want from each individual friend, I should begin appreciating the positive parts of people, and be forgiving, and even compassionate, about the parts which I don't really like.

Here are some pictures from today's walk with the friend I mentioned. It was beautiful, with many little discoveries. And I thought, if I had ended this friendship, I wouldn't have seen these things today.

feeding station for the wild deer and birds

anyone home? a clever mouse built it's home right next to the feeding station

a piece of wasp's nest in a hay bale

hunter's look-out

the first stinging nettle buds of the year; soon we can eat it in salads and strudels


first lesser celandine of the year, high in vitamin c!

Tell me about your friendships, about what is important to you.
I would love to hear your thoughts.

xoxo country girl


  1. I have a very good friend like that too, it's all about her most of the time but I we've been friends for over a decade and I figure I may just be the only one she has to talk too like that, so I listen. Friends of all kinds are treasures and we learn from each one. Great post!

  2. i've learned over the years not to set up expectations with people because it just sets me up for disappointments. i'm much like your husband, i try to find the positive in people when it presents itself and not worry about the rest. it helps. there are times that some people's energy is just too exhausting (the me-focus) and i just pick the times i can handle it.

  3. Mmm. I loved these words from your husband: "Because I know what to expect from certain people, and what not to expect."

    How simple yet SO wise!

    Since my husband and I have started moving around, I have spent a lot of time re-evaluating friendships. One, I thought was almost lost (friends since we were 5 years old!) and finally addressed the problems I was having with her. I am SO glad I did because it saved our friendship!

    Another friend got on anti-depressants a year ago. She seems so much happier but has drastically changed from the sensitive person she used to be. She always talks about herself now and never asks anything about me or my life... it's very hard. It's like she's a whole different person. She's become very materialistic, too, and spends thousands of dollars on clothes. Which makes me think of all the millions of people in need.

    This friendship I haven't addressed. I know it's directly related to the meds, and I would never want to suggest that she go back into the "place" that made her think she needed them to begin with. Regardless, it's been weighing on me.

    I have decided that for now, it's my turn to be the friend to her that she was to me before medication.

    I have been trying lately to take the approach in the Prayer of St. Francis to my friendships. Trying to need less from friends. Trying to give more.

    Great post! It related so much to my biggest emotional struggles over the last few years!

  4. Dawn, we are so similar - I used to feel just like you and I didn't know how to cope with it when people let me down. I've still been trying to tackle the issue in my head but I was beginning to come to your train of thought here and it is so nice have someone else spell it out for you. xxx

  5. PS I really agree with Courtney's line 'Trying to need less from friends. Trying to give more.' that is the key... xxx

  6. Great post;). Ramon is very smart, indeed;). I, too, have come to re-evaluate friendships over the years. When I was growing up, in high school and college, I was always that person with numerous groups of friends and a huge social calendar. I would say yes to every invitation, even if I just wanted to be at home, watching tv or reading a good book. I slowly realized that what I preferred was to have a few close friends and to be able to spend quality time with them. I also realized that, as I got older and had more responsibilities, my free time was being crunched. Additionally, I got married and moved a bit further away, so it’s not easy to just hop in the car and meet friends when I want to.

    I now have four close friends (and mom, of course;)). These four friends are the ones that I will call and actually make it a point to meet up with, as often as I can. These friendships have endured and grown stronger through the years, milestones, life changes (good and bad). I don’t get to see my friends that often, but I know that they’re there for me no matter what, and I am there for them no matter what. We don’t have to talk every day- we just seem to pick up where we left off.

    I think that Ramon is right, in that you can’t expect to get everything from one friend; each friend brings something different to the table. But I also feel that it’s important to nurture the friendships that you truly love, the ones that truly make you happy; the friends who know you inside and out and love you as you are.


  7. You’ve had one of life’s ”little-big” epiphanies. Gathering friends is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

    You know of giving to others. Through all you share, on May All Seasons be Sweet to Thee, you give to others of yourself. This is a significant key to friendship.

    Forgiveness is worth it’s weight in gold. Forgiveness provides freedom and ease to receive people as they are. Most everyone has something to contribute to our lives.

    Each person we meet and spend time with is not meant to be a kindred soul friend. These are rare and the connection, when it exists, in unmistakable. Others we brush up against in our journey either have something to teach us or we have something to add to their lives.

    When confronted by persons who drain our life energy or cling like lichen, they must be released for our own well being.

    Your DH words were a great way to gauge friendship, his friend provided enough laughter and fun, to warrant keeping this friend.

    We each will weigh and balance our needs in friendship. I do not believe this is wrong. Personally, a friendship develops through common interests; a sense of humor; give and take communication; and do we enrich each others life.

    I am learning to be the friend, I want as a friend. We are not perfect but we are all learning. There will be disappointments. I am careful in choosing a friend and the process takes time. True friendships develop with ease and blossom as the seasons.

    I think, you are making self discoveries, and creating more space for life’s surprising gifts. You are blossoming, much like spring. Woo-hoo!

  8. Hmm.this really made me think.I have friends like that...where I have limited expectations...but the miscarriage comment would have really bothered me,too.(I AM very sorry for your loss)I guess your husband is right,you just have to go into the relationship with your eyes open, and you know...I guess she's not the one to go to for comfort, but for fun...and that's ok,too.What a great post.Have a wonderful day:)

  9. If friendships weren't already hard enough, they get even more complicated when you feel you can't fully trust a person.

    There are many cases of friends of mine who have issues with trust.

    There's one for example, who has an issue with trusting one with their past, with keys, with their own posessions and details of their life. Which makes me think, that to me it doesn't really matter, as most people are your freinds because of their present not their past unknown to you. I have shared details of my past with some friends, but haven't felt the need to share it with all. Maybe just becasue I do not wish to spread my sold out to the whole world, but not out of mistrust.
    Are friends who are so paranoid about opening up hiding terible secrets and issues of their past that will catch up with them one day????

    On the other hand i have a friend who does not trust any radical religiousness because they've been hurt by that type of extremism. I totally understand that, but I do feel that it comes to an extent where it affects personal relationships or can come to the point where they are discriminated for it. Beware if you wen t to Bob Jones university, it might unleash a mass murderer!!!!! lol

    My issue comes with a friend who has a habit of recurring bridge burning. And it's made me think, if someone goes from intimate soul sharing friendship to erasing the other persons number, address and all knowledge of their existance, is that really moving on or is it an unhealthy habit of not knowing how to keep a friendship??? You see the thing is that this friend who is now so intimatelly soul sharing and a little "needy" seems to always find themselves in this situation and it makes me wonder when my turn will be. So in reality it makes me not want to invest time and feelings in a friendship that will inevitably have an expiry date, although at the same time i feel sorry for this persons incapacity which will no doubt lead to lonelyness. There's only so many bridges one can burn.

    It's quite a dilemma you see, I don't actually have any friends. I mean I have some great friends, but not anywhere close enough to share this conversation about trust over a cup of coffee, life it seems to me, has decided I'm a better friend by correspondence, a friend to be enjoyed in concentrated spaces of time.
    Of course my time with friends who are overseas is intense and has a great quality factor more than a quantity one, but there are certain times when one needs a friend to taste one's madeira loaf drizzled with lemon icing and some hazel nut flavoured coffee, with background music and a full blown breeze of sincerity. At times like these, friend, it's when I miss you.

    So to trust a friend who does not trust, at all??? To bother with a friendship with soemone who burns bridges repeptedly??? To bother making friends with people just for the sake of having someone close by??
    Maybe that saying is right, friends, true friends are the ones you can count with the fingers of one hand. Doesn't say they also need to live in the same continet. Would be cool though, to be one of those persons who has a friend for mall shopping, one for hairdressing apps, one for breakfast in the sun....or even one for all those things. How lucky are we to have friends and even more lucky if they're the non drama, shoulder to cry on, laugh over an old memory, carry you home when drunk type of friend!!!!!!!!!!

    I hope to be a trustworthy friend, one you keep in your thoughts even if I'm far away one you know has a spare room should you need it. <3

    I guess you might think I'm lonely, but I'm not, I'm happy in my own company, in the depth of my own thoughts, but when it comes to understanding human interaction, i need other human to interact with.

  10. I have had a lot of similar situations within my friendships and to be honest I am sort of quick to leave when my friends disappoint me. I am better about it than I have been in the past but part of me wonders what I'm missing by cutting some people out of my life.

  11. I need to take that advice as well- I have very high expectations for friends, which is probably why I've kept so few! :p

    I have one best friend though, who has been my best friend since I was five years old. Our friendship has changed a lot though in the past year due to a boyfriend she has. We used to see each other every single day, now we see each other once every two or three weeks.
    I go through a lot with her; she constantly makes plans and breaks them, tells me she'll call me and never does, constantly puts her boyfriend before me... It's heartbreaking.
    My mom always tells me, "Move on and meet other friends," but I guess I'm just too loyal, and like you were saying in your post, I don't want to lose the fun things we do do together.
    So I'm slowly becoming to accept the change in our friendship, and do my own thing without worrying.
    I guess we all just have to accept that no one will ever fit into our personal standards, for everyone is imperfect. We should just enjoy our lives, and enjoy the little things our friends bring to us without thinking of the bigger picture.
    Sure, it's a little sad to accept, but then again, so are many things in life♥

  12. Such a very lovely post! Friends...its such a fast pace today and I dunno with the fast~whatever mentality maybe people forget to be real to be genuine. I feel the same. And with TV the callousness aroma that is in the air often. But I do have some close kindreds who really *listen* and are genuine...but they are so far away. Ive had to move to Houston now thats a rough and a challenge place! My close friends are in Lovingston. Shipman and Waynesboro Virgina. And many times Ive cried bc we had to come here and I don't have them now (nearby). But they are still there. I found two people I could call as a friend that are at my work. Genuine that you can call on and they understand. Your husband did give you very wise advice. Love who they are. Sometimes people *just dont realise* who we are and what we need! There are different *kinds* of friends I guess like he said.
    Like Tasha Tudor said..."take joy" take Joy in what they can give and who they are. They are little stars too that shine. I know how you feel tho. People just don't take the time. I often think where is the small gentle ways the kindness the gentleness...but its still there at times when we can find it!
    Come see my blog I ask you over as One who cares even tho I havent met you or many others...!
    Janet ox

  13. dear friend...I'd like to send you something yummy and mapley....can you message me so that we can exchange info xox

  14. Your blog is always so interesting and always gives me something to think about. I have always been blessed with so many dear friends but as time passes and lives change we loose some and gain others.

    Love the pictures I can't wait till our snow melts and we can discover our own little treasures!

    xoxo Gert

  15. hello dearest dawn!
    it was as though i was reading my own reflections...i too have experienced similar things in my life around friendship. as i have gotten older i have looked back, remembering old friends, and wondered if i had been too hasty in my decision to let them slip out of my life for reasons that seem so trival now. i have in the past stuck by the notion that if a friend hurts me over & over, will say things that make me feel bad about myself, or just disappoints me then life is too short and i want to surround myself with people who i feel truly loved and supported i have moved on without them. of these friends there are so many simularities in their personalities which i have found odd in a sense, and i have wondered about their presence in my life questioning what are they meant to teach me about myself or what am i meant to show them? what i think i have learned in most recent years is to protect myself more...which is hard as i wear my heart on my sleeve in all relationships...and remember that all people are different and focus on what they bring to my life because everyone has something good to bring and i was drawn to them & their friendship for some reason. i think my dear old mom said it best and i finally understood 'not all friends will be the same kind of friend to you that cheryl is and that's okay' {cheryl is my bestie...and i love her with my whole heart} i found clarity in that was true i was holding everyone to the same standard that cheryl sets...and the bar is pretty high. not all relationships will be the same, some will be lighthearted, some will be rich in deep conversations, some will be like a worn quilt; comfy and wonderful...remembering this and the differences in what the friendship is based on has helped me to learn to be more forgiving. it's true my sweet cheryl would never say something that another friend might say to me, because she knows my heart & soul....and that is a wonderful thing in it's own....forgiving another friend for not being 'my cheryl' seems silly to say, but is what i have had to do...i felt that everyone needed to be that kind of friend to me or they weren't worth the effort anymore. remembering that my good time friend who i can laugh for hours with is valuable too....but not to expect from that person what cheryl brings to my life...because it is special and can't be duplicated.
    it's funny that you wrote about this today...i was thinking of friendship today too. recently some of my friends have resurfaced in my life...ones that i simply lost touch with and it has been refreshing to talk with them as though no time has know that support was always there if i would have called on them.
    oh i may have rambled a bit, but i understand everything you say...this is a challenging one for me too.
    i'm sorry that she hurt you and i know how that one does hurt...but i'm glad that you are focusing on what she does bring. remember your dearest lovelies and how they would just seem to know the right thing to say to's true 'linda' may not...but remembering that there is value in that friendship too is a good thing....a positive thing. one i struggle with, but you sweet dawn i think have inspired me to call a friend, who really broke my heart this fall in some words that slipped out of her mouth, for's been weighing heavy on my chest and i think we need to clear the thank you.
    love you sweet girl!

  16. Oh, girl! I am so sorry to hear of your disappointments and expectations in friends. When I had my miscarriages I had a few insensitive girls around me as well. Their behavior hurt tremendously. More than I cared to admit even to myself, and never to my husband or sisters. I learned to let go though. Life's too short to spend it tethered to friendships that are only one sided.
    Hugs and love!

  17. Hi, I think I’m Linda.
    Dawn, I‘d like you to know how sorry I am to learn how you think of me. I‘m glad you still enjoy our walks and exploring new places close to our homes, but I don’t want to be superficial walk the dog friend. Or some kind of wanna-be-teacher.

    I wished you had talked to me more about your worries – to me it seems, we DID some intensive talking. I just don’t want to force myself on you, the matter is too delicate. We haven’t been friends for so long yet, I don’t know how much you want to talk about it with me.

    Also, I don’t think it’s true I never ask you how you’re doing, to me it seems you always come up with more practical problems if I do. And it’s not true that I merely responded with the biology thing about animals also having miscarriages. Believe me: It wasn’t meant to say „don’t be whiny“ – I wanted to soothe your worries, to tell you, things like that happen, it’s within the normal, you’re not infertile now, it wasn’t your last chance! You can still have a family!! That doesn’t mean I don’t know it hurts. I was trying to encourage you. I TRIED to be of help. Of course I haven’t experienced what you did, so I didn‘t know you’d get me so wrong. Sorry for choosing the wrong words, but these exact words would have comforted ME.
    My own tubal pregnancy, which cost me a tube, left me with the prospect of not getting another chance to become a mother ever. Being close to 40, this is my major fear concerning the family topic. For me it would be the biggest comfort to know I‘m still complete, I’ve had something that others had also, before they gave birth to a bunch of children. But I haven’t: I’ve had a loss also of an organ, which might mean for me the loss of a family to be.

    If I’m getting on your nerves with my relationship-thing, I don’t have to talk about it that much anymore. It seems you asked me about it, so I told you – I know, I tend to go on and on. I’m in agony quite a lot about my situation and NEED to talk about it. And I just haven‘t found yet the strength to give up on everything and start out with nothing. But didn‘t I tell you about my plans to make a change? You KNOW I’m just starting to find solutions.

    I want you to know I leap out my heart to you – when you first told me about it on the phone, I was about to cry. I thought you knew that.

    Sorry for posting such a sermon, but since you guys are talking about me, I wanted to make my point.

    Dawn, let’s deal with all that a little different from now on! I’m looking foreward to monday evening! :o)

  18. Oh yes I have one friend who for years I thought of as my best friend and she me. However time and many let downs later have taught me that she a is a lovely and sweet person who is a friend, but she certainly doesn't me well enough anymore to be a truly good friend. You for instance know me far better than she does and I would say you are a true friend indeed :) I can share thoughts with you and I know that you care about my feelings and take interest in the things that are important to I hope you know that I do you too.

    My friend has let me down more times than I can count, but I have come to learn that when we make plans and I write them in my diary that I must always complete the place and time entry with a ? Because I know it will be postponed. This has been a hugely painful learning curve for me as I used to take it so very personally and I thought that I was doing something wrong. I am such people pleaser that I could not entertain the thought that I was the friend who was not attentive enough. One day I twigged that I wasn't the weak link and I actually felt relieved and I didn’t hurt anymore as I could take my friend for who she is; a lovely, sweet, but ultimately rather flaky person who can never keep a date!

    Love you
    Morwenna xoxo

  19. I didn't post yesterday because I didn't have time to write something, but I enjoyed reading what everyone wrote.

    I came back today to read more posts. I read the "Hi, I think I'm Linda." post right now and honestly.... I assumed she did not read your blog. My apologizes to Linda. She must feel awful thinking everyone is talking about her.

    I think, Dawn, you are a kind and nice person, but I am shocked that you posted about someone, instead of talking to them personally, knowing that they would read about it here.

    Maybe I'm missing something....


  20. Hi Elise!

    I told my friend a while back about this blog, but had no idea that she actually read it.
    Ever since she wrote that response, we have been writing emails, and it's been amazing how this has opened both of us up, and how some misunderstandings have been revealed. I think we both feel closer now than before.
    If I had known she read my blog, I wouldn't have posted the details I did here. But I also don't know if I would have had the courage to bring it up face to face any time soon...I'll be honest, I'm not good at confrontation.
    For the record, I apologized that she learned about my thoughts and disappointments here, rather than in person.
    I can just be grateful that this friend is alot more understanding and compassionate than I ever thought, and look forward to the friendship growing and evolving.

    xo Dawn

  21. I'm glad it all worked out! My heart sank when I read her post.


  22. Your husband's approach is much like that one my best friend (who is a male). He's taught me alot and one of the most valuable is that people will do what you expect...because it's "who" we are. But if someone does something (positive) that we weren't expecting, that is a gift. It helped me to change my attitude and my thinking at a time when I was going through change (breast cancer and it's treatment). I knew I needed to be rid of "negatives" in my life and that included some people. Now I recognize that some people can give you what you need and some can't. And having people in my life who are able to fill those needs, some of the time and/or all of the time makes life rich.

    Wishing you good things from all the people who mean the most to you. xo

  23. well, you know I understand your sadness - we've shared on this subject. I found that friends or family were always scared of bringing up the subject, so avoided it. I also was given some advice along the lines of nature taking over..irked me to no end.
    In the end, a friend is there for you. I have a handful of people who I love and know would do anything for me if needed. I have other friends who I see rarely, who always talk my ear off and never listen to me, they set up get togethers, then cancel or simply never get in touch. I accept that this is how they are. They are friends, but not those that I count on when needed. They are who they are, and we are all flawed in some way. I've let many friends go over the years, but it was simply easier than trying to make something work. It shouldn't be hard or inconvenient.

  24. you are very wise to listen to your husband's
    loving counsel.

    i'm afraid that i might be that friend that never
    gives enough. sometimes, i become overwhelmed
    by the degree of need in my friends and withdraw.

    because THEY are such good friends they remind me
    from time to time that i am a bit disfunctional in this
    area. i try to do better, they try to understand.

    that's what makes a deep friendship and marriage
    we make allowances for each other's deficiencies
    but reveal when we've been hurt and then forgive.

    i have loved your blog and all the sweet comments
    before me.


  25. i think friendship should always be filled, with mutual love and respect. i just don't do well, with friends who are self centered, it's a huge message to me, on how they would be with other things as well. i guess, i have a long way to go, in the friendship dept. i love my friends, who love me. i adore people and expect nothing, but respect and love.

  26. This post sounds like it could have been written by me -- including the husband advice. :) One of my worst experiences of this sort was with a relative we called just after our son was born. I had had a horrendous labor and finally a C-section. She asked me how I was and I said, "Tired." She went on to tell me all about how tired SHE was b/c she hadn't slept well the night before, blah, blah blah... It's always all about her. Somewhere there is a balance in handling people. It's just difficult to know when to persevere and when to let go.



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