I have always thought that the F-word should be used sparingly and only under certain circumstances. Any word, when overused, loses its meaning, so I’m very choosy with the people I decide to call my friends.
With social media, the word gets tossed around a lot and people have remedied it by grouping those they know into circles of friends, good friends, and best friends. I’ve maintained strictly grouping people as acquaintances (people I’m familiar with but don’t interact with), colleagues (this used to be classmates, but basically people I interact with regularly because proximity causes it), and friends (people I will go out of my to see and spend time with).
The specificity may seem ridiculous, but the labels are the result of years of bullying and ostracising. In my formative years, I attended a school run by family (principal’s niece, disciplinary officer’s daughter), and then after, the high school I went to had majority of the students speaking another language. On top of that, I looked different from most my classmates and had extremely different interests. I didn’t fit in and we all know being the odd one out in a room full of kids usually doesn’t end well.
Obviously, making friends wasn’t very easy for me, so the few that I eventually called my friends, I tried (try) my best to not take for granted. Many of the platonic relationships have lasted, and over time I’ve come to realise that letting things slide and accepting people as they are play a big part in the maintenance of a relationship.
But recently I’ve also come to realise that while we should be willing to overlook a few flubs and flaws, there should be a limit. When we don’t have a limit, we unwittingly become accessories to bad behaviour and things can get toxic really quickly.
I learned that the hard way because I once decided to put up with a one-sided relationship that had me being a sounding board; all her problems and issues she vented, but she never showed up on time, stood me up several times, and never really apologised. Whenever she needed someone to rant to and she knew I was still annoyed, she’d give me a half-assed sorry and then proceed with her rant and self-pity.
It was emotionally draining, especially during her periods of suicide threats.
I made excuses for her and figured it was probably because of the problems she was going through, and I also believed she was a real case of bipolar. But eventually, I reached a breaking point (details of which are not that important) and figured that while I called her a friend, she didn’t see me as that. She saw me as a free shrink.
Anger was what made stopping contact easy, but it was difficult maintaining the no contact policy I’d imposed. This was honestly the first time I felt like I’d just broken up with a friend, and I always felt like an ass when I thought about it.
I considered patching things up between us, but the people around me who knew about it all said the same thing: If you contact her, nothing will change. If she really wants to fix things, she’ll get in touch with you to apologise.
As expected, she never did. Not sincerely anyway. She sent me a block of text that started with “I’m such a terrible friend” and then it continued to be about her most recent failed romantic escapade and its effect on her self-esteem. She never asked how I was, or tried getting in touch with me about anything else at any other time.
It was disappointing, but also oddly comforting; at least I knew then, that she really didn’t care and that cutting her off was probably one of the better decisions I’d ever made.
Ideally, we keep all the friends we make, but sometimes, it’s better to let go.