I have an acquaintance who used to be a very good friend. It’s sad that we don’t talk very much any more, or see each other that often. She blames for this – her view of friendship is that I ought to stay religiously in touch: a call once or twice a week, a night out once a week. Needless to say, I don’t manage this. My own mother is lucky to receive a call every fortnight. As a result, she refuses to contact me off her own bat. I have to initiate contact, otherwise there will be none. And even when I do, if my offering is judged unworthy, I will receive no communication back. I accept some blame for this – I am not as organised as I could be.
I suppose we have clashing definitions of what friendship is – mine is wider, vaguer: people that you like and keep in touch with and when you see them, it doesn’t feel like time has passed. I have friends I don’t see or hear from for a year but seeing them again is welcome and nice. They are still my friends. Obviously, I understand the need to be discerning about what constitutes a friend in opposition to someone you know/used to know but I have a feeling I am in the right here.
The issue is that it is no longer possible for me to be a friend in the way she so desires. We are no longer at university, living in the same house. I live with my partner, in a different city. I work a nine hour day in an hectic, stressful job, with four hours commuting on top of that, for 5 days a week. I have commitments to my work colleagues, my family and my partner which tend, due to necessity, to come before my social life. She is still a student, taking a more lax and flexible course than before, in the city in which I work. I don’t think that it is unreasonable to expect that, at this point, she should make some effort to contact me, or to try and arrange her schedule around mine rather than getting cross when mine does not match hers. That maintaining our friendship should be the responsibility of both of us rather than just me.
To be honest, it has reached the stage when I am increasingly unlikely to call her. Meeting up involves ten minutes of recriminations, half an hour of me apologising and then another hour or so of her looking martyred. I no longer feel I can apologise for having a life – we grow up, move on, our time is more precious. And I feel cross and frustrated that she makes us go through this ridiculous pantomime and makes sustaining our friendship such a challenge.
I think it is time to let this one go and I’ve been reluctant to do it because losing a friend is sad. However, you need to pick your fights carefully and this is definitely one battle I’m never going to win.