As I have mentioned in a previous blog post, when I explained the game of ‘Friendship Tennis’ I went through counselling with my local NHS mental health service. I knew I needed to seek a little guidance and help to boost myself and get me out of the dark hole I had found myself in. This was when I found out about the friendship timeline theory that changed my attitude.
One of the reassuring themes that we discussed was my overwhelming habit of feeling negative about myself and not feeling good enough.
Friendships were the reason I felt bad about myself.
Or so I thought, anyway. But I felt bad about myself because I wasn’t investing in myself enough. Thankfully, with my counsellor, I began working on my self-esteem and building it back up by doing things for myself.
Building up my self esteem is ultimately what made me feel better about myself, my life and those in it. More of that another time! If you need to boost your self esteem- this book on Amazon is amazing.
At the time though, I was always dwelling on the past. It’s an extremely common thing to do when you have anxieties. In particular, I was dwelling on those that had left my life. I was constantly blaming myself for the friendships that had departed. I was constantly questioning what was wrong with me.
It all changed when I learnt about timelines and friendships.
I once questioned my counsellor on why people leave. It was then that he gave me advice that I have taken away and never forgotten. It has completely changed my view on life and friendships. I will explain the theory below.
In life, we have a timeline. This runs linear. But what if our friendships don’t run linear? Also, imagine all of the hundreds of people that will cross our path in life. Do we really imagine that we can carry them forwards, for the rest of our lives along side us?
Friendships can’t last the entirety of our lives. There are far too many people to meet, that will weave in and out of our lives. Friendships also don’t have to run in a straight line. Some friendships come and go and come back at a later date again. Some come and then go, on with their own pathway in life.
Some friends are for a season, a reason or a lifetime.
This is a well known saying that I have heard hundreds of time. But now more than ever it makes sense. Not everyone can always be a part of your life. Some are there for a season. Some suit your current lifestyle and situation, but will not always. For example, I had a lovely group of friends at university but I haven’t remained in touch with all of them. But the ones I have, are extremely special to me.
Some people are there for a reason. They could be there to teach you something, show you want you don’t want in a friendship, or teach you about yourself. For example, a recent friend of mine I thought the absolute world of, however, after some time she became distant and then just stopped talking altogether and went on her own way. I was so upset when it initially happened, but I learnt a lot from the friendship.
I learnt not to afraid to be myself, not to cover up the good things in my life just to stop a friend getting envious. I also learnt a big lesson- if someone is talking negatively about friends of theirs, there is a good chance that is how they speak about you too. That is something I watch out for now.
Then there are lifetime friends.
Life time friends are the one that stick around for the long haul. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t weave in and out of your life. My best friend and I have been through times where we’ve been so close, then haven’t spoken as we’ve both been busy with our own lives, seeing each other all of the time to now catching up where we can. But because she is a lifetime friend, I know she’s there if I need her.
You can go weeks, months, even years not talking to these lifetime friends. When you do eventually talk, it feels like no time has past. So just because a friend is being distant with you now, if they are meant to be in your life in the long haul, they will weave in and out.
The correlation between friends and the effort made.
Another thing that I learnt, is you need to realistically look at how close a friend is currently and expect a certain level of effort based on that.
It doesn’t mean they will always be at that point, but take note for now;
- If a friend isn’t a close friend, you don’t need to be talking or seeing them regularly at all. They don’t fit into your life as easily as maybe they once did. Make sure you are playing the tennis game. Effort should work both ways, but don’t expect it to be too regular.
- If they are fairly close, but not a best friend or a daily part of your life, you will speak fairly regularly but don’t have to catch up too often in person.
- If they are close and fit into your life perfectly at this moment in time, you will probably be speaking most days and meeting up a couple of times a month. These are your close friends for now but who knows where they will be on the friendship line in the future?
I hope that this has helped you to realise that a persons effort should be based on where they’re at in your life. I hope it has shown you that just because a friend isn’t close with you currently, that might just be for now, but in the future you may be closer.
If they have departed and are on their own pathway in life, then wish them well but know that they have served their purpose, season or reason.
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