Recently, a friendship I’ve had since I was very young broke down. This got me thinking about whether drifting apart is inevitable when you live far away from each other. What do you think?
Overthinking and Anxiety
As an anxiety sufferer, empath and natural overthinker, my brain always goes into overdrive whenever anything goes wrong in my life. This is a frequent occurrence. Right now, my car is in the garage, my partner’s car is in the garage, the tumbler dryer has stopped spinning, and my bottom two middle teeth are chipped, needing fixing in some way. None of these things was my fault (except maybe my over-enthusiastic eating of a pork scratching on holiday!), yet I still fret over them, wondering what I could have done differently. Aside from avoiding the overly crunchy pork snack, there is very little else I could have done.
So, when it comes to the breakdown of a friendship, I always query why. A year or so ago, I was deleted as a friend on Facebook by someone I considered a close friend. Evaluating my actions, I realised that it was probably a comment I had made that was taken the wrong way. I messaged said friend asking for clarification on what had happened, but she chose not to reply. And that is her choice. I came to the conclusion that if our friendship had been that important, she would have read, responded and we would have talked about what went wrong. That didn’t happen. It wasn’t a friendship that was meant to last. Reflecting, we had been drifting apart for a while.
More recently, however, the friendship breakdown between me and someone I have known my whole life affected me much more. Since I was in college, I have had an interest in politics. A friend at the time got herself muddled up with some far-right extremists. When I found out that she was meeting one of them while we were on holiday together, I was furious and disappointed. I was also scared at how easily she had fallen in with these people. How could she not realise that they were dangerous? The guy she went to meet had been involved with an atrocious attack in London for goodness’ sake.
Irreversible Friendship Breakdown
This other friend, the recent one, also found herself following the actions of an abhorrent extremist. For a few years, I have been refraining from commenting too often as I would find myself pent up with anger, struggling to comprehend how someone I had looked up to for so long could trust the words of a criminal, a racist, a vile human being. We were definitely drifting apart. So, I chose not to ‘follow’ her any longer on Facebook. This meant that, although we were still ‘friends’, I didn’t have to suffer the regular posts about certain groups of people. I guess I was burying my head in the sand, hoping and praying that she would see sense and realise the errors of her way.
I posted something on Facebook recently about the man she adores… and she commented. The first comment I’ve had from her in a long time. The words were so hate-filled and telling me to educate myself on his views. I have done that in the past through extensive reading and I even lowered myself to watch one of his videos, but still feel the same about him and his constant vitriol of people who aren’t like him. Me being me, I couldn’t let the reply sit as it was. Several of my friends commented too, shocked at the apparent brainwashing.
In the end, she blocked and deleted me. To be fair, evaluating my own behaviour, I had said a couple of things that I don’t necessarily regret, but I could have worded better. Unfortunately, the damage has been done. And while I am sad that the friendship has ended that way, I actually don’t believe there could ever be a genuine relationship with someone who feels so negatively about so many people in the world. I have avoided using this man’s name within the blog post as feel it may be detrimental to do so. However, it is probably fairly obvious.
As I mentioned earlier, with every negative thing that happens, my anxiety forces me to consider whether there’s anything I could have done differently, to have prevented it from happening. In this case, while I should have not resorted to certain phraseology within my responses to my former friend, this breakdown was inevitable. It had been on the cards for a while. So, I suppose in future, when I discover something that breaks my heart about one of my friends in terms of their views, if I am unable to educate them, I will have to end the friendship earlier and save myself so much worry.
Does Distance Mean Drifting Apart is Inevitable?
I don’t believe that distance has anything to do with friendship breakdowns, to be honest. If you have a strong relationship with someone, it can withstand way more than a couple of hundred miles and not seeing each other regularly. It is often the huge conflict in viewpoints that ends a friendship. While a willingness to accept differences is important, when those things are so vile, there has to come a point when enough is enough.
My Northern bestie and I have lived apart from each other more than we’ve lived close (gosh, I’m showing my age now!). Whenever we see each other, it’s like we haven’t been away. Drifting apart certainly isn’t on our timeline at all. The belly laughter, the aching jaws and the reminiscing are hilarious… perhaps the distance is what’s kept this friendship so strong. Certainly, while we don’t see each other as often as we’d like, the miles between us don’t harm us.