Taken for Granted: Long-term Friendships

Taken for Granted: Long-term Friendships

Friendships have been on my mind a lot lately. Since I’ve been learning more languages, I’ve been striving to learn more about the cultures that go with them. The topic of friendships in other cultures has come up in the language, travel, and lifestyle vlogs I watch.

The German culture has been my main focus lately. German vloggers and expats have brought up the friendship topic several times, and the ones I’ve watched have said that it can be difficult at first to make German friends. This is because Germans are typically more private and keep out of others’ business in general. They are not big on small talk. However, they say that once you become friends with a German you have a friend for life. I’ve even heard a German vlogger say that it’s more difficult to have long-term friendships here (in the USA), and that once you are close friends in Germany, there’s not much you can do wrong to ruin that friendship.

The American culture can be quite different when it comes to making and keeping friends. We are not as private. Small talk is our jam. We strike up conversations with strangers, become social media “friends” with mere acquaintances, and share quite a bit of personal information with others. It’s been said things here are a bit more fast-paced and also temporary.

So, although it may be easy to make friends here, those friendships may be more difficult to keep long-term. I have to say that I have noticed this about our culture even more as social media platforms have grown. We’re quick to become #besties with new friends. All the while, we kick an old friend to the curb because they offended us, hurt our feelings, didn’t do what we wanted, or just don’t fit anymore. We are becoming too vain, and our friendships are becoming too shallow. Roll your eyes if you must, but all too often what I just said is true.

Another cultural difference between us and Europeans is how bluntly they speak. They’re not trying to be mean. They just speak honestly. Ask a European if they like your new haircut, and they’ll say “no” if they don’t. Ask most Americans, and you’re more likely to get a “yeah,” “it’s cute,” or maybe even “it’s different.” We won’t generally say “no” in that type of situation. We live in the land of sugar-coating. Speaking honestly when someone asks for your opinion or advice doesn’t tend to work well here. Trust me; I’ve tried.

We get so easily offended. How dare a friend tell us what we need to hear? How dare a friend disagree with us? How dare they say or do one wrong thing?

Then we go ahead and do some more damage on social media. Seriously, y’all. Social media is damaging long-term quality friendships. Comparing and jealousy are running rampant these days thanks to social media. Before the days of FB and IG you didn’t know that Sarah hung out with Katie on Tuesday nights unless one of them told you directly. You didn’t know that three of your friends went to a concert together unless it was talked about in front of you. You could hang out with one friend without another friend getting upset because they didn’t get invited.

There was a lot let jealousy before we started tagging where we were and who we were with so frequently. I’m not saying jealousy didn’t exist in friendships before. It did. We just didn’t have so much of it in our face like we do now since we’re tethered to a device with multiple social media feeds at our fingertips.

We have got to do something about the decline of long-lasting friendships in our culture. Stop comparing your friendships to picture-perfect ones on social media. Let go of the jealousy that arises when you see a post of your friend with someone else. We’re allowed to hang out with others separately. Stop being so easily offended when a friend speaks honestly. Don’t ask a question, if you only want a sugar-coated answer. And quit being so quick to drop friends you’ve had for years because they made a mistake.

There is not a perfect friend out there. We all mess up. The beauty of friendship isn’t just about who’s there for you when you need them but also being able to extend grace when they need it from you. I trust a friend who’s willing to be honest, disagree, get upset, and still talk to me tomorrow over one that glosses over things and says what they think I want to hear.

You want life-long friends? Have more meaningful conversations, be less judgmental, and be more forgiving.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Prov. 27:6

Be brave!

Be blessed!

Be a life-long friend!

xoxo

Ash

Where Have All the Real Friends Gone?

Where have all the real friends gone?

I miss the days of real face-to-face friendship, before Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram took over our social lives. What happened to showing up at a friend’s house to see if they wanted to hang out? What happened to chatting with someone without worrying about what time it is or notifications beeping from our cell phones?

When did we allow ourselves to become so busy that we’re too busy for friends, but we can get lost in social media, YouTube videos, and Netflix? When did we forget the importance of making time for what really matters in life, like relationships, family, and genuinely connecting with others? My much younger siblings would probably just say I’m getting old.

Hmmm…Growing up. Getting old. Too busy. What terrible excuses those are for no longer spending time with other people.

Growing up, getting married, and having kids shouldn’t be excuses for not having friends. We don’t stop needing friendships, ever. We’re not created to be alone all the time.

We still crave community. We’re just seeking it the wrong way now. We’ve become too comfortable with clicking “like” instead of talking to each other. Commenting on one photo is not equivalent to catching up with a friend. It doesn’t compare to sipping a coffee and chatting or meeting at the park with your kids.

We’ve gone into hiding because of social media. We’ve built a wall between our posts and our real lives. That filtered photo with makeup just right translates into us not wanting to be seen at home without makeup. How dare we allow friends to see what we look like anymore?

The sweet sleeping children photo becomes a mom turning down a visit from a friend because she can’t possibly let them see the day-to-day truth of the messy house and kids running wild. One might think she doesn’t have it all together or that she’s not a perfect mom. Oh my!

I don’t care if you have makeup on or your house isn’t spotless. I’m not wearing any makeup right now, and no matter how often I clean, my house is never spotless. So friends, come on over! This is me. The real me. And I’d like to get to know the real you again.

Stop worrying so much about looking perfect. Don’t worry about what the house, the kids, and the husband look like. Just start reconnecting with other people again.

At the risk of sounding old again, call a friend.

Wait…what? You want me to phone a friend? Isn’t that a life line in some former game show?

We may have forgotten, but let me refresh your memory. That tiny computer your holding in your hands can still make and receive phone calls. You know, that magical ability to hear someone’s voice from far away?

Ok, sorry. That’s a bit heavy on the sarcasm.

Seriously though. We should give that a try again instead of letting the last of the telemarketers and the scammers make up the majority of our incoming calls.

But what about texting? It’s easier. It’s more convenient. Um, yes and no. It’s easier for the person who doesn’t feel like answering someone right now or the person who likes to have time to think of a good excuse to why they can’t do something. So, texts are another avenue for laziness, excuses, and even misunderstandings because we can’t type 100% the way we talk. The tone of our voice and little ums and hmms make a difference.

So, call a friend if you’re brave enough, or text if you must. Just make a move to reconnect. Make plans. Show up. Stop worrying.

There are things to do, even if some activities now seem uncool or outdated. Invite others over for dinner. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Cook out. Order in. It’s about the company more than the food. Play board games. Adults don’t have to stop playing games.

Do something simple. Go for a walk with a friend. Go for a drive. Take the kids to the park. Oh, and don’t forget that your friends who don’t have kids still exist too. We often get neglected once everyone around us becomes parents. We still need friends.

Those who work on making time for meaningful relationships with friends and family are happier people. Once our basic needs are met, happiness increases more based on our experiences with others than just having more things or more money.

Let’s stop focusing on likes, comments, and emoji and return to conversations, laughter, and hugs. Let’s be real friends again.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

Be brave!

Be blessed!

Be a real friend!

xoxo

Ash