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 a life-long friend!