I like new relationships. I love the thrill and excitement of the unknown. I love to study people, to get to know what makes them tick. What they love, what makes them feel special, what they really hate. I like asking people about their childhoods, ’cause I think that says so much about who they are today.
I genuinely enjoy that process of breaking new ground in a relationship, planting those seeds of friendship, seeing those first buds sprout.
But after a while I’ve found that the lustre of new friendship wears off. And the person who was once the object of my fascination is, well… old news. And predictable. And maybe mildly irritating. Eventually I start to feel like we’re having the same conversations over and again. And I’ve grown tired of working through her issues with her ’cause they never seem to change.
My rose tinted glasses are clear now.
I struggle to love my friends in the long haul because, truth be told, the more I get to know a person, the more disillusioned I become and the less I want to stay. “Familiarity breeds contempt” and that makes me sad. Why is that? Here are some of my thoughts on why a lot of our friendships don’t stand the test of time:
The romance is more delicious than the reality.
I once went to a restaurant that sold expensive flavoured tea. It came in a really pretty box and even had an amazing description about what was inside. I was excited! It smelled beautiful, I could not wait! It tasted like hot water with raspberry flavour squeezed into it. I think it happens in friendship too. We enter friendships knowing next to nothing about a person and have many assumptions about who the person is. All good things of course! But then we begin to learn about the person’s idiosyncrasies, the things that are really not attractive and those that are plain old nasty! And maybe there’s nothing particularly disturbing about a person but when you get to know them you find out that they’re just a normal human being. Like you. And that’s boring.
We want relationship with people primarily for what we can get not what we can give.
We all enter relationships with expectations, usually high ones. And those expectations are usually attached to the other person’s behaviour, not our own! Most of us start a relationship for what it can do for us, I think that’s an easy fact to prove. For example, invariably, I begin friendships with people because they make me feel happy. Or because I feel a connection with them that makes me feel happy. Or because they’re a really great person and when I’m around them I’m happy. And so a friendship is begun for happiness’s sake and the expectation is that that person will fill your happy tank. But people are flawed.She’s having a bad day and snaps at you. Happy tank down. She forgets your birthday and you get offended. Happy tank in trouble. You have a disagreement and she says something really really hurtful.
Good bye happy tank.
We don’t truly want to know someone or be known by them.
Maybe you’re fearful cause you think that if people knew who you really were they would never love you. So you cut friendships short when they’re getting too close. Or you love the convenience of shallow friendships and time tends to deepen things. So you love and leave them.
Maybe it’s ok to have ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ friendships. Maybe that’s just how some people are made. But I’ve been feeling challenged about building lifelong friendships with people that stand the test of time. A couple of years ago, one of my friends said something about how our children/ grandchildren will one day play together. She said it in passing but that stayed with me. And scared me. Because I realise that that kind of friendship will only last if built on a foundation of humility, trust and selflessness. That’s what love is. I feel inadequate. I know my heart does not have that capacity. But being fathered by God has taught me so much about the meaning of faithfulness. And His friendship with has taught me what it means to love someone with an everlasting love.
The Lord said to Israel a long time ago: ” I have loved you with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” Jeremiah 31: 3