Communication in friendship is important. In fact, it’s so important that without it there’s a good chance that the friendship itself won’t survive. In some friendships there will be little communication for months on end, yet when it eventually happens it’s as if there had never been any gap. Neither side holds any grudges or recriminations; both simply appreciate the friendship for all it is.
Other friendships are much, much closer than that, and result in at least daily contact. Whether it’s a WhatsApp conversation that lasts for most of the day, a quick call in the morning and evening or seeing each other face-to-face, some friendships grow and grow until you can’t imagine life without them in it on a near constant basis.
Until they’re not. Until they disappear, either quickly or slowly, getting more and more distant like the sound of a police siren in the distance or the setting of the sun on an untouchable horizon; they slowly but inexorably fall away and out of sight and sound until you’re left alone.
And in a certain situation that’s magical.
Since becoming single I’ve made a number of friends who have been marooned in the same boat as me. Some of these have been online friends (yes, they are REAL friends before you comment) but some have been in-person friends too. At various times we have been closer than close, talking almost every day, supporting each other through the trials and tribulations of dating and trying not to let each other fall too far when things go wrong.
Until, one day, they don’t go wrong. A first date they go on turns into a second date, a third, even a fourth. The friend starts sharing tales of families being met, of holidays being planned and jobs being changed. And, as time marches ever on, these tales become rarer, become fewer and become further in between. Eventually this evolves into no more than monthly messages saying “It’s been too long! We really need to get something in the diary!” followed by promises to do that and nothing more.
The things they used to confide in us over stop, the worries they shared and the hopes they dreamed about are no longer discussed and they become another of those friends who you only ever see at weddings and parties.
Though, that’s not entirely true. They are still having those worries, those hopes and those fears, but now they aren’t relying only on you to go through it all with them. They know you would, of course, but now they have someone else in their lives, someone they are growing even closer to and are entwining themselves with over weeks, months and years.
And it’s glorious to see.
To see someone you care about finding someone who will be there for them, support them and care for them every bit as much as you do is amazing. This person, who neither of you knew even existed just a few weeks or months ago, is now the first person they turn to and lean on and, despite a tiny bit of envy that you aren’t that person to them any more, nothing can be better than seeing friends truly happy.
We all need help, we all need love and we all need support, and when we are single we get that from a range of sources. When we become part of a relationship this naturally has to change; there is only so much time to go around, so many conversations to be had and so many ways you need to go through things with others. When one person steps up, others can step down, safe in the knowledge that things are going well.
That’s not to say that couples should drop and ignore their friends, of course. People need friendships and get things out of them that a partner might never be able to provide. But partners can provide a lot, and should be the prime supporter of each the person that they are choosing to share their life and their love with.
Every time one of my friends steps back from communication after finding someone, therefore, I don’t get angry. I don’t get upset or disappointed; no, I try to be happy for them. I remember that they are getting the love they need and are thriving, and simply check in to remind them that I’m around whenever they need or want to see me. I try not to be jealous of the other person or see them as encroaching upon our time or stealing my friend from me; I’m not a teenager from a bad American 90s movie after all.
And should the worst happen and the relationship ends for whatever reason I never, ever hold it against them when they start being more communicative once again. I’ll continue to be there for them for as long as they need and to whatever extent I’m able to be. I know they’ll be the same, too. True friendships aren’t merely those where you talk the most, after all; they’re ones which evolve and mature, which ebb and flow and which above all put the needs of each other first.
Be the friend to others that you wish you had for you and you’ll be surprised at how soon those people step up for you too.