Friday, December 10, 2010

Friends

How many of you horsey people out there have real friends that don’t also participate in horses?
While I find that having horses and participating in horse sports lets me meet lots of people and be social, I have very few real friends. I just don’t have time unless they want to visit while mucking a pen. I don’t get out for coffee or a movie very often. “Just hanging out” when there are chores to do is almost impossible.

Many people seem offended when I let them know that I really don’t have time to invest in a relationship beyond the casual conversation at work, or “small talk” at the stable when we happen to be there at the same time. It’s nice to be able to say “we should have coffee sometime”, but I don’t because I know it will never happen and I don’t make promises intentionally that I know I won’t keep.

I hear over and over again “you should make time”. For better or worse, horses make up a significant part of my life. Family and a long distance boyfriend take up much of the remaining time. I DO make time for those things that are important in my life, but I cannot spend my time feeling guilty because someone has decided that they want to be friends and then feels snubbed because I can’t commit to the same level. At this point in my life, just because I may enjoy someone’s company doesn’t mean I can necessarily commit to a friendship. I actually start to get nervous if I start feeling “too close” to someone that could mean a friendship that I might feel obligated to make time for.

Not to mention it’s easier to find something in common with someone if their passion matches yours. If 80% of my life is spent thinking, riding, and caring for horses, then it makes sense to have friends that have that same passion, especially because most of my family doesn’t share my passion, nor does my boyfriend.

There is something commendable about having a life-long friend. However, more likely most of your friends will come and go based on what life stage you are end. I think sometimes we (meaning “the culture we live in”) has a hard time letting go of friends. I think Facebook/Myspace and other social media is a testament to not being able to let go of the past. I hear regret in people’s voices when the talk about not having seen a friend in some time, or losing track of a friend. I used to feel this way to. “We were such good friends!”, “Why can’t I make this work?”. Reading CS Lewis’s “Four Loves” book helped me to understand that often friendships originate in a certain life circumstance (a hobby, a club, a similar lifestage) and when that circumstance change, often the friendship will fade as well. It’s normal, and growing apart from friends as life moves on is part of life.

Recognizing this has helped me to live “in the moment” with my friends. We are friends RIGHT NOW because of work, or endurance, or blogging, or church, or tragedy, or life stage. When that circumstance changes, so will the friendship. I tend to not talk about the future – as in “someday we should go get coffee”, or “wine tasting would be really fun” – if we are going to do something then let’s DO SOMETHING SOON.

During Christmas I often start to feel regret as I think of all the friends whom I have basically “ignored” over the last year that I wish I still had a relationship with – fencing and college buddies, past hobbies and clubs, old co-workers, college roommates. But then I remind myself that life changes and so do friendships. I remind myself of the good times we had and if I know their address, I’ll pop a xmas card in the mail just to say hi.

9 comments:

  1. Good post.

    I think part of it is genetic. I have always been the same way while my parents/your g'parents are keep track everybody you even remotely used to know.

    Pa

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  2. I think you are very focused and maybe an introvert type personality. Myself, I love people, but generally love them from afar or until catastrophe strikes whichever comes first. Most of my life I was unable to embrace my love of horses, now that I can I will totally and selfishly immerse myself from March until November. My "friends" sometimes do not understand, which makes me re-evaluate are they my friends really? I would not think of taking them from that which they love to do, I'd rather cheer them on in their passion. It would be fair to say that I am a good friend, but not a good socializer (which I find a bloody waste of ride time). I'll bet you are a good friend too :)

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  3. I have tons of horsey friends, but I also have some non-horsey friends as well. I do compartmentalize my life a little bit in the fact that I have movie friends, going to the bar friends, going out to eat friends, etc and never shall they meet each other. I think the difference is that my parents live in Az most of the year and I am single so I need those non-horsey friendship connections to feel like people out there still care about me (only half kidding). I love having a best friend that is not horsey. It is fun to have someone listen to you ramble about your horse and not cut in with a story about their own one and a while :P

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  4. I have several "sets" of friends, but there are a few "uberfriends" who overlap the catagories. There are the horse friends of course. Also storytelling friends, and some library friends. There are also a few people who are just so extremely interesting that they are friends I love to hang with even though they aren't horsey or storytellers or librarians.

    That said, I'm happiest when I'm with the horses, and I'm easiest to like when I'm happy. It makes sense that most of my friends are horse people!

    Also: horse people need to be with other horse people. The parents of my "horse girls" recognize that, and made sure that their daughters spent lots of time with their "horse parents" when the kids were in high school. Although the girls are now technically adults (gasp!) they will always be my horse daughters, and I will always love them. I only see some of them a few times each year, but as soon as we're in the same room, we go back to chatting about horses and riding as if we've never been apart.

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  5. I have had to pick up and move several times because of my husband's job...so I have had to make new friends wherever I land. We have horses, so naturally are attracted to other horse people. It's much easier to start up a new friendship when you already have a lot in common and understand the time constraints that horse ownership can put on making time for friends. I have had some very good friends in the past that I remember fondly. However, I do not feel the need to keep in touch forever. I feel that people come in and out of our lives for a reason.

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  6. I've been pondering the friend issue lately, too, and found your post really timely and inspiring. It must be the time of year to consider such things.
    I like people and enjoy spending time with others, and yet have a hard time making those efforts to 'be a friend' (heck, I have that trouble with family, even!). Those social nicities such as coffee, dinner, movies, barbeques and parties, not to mention the 'just keeping in touch' calls, all seem really hard and just ... busy-ness to me.
    But I haven't been able, as you have, to shake the guilty feeling that I'm not doing enough to nurture the friendships that have been offered to me. Will I regret it when I'm older?
    But perhaps it's not so strange to have 'a riding buddy' and a 'running pal' and a 'fitness friend' and not really want or need to expand that to a more complex friendship? Maybe that's enough for them too?
    What more do I really have to offer but my interest in the things that also interest them?

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  7. There's no need to feel guilty. You understand the simple truth that relationships take time. No time, no relationship. No one can juggle an infinite number of close relationships. Heck, I find it tough to give every horse, every dog, and my husband and family the time it takes to keep those relationships where I want them.
    You can't eat limitless desserts and stay at a proper weight. Not possible. The same is true of relationships.
    I applaud you for knowing not to promise what you can't deliver.
    Sure, there are many, many folks I would love to have as close friends. There are many, many horses I would love to have in my barn.It's just not possible.
    Reality and respect for others requires us to choose.
    Be blessed this Christmas and lavish love on those in your life.

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  8. I think I'm much more comfortable with a "compartment" friend than an "overall" friend. As in - a running friend, a church friend, a backpacking friend, an endurance friend(s) :), etc. instead of someone who is a friend in multiple aspects of my life.

    it will be interesting when I move back to the area I grew up in next summer. Right now I live in an area where I don't know anyone aside from my co-workers (and as someone who is in management where most management in old married men , it's extremely hard to be social and have it be appropriate). When I go back to northern california, there will be lots and lots of people I used to know and have friendships with. It will be interesting to see what happens.

    I come from a largish family, so for now I think most of my relationship needs are being fulfilled by family members.

    very very good comments by all of you. I've enjoyed reading them and thinking about them very much.

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  9. I know I'm late, but wanted to throw into the comments too.

    I am not someone who has a lot of time to just "hang out" either, and if a new acquaintance wants to just "hang out" that's not going to work at all! I am someone who likes to see a friend and get together about once a quarter, and I have finally found other people who are like-minded. Some people get offended by such rare get-togethers, but when you find the friends who you can be away from for months and the come back and truly enjoy each other's company - those are the ones to hang onto!

    And it is hard to accept that high school friends no longer are, or that old college roommates no longer are close friends like they once were. But it happens, and it's okay.

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