Thursday, November 10, 2011

Friendships and Human Relations

Todays post (updated for 2013) is not about anything technical related, its about friendships and humans relationships, something that can be one of the most important, joyful or frustrating things of our human existence. 

Some people give little thought to our human interactions with others, others can find it defines who we are as a person,  it all relates to a conversation I had with my son a little while back. 

As I am now in the "seasoned" part of my life , my son (whom is his early 20's), asked me this question the other day, he said "Dad, how come some friends of mine, never return phone calls, e-mails or SMS's , and I have to chase them up all the time? what's the story?"

My response, was, well son, sit down and let me tell you a story about friendships...
Having been around a while, I have asked this question of myself (many times), and so has my wife of 26 years, we have both found over the years that many people treat friendships as one way streets. They never drop in to see you. You have to go and see them, they do not call you, you have to call them, they never return phone calls you have to keep leaving messages. Does all of this sound familiar? I find after a few years I no longer see these people. I have had many "friends" whom I have had over for dinner parties, but you never get invited back, but then even go so far as to ask you, when are you doing another party? I have even said out loud, to one so called friend, "when are you going to do one at your place?" then you get looks of offence, like how rude of rude to impose yourself at our place.

On the odd occasion you might see these "friends", (which are not friends, I call them an acquaintance now), and they state "Oh I haven't heard from you in ages, how have you been? " etc etc... and they are all friendly, but wonder why YOU haven't been in contact with them. One person in whom this type of conversation was going on for years, I eventually confronted them , and said, " has your phone been out of order? " with puzzlement they looked at me, and didn't understand my question, "what do you mean?" , they asked? I said" you haven't phoned me, or seen me, so I presumed your phones been out, and your mobiles been stolen, and your internet has been out and your legs broke".... "Oh, ha ha , funny, I was waiting to hear from you!" , they stated. This is when I sigh, and just walk away... many people don't see it, they don't see when they are being all one way with their "friendship" (if you can call it that). They expect you to do all the running around after them, do everything their way. They cant take the time out of their day to see you, or put themselves out. I myself have always made time for, and done things for true friends, to which over the many years have found very few. 

Many acquaintances I have had, but VERY few true friends, and by true friends, I mean the ones they will put them selfs out for you, invite you back for dinner parties, make time for you, and return your phone calls, even if they are busy they will let you know they cant talk right now, but want to as soon as possible, when they have a free moment. 

I get that some friendships are just passing ones, ones that you need you have to get a job done, or ones they you only have coffee with once in a blue moon, not all friendships have to be the close, emotional types, I get that. The people that pretend they are the close ones, but are not, is what gets me, and yes I also understand that this type of manipulation has been going on since the dawn of time. Its understanding that that helps. The term,  fair-weather comes to mind. 

The true Friend is what many people seek, but can not find! These are the people that want to know you the person, not you the person that may know people that can help them leverage things or be able to do things for free or cheap for them. Those people are very rare indeed, and if you find a friend like that, hang on to them, as they are as rare as diamonds. I married my best friend, and thats the best friend I have ever had, hopefully you might find a friend like that too... but don't worry son, real friends do come along, but you will find most people you meet are not friends in the true sense of the word but really are acquaintances. Thats just life.

I have only a very few people in the category of true friends, one which lives out of state, but when we do catch up, its like nothing has changed. Maybe its the distance that keeps this type of friendship fresh alive, fresh and meaningful, or maybe its that they are true friends, and distance doesn't mean anything, and both parties accept that you will be out of contact for months. Although you still may exchange e-mails, phone conversations etc... its still not the same as being in physical presence with some one. A person that you can read all their body language, facial expressions etc.  

(A side note, a famous linguist once said 70% of communication of the human language is done via body language, facial expressions, with tone and inflection of voice. The actual words themselves make up 30%. Maybe why e-mails and forum threads get so out of hand so quickly, as they are misinterpreted, as much of the meaning of the words are lost, as they are stripped of their "voice" and "body".) 

Alas I digress, friendships (the real ones) do come in many different forms, its just recognising the real ones to the fake ones that one gets better with wisdom. 

One person whom I thought was a friend for many years,  was mealy a chameleon, trying to mimic what they knew I would like in a true friend, but too often I found them out for their true self, (secrets, hiding the truth, and using people as mere objects, as a way to try and get ahead) and they are were mealy after me, to manipulate me into helping them all the time. But when I had had a medical crises , they were no where to be found, had every excuse under the sun not being able to help. I found many of their core values , were twisted, selfish, and had such a sense of entitlement  Which just goes back to the old thing, I cant trust anyone expect for the family under my own roof. How jaded of me I know, but some people are every clever at hiding their true motives!

Do I think I am perfect? far from it? I don't expect others to be either , but if we can all show the values above, and learn from our past mistakes , and acknowledge them, then we might have a closer connected world, rather than the current one which seems to be more disconnected than ever. The values of family are more important to me now then ever.  Sure I have disagreements with those I really love, but we have always come around to forgive each other, and respect each other for who we are, and what we stand for. That is after all what true emotional connections are about. 

I know we have to try and get one with most people in order to have some order in our lives, but success, for me,  is not dictated by money, possessions or status of your career.  I know some people pretend to be your friend in order for them to achieve what they think society wants in success (materialism), but they are not people I can really relate with. Nor at the same time do I think we need to all be Buddhists on a hill, mediating all day. There is a happy medium, after all if you crave nothing but the material things in life (keeping up with the Jones syndrome some call it), you will continuously be unhappy, as you strive for the unachievable , there will always be some one with more money than you, a better job than you, etc. The trick is to understand what you have now, and cherish that, that might be something as simple as your values, integrity, what you have done for others (no better gift than the one of giving).  That doesn't necessarily mean you gave money, it may be as simple as you gave some one your time, or your compassion or care etc. 

I try and not let the people that have "used" me over the years,  get to me, and just chalk it up to another experience , it also makes me reflect on what I have, and how lucky I am to be blessed with what I have, for I feel as rich as a king to have in emotional bonds with my wife and family. 

(* Notice I said wisdom, not age, as they two are not always linked. Usually as a person matures, they do gain wisdom, but not always. I am sure we have all met the very wise young person or older person, at the same time, met the old unwise person or young idiot. 
the old saying, quality not quantity seems to apply for so many things in life... this seems to be one that fits that mould as well... many "friends" some people may have, but very few real friends are had. )

Over the years I have heard many people say that have 100's of friends... but really the reality is, they do not have that many true friends in the sense of the word. The rest is just an illusion. It also maybe us more emotional types are more privy to what people what people want from other people in a friendship, maybe its material, or maybe is emotional or maybe a mix of both or something else. This does make me more venerable than most, and people who can read that, can trick us more emotional types. 

Since this conversation, my son has had a different view and seems to be more content with his life. 

Others might think I am little jaded with too many bad experiences, or others might see that I am seeking too much from friendships. I just know that getting to know a person, the real person, whom is genuine down to earth person, whom relates very closely to the core values I hold dear is the most rewarding thing you can have on this planet, and brings some meaning to our existence as humans. For me, life isn't about the collection of material possessions, or the acquisitions of wealth or power as symbols of success, it is how we value ourselves and others, and how we can all try and help make this world a better place. Its is the values of respect, charity, honour, honesty, passion, compassion, integrity, and love that are the important possessions of life. 

What do others think? My life experience is obviously different to many others, but I am sure there are few people that can relate to this story... thoughts??, comments ??

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