Okay, so, people on this site either love me, or hate me. There are very few people indifferent to my overall existence, at least as far as I can tell. I know for a FACT this article is going to upset people and either further support the idea I am a bad person, or potentially change people’s minds about me being a decent person. I don’t care much either way, because, as you know, I value honesty above all else, and I think most people have had what I call “temporary friendships” for beneficial reasons.
What is a temporary friendship? Well, simply put, it’s a friendship of convenience which ends the second the convenience element does. Many of us have had unknowing temporary friendships we never would have partaken in if the set circumstance wasn’t what it was.
An easy example to look upon is a friend you make in a class where you have no other good friends, or no friends good at the particular subject. Let’s just say the subject matter here is Spanish. You’re not good it at all yet, but you meet someone who is already knowledgeable on the subject. They aren’t a bad person, and they seem interested in having a friendship with you. You need help with Spanish, and the person is decent enough, so you two become casual friends. You study together, this person helps you improve your Spanish, and you offer them kinship in return in the form of advice, outings, conversation, etc. Both parties are benefiting from the relationship, but there are key elements it is lacking in comparison to a long-lasting friendship.
1) Chances are, you are “school” or “work” friends. You don’t interact much outside of the subject area where your relationship was based upon, removing the deeply personal element which comes with long lasting relationships.
2) You have separate friendships and relationships which this person has no connection to. Often, this person is completely separated from all other aspects of your life except the small space you have allotted for them, which is almost always limited to the circumstance in which your friendship began.
3) If the subject which started your friendship ceased to exist, so would the friendship.
Let us expand more on the last point. Let’s say you finish the hypothetical Spanish class with good-to-high grades and can now comfortably speak the language. Suddenly, you find you and this temporary friend of yours hang out less and less, and, admittedly, it doesn’t bother you much. When you start thinking about it, you realize this temporary friend certainly wasn’t a bad person, but maybe they weren’t as much of your cup of tea as you originally thought. You realized they had annoying quirks, or perhaps were too clingy, or overall just had a personality that clashed with yours any time you spoke about subjects other than Spanish or daily conversation. You drift apart, slowly but surely falling out of each other’s minds, until you are simply no longer friends.
Of course, this sounds absolutely cruel, right? Temporary relationships of convenience are unfair, you essentially just used the fluent Spanish speaker, poor them! But, did you strictly “use” them? And, could you even call it “using them?” I don’t personally think so.
Using someone, to me, is often forceful and unavoidable, like a financially abusive relationship between an elderly mother and her drug-addicted son. Someone agreeing to help you in return for your friendship is not comparable, as both parties are knowingly exchanging mutual benefit. No friendship has the guarantee of longevity, and often people partaking in temporary friendships have any idea the friendship may not last.
The Spanish speaker didn’t leave the scenario without fruit; they had a friend. Yes, they helped this friend with Spanish, but this friend also gave something to them. Perhaps it was needed companionship in a class where they too had no common friends, or someone who could help them in an unfamiliar subject in return. Maybe, it was simply just great to have someone with a car who could help them get to work.
All relationships are equal parts give and take, unless you’re the son of a bitch.
It’s possible this person knew the friendship would be temporary and simply didn’t want to spend their time in class alone. But, the sad reality is they may have expected things to go further, this is why this concept is often labeled as so cruel. It’s easy to say you’re just using people and throwing them away, but as I’ve explained, no mutual friendship with equal give and take can really be labeled as one being using the other.
The only way you can really cross into this territory is if you manipulate an individual into only benefiting yourself while they suffer greater loss than gain. Say, you guilt them into giving you the answers to a test you didn’t study for with harsh language and threats, negatively impacting their self esteem. Casual relationships based on convenience rarely, if ever, cross over into this territory … again, unless you’re the son of a bitch.
This doesn’t mean all temporary friendships have good or bad endings, most of them don’t have much of a conclusive ending at all. You are simply friends one day, and the next day, you only text a few times a week before falling off the radar. It isn’t all blood, guts, loss, and pain the same way it isn’t all happiness, rainbows and growing old together. There’s an old saying, I disregarded it due to its religious connotation, but it has some truth to it. Forgive me, I’m paraphrasing it:
“God doesn’t always send you the people you want, but the people you need. People who teach you about love, loss, pain, to trust and to not, every person you meet has a lesson to give you.”
I’m not a believer in fate, but poetic coincidence, and I do believe people sometimes come into our lives in a moment when we need them. It doesn’t mean you should actively seek people out for the sake of learning things from them, but accept sometimes it isn’t always wrong to have these types of friendships as long as you both get something out of it. It’s okay to accept not all friendships will last forever, as most, if not all of our friendships are build based on the concept of convenience.
Most of us are friends with kids from our grades, neighborhoods, or friends with the friends of a mutual friend, etc. Friendships, especially of the school or work variety, almost always end the moment that chapter in your life does. Not all of them, but a good chunk of them, generally.
Now, before I end this, I know someone is going to ask:
“Jane, if you’re so honest, why not tell a person they are a temporary friend upfront?”
Well, it doesn’t really work out, is why. I believe in honesty, but I also believe in being tactful. Honesty has to have a purpose, a benefit, a lesson to be learned. This is one of those few situations where I see honesty playing no positive roll for anyone. The person in question gets hurt, and the person admitting this does too. No one wins. As well, most people don’t realize they’re in a temporary friendship with someone. I didn’t during my college years until it was much later.
Yes, I had temporary friendships with two people in college. We all were good at our respective subjects and we were all decent people, so we all worked together and helped each other. However, when you took away school, we couldn’t get along completely. I always fought with one who was over-emotional, who in turn found me to be insensitive, while the other was extremely aloof and indifferent. It was no surprise to any of us we were no longer friends after graduation.
Why am I writing this? Well, because it’s back-to-school season, and I know many kids and young adults will be off to their respective schools and will likely be faced with these types of relationships.
My hope is by putting this idea out there, I abolish this very fairy tale idea of being friends forever with everyone. I think we set ourselves and others up far too much by placing unrealistic standards on reality without acknowledging the truth of the matter, which is people change. We outgrow each other. We no longer need one another, and it isn’t a bad or evil thing. If you expect every relationship to be permanent and wonderful you and many others are going to end up hurt or disappointed – maybe even labeled as a bad person.
I am here to tell you no one is less than, cruel, wrong, or anything in between strictly because friendships end. Of course, how they end may play a part in who you are as a person, but this is more of your actions against each other rather than the fact that your friendship didn’t last. What it comes down to is your choices in life, not the number of friendships you keep.
This is all I had to say, sorry it wasn’t as vulgar as my work usually is. If I don’t like or comment back to you, I apologize, I’m quite busy with work. I wrote most of this over the weekend and just found time to complete it. I hope you enjoyed it.
~ Love Jane.