“The greatest gift you can give someone is your time, so be very selective who you give it to.” – unknown
How many times have you run into an old friend or family member and you both agreed that it had been too long since you last connected? If you’re anything like me, it probably happens far too often. In the day an age of advanced technology, where text messaging substitutes some forms of human connection, it becomes truly difficult to establish the essence of relationship. Sure, the technology is convenient, easy and takes a little effort to send over a few lines to say, “hey”, but is that enough to meet our personal needs for what we define as a genuine relationship? I suppose the ultimate answer lies in the hands of the one(s) receiving the text or emails.
I have always been a believer of we make time for what and who is important to us. We see who we want to see, support the people we want support and do the things we want to do, no matter how busy we are. So if this is true, where does the aforementioned place those alleged other important folks in our lives? The answer, I would guess is not at the top of our priority list, to put it nicely. My question is why or why not?
Are we indeed simply too busy to etch out more time for others in our lives or has natural selection defined the course of who will be in my inner and outer circle? Perhaps it is a bit of both, but I think it’s a topic worthy of exploring regardless.
When I consider the ones closest to me I consider the following things:
How long have you been in my life as a consistent person (relative or not)? – Most of my closest friends I have known for a minimum of 20 years. (Remember I ‘m 47 years old) This is not to say that I don’t have close friends I have known for a shorter period of time, but this particular group is small and over the years we have managed to develop and maintain a friendship that I have come to call an important part of my life routine. We may not talk everyday, but over time we have been able to establish a relationship that has become an essential part of my life journey. I value his/her input on important matters and engage them with some personal aspects of what’s going on with me.
Have you proven to be trustworthy? – This is obviously a big one. When a friend breaks their trust with you it is very difficult, if not impossible to regain it. Of course we all make mistakes and fall short, but the cornerstone of any relationship is the ability to count on that person being who they say they are and keeping your personal business between you both. Any violation of that presents a challenge that inherently dilutes the connection you once had. I have been on the short end of this circumstance with a long-term friend and it has definitely changed our relationship. We are still friends, but certainly not like it was before.
Are we able to connect on more than a superficial level? – This inherently is easier for women to do. We men tend to have discussions that revolve around careers paths, sports and cars, at least with one another. This is safe and requires no intimate details on who I am or my personal struggles. Of course this does not apply to all men, just a lot of us, but when we’re finally able to get past those types of conversations, we allow ourselves to build real friendships with a select group of people who can say they really know us. Once we establish this type of bond, we know that we have someone who can relate to us and equally accepts us for who we are. What’s important here is we build a common bond based on something deeper than plain old surface talk, niceties and fake smiles.
Do we enjoy one another’s company? – So it’s imperative that I like you and vice-versa. If the first thing I do is hide when I see you in public, that’s not a good sign. I have certainly been in public places where I have run into people who I simply do not care for and was forced to engage them. Even for a short time it felt like forever. When first seeing a true friend it kind of feels like home. Comfortable and easy, with no pressure or expectations.
Do I respect the way you live your life? – Over the years our friends have given us intimate access to parts of their lives they do not necessarily share with others. Being privy is not always blissful, and we all have a line that we would rather not have crossed. When and if that line is crossed it can make things weird and uncomfortable, but when those issues aren’t resolved, going separate ways may be the best fix,at least temporarily. I choose to live by a scripture in the Bible that says, “Live at peace with all men, as much as it depends on you” – Romans 12:18. In other words, relationships require effort on both sides. When one side chooses to consistently fall short in a particular area that you have communicated as problematic, it may require a season of separation. During this time, the hope is a clear message can be conveyed on what is important and what you will tolerate and what you will not. If not, at least you will retain your peace of mind.
The truth is we should always be honest with ourselves about where certain individuals fall in our lives and why. As I have gotten older like so many others, we tend to stop caring about how people view us, and their opinions of us. Life is incredibly too short to spend time reflecting on things such as this. Bottom line, as harsh as it may sound, if I want you in my life, you are most likely in it in some capacity, as I am equally in yours or not. At this point, pretending and making lame excuses about why we seldom hang out is a waste of both of our times. Tell the truth in love, or be told the truth in love is always the best policy. We may not like what we hear, but at least we know what it is.
So the next time you run into that relative or old friend that says, “It’s been too long, we need to get together”, call them out by setting a date to do just that, or simply accept this is the moment you’re suppose to have with them and remain content with that.