I feel rather sorry for a friend of mine. Despite working in the finance sector it seems when it comes to social relationships he is unable to look at things as investments. I don’t feel all social contact should be treated this way, of course, but a frank look at which relationships are becoming blue chips and which are definitely junk bonds is rather crucial to a healthy mental state, I feel.
I grabbed a screenshot and sent it to an old friend who I’ve not had a conversation with since April. Within minutes I got a phone call with a huge laugh and a friendly word as if no time had passed at all. (The joke here is that the original commenter was relatively smart at school and is presumably referencing things like “I am disappoint” whereas the guy posting the correction was a meathead who we both strongly disliked and to see him being pedantic tickles us both.)
In my life I do my best to collect friends like that. Ones who I don’t have to spend every weekend with in order to keep the relationship alive. I not only cannot be bothered with that level of continuous social exertion, it’s also not who I am. Building something on that is just a bad idea, I feel.
As a result, if it’s the middle of the night and I need to talk to someone (and don’t want to wake my old lady) I have a slew of friends I can reach out to throughout the world who are usually up for a bit of a natter.
On the other hand I run into plenty of people who claim to want to be friends but require constant maintenance. Spending time with them makes me less happy and it’s a slow endurance trek watching them spin their wheels and make poor decisions. There’s a difference between being caught in a rut and having a broken axle.
Instead it would seem he treats all friendships as things of equal emotional weight in which promises must be made, obligations created, and the self sacrificed. I could understand that if someone was benefitting from his efforts but from what I’ve seen over the years the only people getting anything good out of the deal are the pub landlords.
It would also seem that through this system he watches as people pair off and his social circle shrinks because so many of his resources are devoted to these relationships that give very little back. Any notion of forming new connections outside of the circle are backed away from due to lack of time and will. Regular commitments must be honoured even though they only seem to serve as punctuation in his fairly unhappy emotional life. They cheer him up for the brief period he is there. To me that’s not enough – I want more out of a social life, and I get it.
I just wish I knew how to help my old friend towards that kind of happiness.