Does Friendship have an expiry date?

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Dina Kobeissi asks; What makes friendship stand the test of time? And why this romantic fantasy about relationships requiring us to dub them everlasting? Photo: Leon Rice-Whetton

Does friendship have an expiry date?

This is the question I have been asking all the people around me for the past week.

Having lost a friend or two along the way, I always think about the reasons for this breakup. Most of the people I asked, said that real friendship never expires. However, most of them agree that the ones that do expire, were not “friendships” to begin with.

If so, then the real question here is; “What defines a real friendship?”

Since I’m not a psychologist or life coach, I’m not going to go through the details of the definition of friendship, because as I found out, it is an opinion, rather than fact. And opinions can’t be right or wrong.

Different people request different criteria in friendships, some ask for loyalty and honesty. Others ask for respect and support. And many ask for friends to be there in times of need.

Going back to my original question, whether friendships expire or not, many of the answers I got had a common denominator and that is CHANGE! Change in location, views, social status, aspirations and perspective.

All of these reasons technically were right, yet to me, were insufficient. I believe change is a constant, and if I’m to take these answers into consideration, no friendship will stand the test of time — as human being are in a constant state of change. Yet we seem to find there are many cases that do succeed!

Another finding is that friendship is in the eye of the beholder, and according to gender. Men ask a different set of standards than do women. With women it is more emotional, more in-depth. A woman’s best friend should check more boxes than the list given by!

And that’s why you find that they tend to change more BFFs than certain movie stars change husbands. Women in general, have the constant need to nurture friends and friendships, to maintain and grow it till it is too big for them to care for, due to life’s other demands.

Men on the other hand, are more comfortable with friends that walk separate ways and meet at certain life intersections. They don’t have to constantly meet, nurture and feed this relationship. They let it BE!

All the answers I got only made me more curious and I started researching old history friendship, between politicians, historical figures, mythological Gods and warriors like Achilles and Patroclus, Romulus and Remus, and more recent like Oprah and Gail.

What do these people have in common?

The answer is nothing. Each has kept their end of the bargain for different reasons.

Relationship expiry, is not up to circumstances, change, or any other external pressure. It is up to the people involved and how much they’re able to compromise to keep it going.

I have found that the relationships that lasted are the ones where the people involved were able to adapt and compromise despite the changes that occur in each of them or their circumstances.

Just like any other relationship, compromise is king.

Now here’s the kicker, this compromise depends generally on a certain selfish notion a person has about the other person, to keep him as a friend.

This happened to me more than once. The relationships that I got and faded away were the ones that were based on a temporary selfish interest on my part or the friend’s part, that kept us together till the purpose was fulfilled. Now this may sound a bit sinister, but it does not have to be; the interest could be something like loneliness, support, nostalgia, and advice. The more sinister are stuff like financial support, exploitation, career advancement or worse, imitation.

After going through all these questions and answers a simple fact hit me.

Everything on earth expires, including human beings. So, why should we believe that relationships don’t? Why do we have this romantic fantasy about all relationships requiring us to dub them “everlasting” or “forever”?

I believe this, friends are merely witnesses to your life, and the changes that happens to you along the way. That’s why we keep seeking them!

Witnesses verify your life, your accomplishments, your achievements and your failures. They make a person count. As though we need a witness to let us know we lived. Friends are those people we subconsciously seek, to fulfill a desire or prevent a fear we have.

The question is, can you live with the idea of expiring friendship?

I wonder.

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