Suddenly, the "best friends forever" are not

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Pexels, Bruce Mars, free to use

Source: Pexels, Bruce Mars, free to use

One of the most painful experiences that any of us can have is when a wonderful friend suddenly disappears from our lives. It's a shock and it's very painful.

This situation is one that I have encountered frequently in my mediation and counseling practice. I found three different ways to answer and think about it. They are radically different and are:

ONE: ACCEPTANCE

Life is a Brownian motion of human beings, in which we are always in constant process, connected, disconnected, reconnected, involved in an infinite vortex of mutation and flow. The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said: "The only thing constant is change. You cannot trample the same river twice, and if you could, you would not be the same person."

Moreover, all our lives are full of mystery and mysteries. And sometimes events happen that dramatically reveal how mysterious our lives really are. The deaths, with their own hands, of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain are staggering examples.

Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain were both people who were wealthy, established, successful, world famous, attractive, charismatic, and both were loved and admired by fan circles.

Yet both have found their lives so painful that they have chosen to put them right.

Why?

It is an incomprehensible mystery.

So, to return to our original question, why is it that sometimes Best Fiends are not forever? The real answer might be that some things make no sense and cannot really be explained. We just have to accept them.

TWO: A PROACTIVE REPAIR STRATEGY

The number one strategy was acceptance, and strategy two is the exact opposite. Strategy Two is a step-by-step strategy to repair the rift. Here are the steps:

1. Communicate to the other person verbally or by telephone, if possible. Otherwise, send a postcard or a letter. This is the message to communicate (in your own words). "Before we were very close. But then something happened and now we are not."

2. "I'm not sure what happened. I'm not really! And whatever happened, it could have been my fault!"

3. "If what happened was my fault, I apologize!"

4. "I would like to start over and become friends again, because I really appreciate your friendship. Could we meet somewhere and have coffee and talk?"

This is a very simple four-step strategy. But all four passages are fundamental, and must be done in sequence, with nothing omitted: 1. Before we were friends and now we are not. 2. Something happened, and I don't know what it was. It could have been my fault. 3. If it was my fault, I apologize. 4. I appreciate you and would like to be a friend again.

Very simple and yes, it's hard to do. But it is very effective. Of the three different answers to a friendship breakup, this is the one I used (for clients) more often and more successfully.

THREE: UNDERSTANDING THE ROLE OF THE IDENTITY IN THE FRIENDSHIP

We all have a primary "identity", that irreducible personal substratum that in some fundamental sense defines "who we are". But we also have other secondary identities, which can arise organically from our primary identity, or in various ways, be in tension or in conflict with our primary identity. This is where it gets complicated.

We are constantly surrounded by other possible identities or ways to live our lives and think about ourselves. Some of these are imposed by external agencies (family, society, work). But others are ambitious: things we would like to do or new ways we would like to live.

We are often in flux on what the identity that really represents us is. Or which identity could best fulfill to whom we really want to be.

Enter friendship.

When a close, long-standing friendship suddenly stops, the break may have occurred because the other side is negotiating some kind of identity change.

Ironically, it could be that the other person is not refusing you. In fact, they could refuse themselves, what time you can represent, because you remind them of their old discarded identity!

There are many variations in human dynamics, which derive from the choice and rejection of secondary personal identities.

We are complex people, we humans!

David Evans

© 2019 David Evans

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