People are not expendable. We should absolutely cherish each other at every turn. However we should also recognise that every friendship is born out of purpose, a mutual need and dare I say it… convenience? There is no question that I love each of my friends wholeheartedly and I show them every chance I get. However I also have the integrity to admit that each friend I have has their own special place in my life, just as I do in theirs and it is convenient that way. Many of us fit neatly into the wrongly maligned category: ‘friends of convenience’. And I don’t believe that’s such a bad thing. As we walk life’s incredibly unpredictable path, it is wonderful to weave in and out of the lives of like-minded people. Some stay, some go and when we are really lucky, some relationships rise above the convenience to become our soul mates.
We live in a world of convenience. Quick. Give it to me now. I need it this minute. Easy peasy. Fast food; disposable nappies, single use cleaning wipes, pre-cut vegies. And yes… People. We all have and fill the role of ‘friends of convenience’. They fill a little chasm in our life – make it better, fuller, easier, happier. Even as the words come tumbling out of my fingers onto my virtual page I feel a wave of guilt wash over me for sharing this truth. But why? None of these conveniences of are a bad thing. Especially the friends. If our lives are that little bit happier because of any one thing and no one is getting hurt along the way… then I see no real issue. So where does this guilt come from?
We all befriend one another for a reason. There I have said it. But that is ok. As long as it is mutual and reciprocal. Someone to talk to; someone let off steam with; someone to sip tea with; someone to bitch about a mutual acquaintance with; someone to cook with; someone to share playdates with; someone to exercise with; someone to travel with; someone who has a nice house to sit in; someone who’s cooking you enjoy; someone to learn from; someone to share a phase of your life with…. There are many reasons two people become ‘friends of convenience’. It is actually very rare to connect with someone on a deep cerebral level and become lifelong soul mates. So along the way, we form passing bonds – friends that come and go with our mutual needs. Perhaps knowing that these friendships are based on convenience or need is where that pang of guilt comes in. But it shouldn’t. Because it’s perfectly natural and should be encouraged. The soul thrives on human connection.
Reaching out to create new friendships is an important part of personal development. We are constantly in a state of change, experiencing new things, going new places and we require people to share this with – to laugh with, learn from and if we are lucky we can even cry with each other too. Making space to both give and receive ensures that these friendships are reciprocal. Everyone is being nurtured as they need to be. We receive togetherness and expel aloneness. While at first the term ‘friends of convenience’ may seem harsh or cruel, perhaps after further explanation you can see that it encapsulates all the people that come in and out of our lives as we need each other at the time. A very positive thing.
Like all friendships, there is the potential for a ‘friendship of convenience’ to turn sour. The most simple is a non-reciprocated friendship. Like any other relationship, if one party is giving and not receiving, over time it is bound to fail. Because this type of relationship is based on mutual need, balance is key. The other way for the sour to seep in is when the relationship becomes inconvenient. This is an incredibly hard thing to admit until you are already at the point of either feeling unappreciated or feel like you have evolved to a new phase in your life. In either scenario, the relationship is no longer serving the purpose of fulfilling both friends and by this point there are likely to be feelings of hurt, probably not making it convenient at all. The question here becomes whether to rebalance to find that convenience again or not.
Friendship is fluid. Understanding that we all evolve at different times and in different directions, is fundamental to understanding each other’s needs and our place in each other’s lives. Not all friendships will always be convenient. Sometimes we learn to readjust our input and output. Sometimes we do learn to let go. As you ride the waves, do it with grace. Do it with compassion. Do it with lots of tea. And sometimes some sushi too. What is most special is when even after the convenience fades, we hold on tight because that person has become so much more. For soul mates convenience is irrelevant.