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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Unfriend Friends

So there she was. An old colleague. Someone whom I had fought for, stood up for and worked to advantage. She had, through some wisdom I don't understand, decided to "unfriend" me on Facebook. I'd tried to reconnect via Facebook and e-mail, but to no avail. She would not respond.

Imagine my surprise when I show up at this huge conference in San Diego ... and there she is. Smiling as big as anything. She seemed engaged in conversation with someone, though I saw the look on her face change when she saw me. Not wanting to be rude, I walked on by without interrupting. A couple of times I checked back to see if she might be available (not engaged with someone else) --- thinking that I would approach her. But it wasn't meant to be.

Later on I'm meeting someone in the lobby of the hotel and see her across the way. She is engaged with someone ... whom I also know. And he wants to come and greet me. So she comes with him. He hugs and shakes my hand. So she does the same. When he's finished and leaves, I ask her, "Do I owe you an apology?" She insists that I don't.

I then question the silent treatment I've been getting from someone whom I admired and thought I was friends with. After all, we'd gone through a lot together in the workplace. She simply points out that those times together were over, so she saw no point in continuing the friendship.

And there it was ... the price of friendship. It seems that sometimes people are your friends because it's convenient. And when it's no longer convenient, they aren't your friends!

When my son was a toddler, he used to get mad at us. He would cop an attitude and say, "Mmmph! I am not going to be your friend any more!" We used to laugh at this, and still laugh about it today. Unfortunately, this mantra of a toddler appears to be the mantra of some of today's adults.

I confess that I am baffled by those who would use me as a friend and then dump me when it no longer serves their purposes. It would have been nice if I had known (when I thought we were friends) that I was serving their purpose! Typically friendships that have a hard stop on them are the ones that have borrowed money from me and don't wish to pay it back. That's when I find out there was a price on the friendship. (And of course I'm the one paying the price!)

I've blogged recently about the water-down definitions we have of terms like love or friend. But I believe this is different. There isn't a problem defining friendship here. Rather it's a problem valuing friendship.

It's been said that counting friendships at the end of your life is the best balance sheet you can have as you exit this world. I've believed it too. My friendships are precious to me. But it's always a bit of a nasty surprise to find that I value some of them more than they value me. Do those dynamics exist in all friendships?

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