What are superficial friends
Why I also value my superficial friendships very much
Photographed by Ashley Armitage.
I have made an appointment with a friend for coffee and I am about to make my way to the meeting point. Suddenly my cell phone rings. It's Jane: “Sorry, I can't make it. Something happened to me. Can we see each other another time? "
In a rom-com, Jane would be a chaotic, bond-scared woman who sleeps with my husband behind my back - or has some other dark secret. In real life I Jane. I'm the one who canceled shortly before just short. And I know that's not bad at all, because my girlfriend has just as much on her mind as I do and doesn't blame me for it.
In our society there is this image of a perfect friendship in which you are always there for each other and leave everything behind for a coffee date. If, on the other hand, you cancel at short notice or cannot be reached 24/7, you will immediately be labeled as unreliable. As selfish. As a bad friend. But it's different with me and my girlfriend. We have an easy-care friendship and are both very satisfied with it.
In fact, I have a whole range of messy, adorable, busy, unreliable friends and that doesn't bother me. A friend once canceled the evening before a weekend trip. The rest of the group just shrugged and then we drove anyway and had a great time together. A friend and I threw our plans overboard four times this week alone. Another told me about her birthday dinner afterwards and then said: "I really would have loved to have had you there, but I know how busy you are and that's why I didn't even bother to invite you". Others would have been offended or sad if I had been me, but I knew it was best for them and for me that way. And then there was the friend who was me at Called his birthday and asked me if I would like to go to lunch with him on the spur of the moment. He just knows me very well.
Sarah is very different from the people in these examples (that's not her real name, she would kill me if she knew about this). I've only known her for a few years, but she's always been the type of person who always manages to get invited to all social events. Of course, she is also a welcome guest and I am always happy when she is there. But sometimes it also stresses me out extremely. she must everything control and plan down to the smallest detail. Not only does that annoy me on a regular basis, it also ensures that I'm not necessarily so keen on building a close friendship with her.
Sounds like I'm a really bad friend. But to be honest, I don't think so. Not really. The people closest to me would describe me as caring and considerate. You like to spend time with me. I (almost) never forget birthdays, I like to spend a round and am always on time - if I haven't canceled the appointment.
Psychologist Karen Kwong says these easy-going friendships, in which you don't have to invest that much, are usually very light-hearted. They give you fun instead of stress. They don't put you under pressure and require little planning and time. Thanks to them, you'll always have someone with whom you can just watch that new art exhibition or test a new restaurant. Thanks to them, you can spend time with another person without having to have in-depth conversations right away. Sounds superficial and callous, but sometimes it is exactly what we need.
In addition, with a person with whom you “only” have a casual friendship, you may also try other things and thus gain new impressions, says Kwong. “You can be the carefree, free person you want to be because the other person doesn't put you in a box. After all, he or she doesn't even know your emotional baggage. You can forget your problems for a moment ”.
In short: the so-called low-risk or low-stakes friendships demand little from you. With high-stakes friendships, on the other hand, the opposite is the case. So they often include arguments, discussions, tears and grief. I've heard stories of friendships that fell apart because of one of the two Not left everything behind and drove 300 kilometers to attend a baptism. Or because one person didn't write a card for Christmas for three years in a row (it could have been me). Who needs that kind of pressure in a friendship? Nonetheless, high-stake friendships naturally also have their advantages: "The nice thing about them is that you have a person in your life who can get through all the ups and downs with you," says Kwong.
Both Kwong and I find both types of friendship valuable. Both have their justification, it is only important that everyone involved knows what or with whom they are dealing. For example, if you are not doing well and want to cry, it would be better not to date the person you are having a superficial friendship with. It could be that she cancels at the last second and you are left alone with your problems. But if you feel like a casual evening in a bar and want to celebrate with a (larger) group of friends, you can invite exactly this person. In the best case he or she ensures a good mood, in the worst case he or she cancels - but you still have other people there to celebrate with.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying I don't have friends I wouldn't do anything for. But personally, I value all of my friendships - no matter how deep they are. In fact, one of the friends I love most is someone I haven't had contact with in weeks. But I know, if we'll see each other, it'll be fantastic.
Compared to romantic relationships, in friendships we don't talk about the nature of the relationship - including its boundaries, Kwong notes. “So we have to read between the lines and draw our own conclusions based on the behavior. If you have a bad feeling and think you might have different expectations of the friendship, you should definitely address it. "
Bottom line: When it comes to the nature of friendship, different people have different expectations. It is neither bad nor sad nor superficial if you will never share your deepest feelings and thoughts with some friends. They are still important for your life because they can show you another side of yourself and broaden your horizons.
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