Compliments of Julian Sum via Flickr

Compliments of Julian Sum via Flickr

Friendships come in a variety of forms – people we see a few times a year, some that we simply text, and others we connect with once in a blue moon. Because our culture is premised on “positive politeness” we may appear to others as “friendly” – but it takes a solid bit of maneuvering, scouting each parties’ intentions over a long period of time to produce stable linkage. And even then, the attachment we’ve so carefully forged can unravel and simply fall apart, sometimes through no fault of our own – prompted by personal issues, or growth spurts on the part of someone else.

A more positive tack (as opposed to assuaging your ego) is to express gratitude to the respective person for their contribution to your life; to feel happiness that your souls touched, even for a brief time period. E.g., “It was an honor to have you in my life; I’m grateful for the years I’ve known you. If your feelings change, the door is open.” Then pivot to focus on persons who are still part of your inner circle – lest you risk alienating them as well. I love the poem “Reason, Season, Lifetime” by Anonymous, which explains that some individuals are introduced (in our lives) so that we can learn otherwise inaccessible lessons; if it’s someone for a “lifetime,” this could be a relative, or in the workplace perhaps a boss (or even a cantankerous coworker!).

Overtures that go unnoticed are hints we need to accept. Unreturned phone calls signal that the object of our desire wants space.

Mourning is a common knee jerk reaction – what did I do wrong? clawing for the unrequited even as they attempt to retreat. The ignorant may become obsessive – showing up at your home (or for the grossly unenlightened, those of your relations) seeming to misunderstand the word “no.” Instead of staying outside, they bust through the electronic parking arm of your life – taking a cue from Madea in Diary of a Mad Black Woman – speeding full force, obliterating your personal barriers in the process. Because drivebys and after hours phone calls are their preferred mode of harassment (accompanied by smack talk directed about you at work), employee onlookers rarely glimpse what goes on behind the scenes – and to the targets’ chagrin, may join headlong in the hate fest.

If you sense a compatriot severing ties, respect their wishes – and focus elsewhere on being the best friend possible to someone else, a selfless giver who brightens someone’s day (for example, with kind words, beautiful cards, or possibly a text message and picture attached), letting them know you are thinking of them with compassion. Emphasis on giving, and how you can enhance a life circumstance elevates your friendship capital – currency that can move you from mere acquaintance toward companion status.

Careful reading of the tea leaves, altruistic thoughts sent into the cosmos, combined with the fun and enjoyment of seeing what takes root provide unexpected returns.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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