I’ve never had trouble making friends; in fact, it’s something I’m rather good at. I’m a rather friendly person and my outgoing, and sometimes quirky, personality is usually pretty quick to break down the barriers others put up when it comes to meeting new people. In college, I would have at least one or two friends from each class – someone I could text when I had a question, someone I could vent with, and someone I could hit the bars with.
As the semester wound down and we’d finish up our final exams… poof. They’d disappear out of my life, and I out of theirs. Maybe we’d catch each other in passing on campus and say hi to each other, and half-heartedly catch up a little. Other than that, once every couple of months, we’ll send each other a Snapchat.
But what I really started noticing once I went to college was how many people we seem to be friends with solely because it’s convenient. When I think back to high school and all of the part time jobs I worked from then on until college, I think about all of the people I became good friends with – and how many of them I never saw or spoke to again after leaving those jobs.
The people I would beg to be put on my lunch break with while working part time at McDonald’s or at the waterpark; the people I exchanged a quick glance with when the professor said: “you’ll have a partner.” These are people that I would look forward to seeing every day, and people that I would be sad when they skipped class or called in sick. When it came closer to our time together ending, we made plans that were never fulfilled. “Let’s go to the bar sometime.” “I’ll text you next time I’m home for the weekend.”
I’m lucky if I get a text from them. We’ll see each other on Facebook and maybe toss each other a “like” or two, but that’s the extent of our interactions. It puts things into perspective and even scares me a little.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE WE FRIENDS WITH BECAUSE WE ACTUALLY WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH THEM AND HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE WE FRIENDS WITH JUST BECAUSE IT’S CONVENIENT?
It makes me reflect on the friendships I have now. How many of these people are only friends with me simply because they’re forced to see me every day? How many of these people would still want to make an effort to go out of their way to spend time with me when they’re not being paid to do it during the work day? How many would we still be friends with if we didn’t see them all of the time?
When you’re considering that some of the people you consider friends could actually just be experiencing a classic case of mere-exposure effect (a phenomenon that occurs when you spend a lot of time with someone in close proximity, and in turn, begin to like them, even if you didn’t before), it gets discouraging to want to put any effort in to those friendships when you know that there’s a strong possibility of them disappearing like the Bermuda Triangle as soon as one of you leaves that job or makes a life change that results in you no longer seeing each other every single day.
Going into new friendships, it’s essential that you remind yourself that there’s always going to be people who treat friendships as networking but don’t let it stop you from being yourself and putting yourself out there. Life happens and people drift apart, and sometimes that isn’t anyone’s fault.