Saturday, September 29, 2012

B48. All Friends Are Best

(Dedicated especially to my many students who are finding their way through heartaches and disappointments)

Relationships almost always disappoint us, not because the other person isn’t perfect, but because perfect is what we expect them to be.  Hollywood teaches us from Disney movies on, that once we find that perfect mate or that perfect best friend, our lives will be complete and we will live happily ever after.

Each of us is complex with many facets, and have you noticed that different people bring out different parts of us?  No one friend or mate can possibly be all the relationship we need.  Yes, there will be those who will have most in common with us and whose presence we most cherish, but if we want completeness we need to change one important structure in our thinking.

Rather than seeking someone who can give me all I need, what if I began to look at every relationship, large and small, in terms of getting to know that person, not myself?  Seeking the uniqueness and the gifts she brings to the world, despite how different or the same they are to my own.  And what if, instead of expecting one person to meet all our complexity, we allowed multiple friends to touch and shape the many aspects of our lives?

What if we began to think in terms of multiple meaningful relationships, all unique and unmatchable by any other 2 people, and not rate them on a continuum of best friend to worst friend, or as everything I need vs. not everything I need?  What if, should we ever be so lucky, we had three “best” friends and didn’t feel a need to compare or rank them?  What if every friendship were valued for what it is, without being held to our fairy tale expectations?

Much more promising, much more fulfilling, and much happier for us and all those around us, as we appreciate who they are and no longer feel disappointed for who they aren’t.

A running partner might not understand our work issues, a colleague might not share our religious views, a physically challenged friend might not be able to zumba with us; but almost everyone we meet has something special to bring to a friendship, some shared interest, some valuable insight and perspective, perhaps something totally opposite of ourselves, and every friendship invites us to bloom in new and unpredictable ways.

Work friends, church friends, Facebook friends, exercise friends, once a year friends, and yes, those whom we call our best friends.  Together they make us rich.  They make us complete.  And if we focus on what’s special in them more than what’s special in us, we just might find our "happily ever after."

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