Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ask the Faithful Readers #8: Like Riding a Bike

Dear Faithful Reader,

Riding a bicycle seems to be one of those skills you never forget. You can let the two-wheeler rust in the basement for years and yet when you hop on again it feels like you were never apart.

Some relationships are like that. I bet most of us have been apart from an old friend or a family member for an extended period of time, and then when you get together again you pick up right where you left off without missing a beat.

And this is a joyous, wondrous thing -- to instantly re-connect, to talk excitedly and laugh and hug and just know in your soul this is one of those amazing relationships that will never go away.

Other times we bump into a person we haven't seen in a while and the encounter is awkward. This may even be someone with whom we used to be good friends, but it's like trying to make small talk with a complete stranger.

Do you have an old friend with whom you instantly re-connect? Have you ever been surprised when you thought a particular relationship would survive a period of separation but it didn't? What do you think gives some relationships such seemingly infinite staying power, while others wither like neglected vines?

I will post my personal favorite comment next Saturday with a link to the respondent's blog.

Signed, The Inquiring Advice Guy


  1. I have a cousin who has lived at least a thousand miles away from me for our entire lives. I'm in the midwest and she moved from California to North Carolina ten years ago. We talk on the phone once a year or so and it is amazing how similar our lives are - the way we talk to our children, the things we do in our free time, our emotional issues. When we do talk it feels like the last time we spoke couldn't have been more than 24 hours ago... I feel like she lives next door.
    It is incredibly reassuring to know that I can pick up the phone and there is someone who has known me as long as I have been alive, knows my entire history (and loves me anyway) who understands me.

  2. My best friend lives over a thousand miles away and, while we email regularly, I haven't seen her in person since college graduation, six years ago. She recently was in my state on business, so I drove four hours to meet her at the airport and we hung out for the weekend. It was like we saw each other all the time.

    We've been friends for over twenty years and I guess it's just one of those friendships that sticks. We don't have a lot of "specifics" in common--different interests, different natural abilities, she's much more outgoing than I am, etc.--but we both know we can absolutely trust the other and tell her anything, even if it's not pretty (we generally don't disagree but have survived one or two nasty spats without lasting damage to the friendship; amazing considering we both tend to be sensitive, slightly insecure, and very stubborn).

  3. Funny, I just finished writing a post about friendships literally a minute or two ago. Only that post is more about lost friendships than the better, lasting kind. Still, it might answer your question in in some ways, in fact I think it does. Take a look at it at:

    but let me warn you it's quite long.

    Close friends are ones who are loyal, considerate, caring, good listeners, who can empathize, who celebrate your joys and mourn your sorrows. Who offer and give help without hesitation and who ask and accept help as well.

    Those who want the best for you in their hearts, that is the definition of real friends to me, and the requirement for a lasting relationship.

  4. I have a handful of friends like this. two I grew up and are like or ARE family. When we see each other we get along and relive stories and can talk about current things very easily. Two other friends are the ones I made right after college. My first job was as a children's rehab specialist. What is this? I had to pick up kids for a rural mental health facity from school for their after school group and drive them home. She and I would be together driving them to the park while they called us names. We would look at each other and say "is this what we worked so hard in college for?" The other friend was my surrogate sister when i moved away from home. We worked together and she was married but i was her single girl friend who would come over and eat dinner with them. She was my maid of honor and I love her dearly. My DH always wonders how we stay so close cause we never talk to each other since I moved away. But it's always like old times. One main reason all these friendships work is that we don't hold grudges about who talks to who last or who never calls. We all have lives and we can't be together all the time.

  5. In the last 2 years, I've actually had 3 old friends come back into my life. Two of them were my 2 best girlfriends from high school. One I lost touch with our last year of high school because of a falling out we had between the two of us. About a year and half ago, I got an e-mail from her saying she was sorry for what happened between us back then, and that she wanted to be friends again. After receiving the e-mail, I immediately wrote her back, and told her the same. I was sooo happy to hear from her again after almost 8 years. I had never forgotten her and all that we shared, and I missed her so. We talked through e-mails for about 2 months, and finally met each other face to face. At first I was nervous, but as soon as I saw her, it was like we had never been apart. Everything came back and we are now the BEST of friends again. She is everything to me. We share such a strong bond, and I'm never going to lose her again.
    The second friend, I lost touch with after I got married. I didn't mean for it to happen. We didn't have a falling out or anything of the sort. I moved away, and our communication just kind of stopped after a while. I guess we were both moving on with different aspects of our lives. But I always knew we would find each other again. It was another one of those special bonds and we "got" each other. Around the same time my first friend sent me that e-mail, this friend sent me one too. Gotta love the internet. :-) Come to find out, she had moved to the city where I was living and was only about 10 minutes away. We met one night for coffee, and it was like we had never lost touch. It's amazing that that can happen after being away from each other for so many years. She is now one of my bst friends again, and I'm so grateful to have her back.
    The third friend was actually an ex boyfriend...but we were friends before we started dating back in high school. He was such a great guy, but there were circumstances back then that caused our relationship to end. He lived too far away, and we were so young, but I always felt this deep love for him as a person, and he's always been in my heart. My second friend gave me his e-mail address and I wrote him a letter just to see how he was. He wrote back almost instantly and we caught up on each other's lives. It made me feel at peace to know he was doing well. A few months later, my life caved in around me. I found out that my husband of 5 years and the father of my 2 daughters, had been cheating on me for over a year. All 3 of these friends were there for me. They are the reason I survived through all the heartache. They all came back into my life at that time for a reason, and I don't know what I would have done without them. The last friend and I have now re-kindled our dating relationship and it feels like he is the man I was always meant to be with. It feels so natural. There are just some people that are meant to be in our lives, for a lifetime.
    Friendship amazes me. Friends are these random people that you meet in your life, and they have absolutely no obligation to you, yet they stick by you through the hardest times in your life. They end up being your rock. I am so grateful for having all of them back, and for feeling like we've never been apart all those years. I am so blessed.

  6. There are a handful of my close friends who I will be out of touch for months, even years on end...and when we meet again it is like we were never apart.

    I have also had the opposite happen. I have a friend who I was VERY close to in high school and when we re-connected it was stilted and uncomfortable. Our lives had gone in such opposite directions we couldn't find a way to rekindle the friendship. We were civil but the friendship was very surface-level. I never would have believed that could happen had I not encountered it.

    I think it dependson the people and the depth of the friendship before the separation. I think it also depends on the journey itself. There are some paths that God intends to cross again and others the intersection was only for a moment.

  7. I just received a nice email from Kamrin to let me know she just wrote a post on this very topic over at Kamrin's Karma. Feel free to pop over and see if you don't agree that her post is another wonderful example. Thanks Kamrin!

  8. I have friends I don’t see that often, years go by in fact but when we hook up it’s like I saw them just the day before and we go on from there until we part again.

    Then there are the people that make me feel awkward when I see them are the ones where we had a falling out and no matter what length of time goes by that won’t change.

    Sometimes the friendship doesn’t change but the circumstances do.
    I have a good female friend who I always had fun with, nothing personal ever happened but when she hooked up with a guy she was cautious because of him and what he would say.

    I guess it all comes down to how the relationship was when you last saw each other and under what circumstances you are now meeting under that determines how you will feel today.

  9. I'm posting the same things that were written above. My only uncomfortable re-hook-ups with girlfriends was when they were a overbearing person.

    One girlfriend was told by her husband to check on the kids every fifteen minutes. (while I was visiting her) Of course this is how long it took us to warm up our conversation. She quietly checked on the kids. Her husband never asked if they were ok. I was the one to ask each time. And she replied the kids were sleeping each time. Long story short. This husband seized custody of the kids when they divorced, and took them out of state. My girlfriend didn't see her kids again until they were 18.

    Another girlfriend I called to see how she was doing. I always called about every three months to stay in touch. Her new boyfriend answered the phone. He politely said hold on a moment. She got on the phone and was explosive. Turned out I woke her up from her sleep. I tried to explain that he never indicated she was sleeping or I would have called back another time. She didn't give me this chance. She turned all her anger at him onto me. I never heard from her again and I never called her again.

    I have found my friends for life are the one's that take everything in consideration. If they misunderstood something, they will say so.

    I guess it's all about growing older. Some of us will get it, others will never.

  10. For me, re-connecting with an old friend and doing it well completely has to do with whether or not she and I are in the same place in life. I think when there has been a disconnect in a friendship, what brings it back together is a commonality. If you don't have that commonality, then you don't have anything to spark conversation, so that you can re-discover what it was about that person that you loved so much.