Evolution of Friendship

By: Shawn Davis

Friendship is defined as the state of being friends; the emotions of conduct of being friends and a relationship between friends.

Time changes everything; nothing is immune to that irrefutable law. Lately I find myself looking at relationships from the past and present (since I’m haven’t yet figured a way to see into the future but I’m trying). Taking into account those that have remained closely tied to me, those that have gone down another path, i.e., separate, those I don’t talk too often or at all. This may or may not touch on some past relationships, for purposes I still don’t understand.

A true friendship, in my opinion, should be able to last the test of time. Now maybe the contact isn’t as frequent, calendar years pass in between occasions where you are both in each other’s physical presence and you only talk when someone dies – or a baby is born – but you get the point. With that said the key to a friendship having legs is the ability of those parties involved…to evolve. Luckily I can say that my main circle of friends has remained largely unaltered for 15 years and we all have had to evolve in ways to make sure we can maintain our connection.

People move away, none further than I, get married and have children, get divorced, change careers, die, find religion, etc. A full life exposes you to everything it has to offer and if you walk this lovely planet long enough you’ll find yourself – and your friends – in a few or all of the situations above. Lately my focus has been on the people who I don’t speak with regularly and how I view my current friendship with them.

A friend that has twice become a mother, a teacher, wife and just the sweetest person I’ve come across has a full slate of responsibilities which has rendered our contact just about nonexistent but I’ve never looked at her in a judgmental light. I care for her (and her growing family) and the fact that she has built roots of her own makes me glad because it’s something she’s always wanted. Her dreams are coming true and while it’s strange that our contact is intermittent, I absolutely love that life is giving her the things she’s worked for. Anytime we do speak it automatically feels like we talked the day before, which is a cliché, but we really have that kind of comfort and familiarity with one another. Above all that, she is my younger sister.

Why does the current state of the friendship work for us? We both evolved with what was going on. I was mature enough to accept she was traveling her path – as I was mines – while also being keenly aware that it doesn’t have to be an “end” of what we built. Perspective can be powerful when used correctly; we have that.

My four best friends are the foundation of my circle, basically they are the circle. The cool thing about my relationship with them is that they are also close to one another because we all grew up together. Three are in New York and one is in Colorado but we still are present in each other’s lives. We didn’t come up with a pact to stay “connected” but I knew those would be the friendships that would survive anything – and they have been put to the test at various times. The reason I think they have is one simple ingredient: respect.

Not to sound cheesy but follow: between the five of us there have been fistfights, countless other times where there would have been physical altercations, arguments, conflicts over someone dating someone they shouldn’t have, times we clearly had to be on opposite sides of view (mainly because girls we were dating didn’t get along), had problems with someone on the outside of our group that crossed family lines, owed each other money, etc.

To counteract all the above we’ve saved each other’s lives (I wouldn’t be typing this or breathing if my best friend didn’t put his hands in my mouth to keep me from swallowing my tongue, on my 16th birthday no less, in the midst of a sports-related concussion), fought for and with each other against any and all threats, forgiven one another for bro code transgressions, been in each other’s weddings, been the wingman when our friend’s female had an unattractive friend (“taking one for the team”), helped one another move, opened up our cramped apartments to one another either rent-free or dirt-cheap, chased girls together, gone to each other’s graduations, child baptisms, had barbeques together, taken tests for each other (don’t get me started), crossed city lines to help each other move back to NYC, cut school for two days to watch Jerry Maguire, tell blatant lies to cover for one another with girls, etc.

You name it and the five of us have done it but we’ve always maintained a high level of respect and fairness to and for one another. We do not always agree but we always listen to one another, no, we hear one another out; actually listening is another subject altogether, ha.

Do all friendships have to evolve in order to last? I think it’s paramount. I’m not the exact same person I was at 16 but I’m also not that different. I did change, I did grow, I matured and evolved and so have my closest friends, my brothers.

We all made a group effort to bother each other until we are all dead, at least that’s what it seems like – and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We grew up together, evolved into slightly different people but the friendship found a way to evolve along with us.

Since I wasn’t raised in the most stable way, I view things differently from most of the people I encounter. When it comes time for a person to leave my life, I don’t lose much sleep when a person voluntarily takes themselves out of the equation. Sounds cold, I know, but I can be that way and it’s attributed to several factors. An ex that I place in the same circle with my boys doesn’t exist in my life for reasons that only she knows.

Dating hasn’t been anything we’ve discussed, at considerable length, in over five years and I’m not harboring any buried feelings or animosity so the lack of contact makes me wonder about her every now and then. I’m also not the best at keeping present but she’s the one to end contact whenever she sees fit so there’s always a weird tension that exists over that, I guess. We haven’t spoken in two years and I wonder how she views our relationship and how it’s evolved (or failed to). Maybe I should reach out but I don’t feel the need to, honestly. I just hope she’s ok.

I’ve seen friendships fall apart over the lack of contact and I’ve always viewed that as someone – or both parties – in that relationship being too needy. That’s never a good thing; it’s just not healthy for something that is expected to last for years. Being needy and seeking longevity doesn’t mesh, but I could be wrong.

We all possess an amazing amount of power in our friendships as it pertains to whether they are able to flourish with time or rot away. The amount in which we choose to exert directly effects whether that friendship is mentioned in the past or present tense. I think it’s fair to say that we have all been on either side.

In moments when I have quiet I think of every relationship I’ve ever had whether it be friendly, familial, romantic, parental or even one of mere acquaintance. They all matter (or mattered) in some way I suppose.

I think about the women that I’ve been in love with and the one’s that I didn’t feel that way about as well. The one I hurt that didn’t deserve such treatment – and the times that I’ve been treated unfairly in return. Sometimes you don’t evolve into the person you want to be until well after a relationship, of any kind, has been incomprehensibly damaged. Those are the relationships that stay with you, the ones that haunt you for being careless.

The friends you made in your teens – or even earlier in my case – can be the ones you have for a lifetime but a lot has to fall into place. Sometimes determination alone can ensure its survival but I think love, respect and the ability to evolve together can be the right recipe.

The ones that don’t last?

You know, it could be a lack of evolution or that could just be life.



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