What is the most depressing thing about maintaining friendships is when you realize that the other party never held your relationship to the same value that you’ve held it. Or that the friendship never had any substance except for the fact that it was two people shooting the shit.
The evidence of how your friend who you thought you were close with breaks down when you’re in a time of trouble. Or when you’re in a position of weakness and low status. The people who you’ve thought would help you, don’t, and let you down. Maybe they’ll look down upon you.
There is a custom in Korea where if your mother or father dies, your friend visits you in the funeral home, pays respect with a bow, and gives you some money to help offset the expensive cost of running a funeral.
My dad and I traveled for a funeral in Korea for my grandmother, and since we live in the States, the funeral shed light on who were my father’s closest friends. This is because my dad doesn’t live in Korea anymore(although he keeps in touch with his friends), and there’s hardly any chance for him to come back and go to the funeral of all his friends. That means that there is probably NO WAY for him to visit any of his friends’ parents funerals, and pay back the money he received.
My dad said he was disappointed that some friends whom he held in high regard never came to pay respects for his mother, because they know that it’s unlikely that they won’t be able to recover the money they give him. That it was an asymmetric relationship, where you’d go to lengths for your friend, but he wouldn’t do the same for you. Others drove 3-4 hours to pay respects to my grandmother.
But now he knows.
There was a situation for me as well when I was in a pretty rough spot, and I needed a place to stay for one night and be picked up from a train station. Only one friend came through for me. And I’m deeply thankful to him for that.
I feel that I’m encountering this situation once more, and this is causing me to re-evaluate my old relationships, and makes me want to think about what friendships really are. Are they of convenience? Are they of support and encouragement? Is it, some degree my fault? And how do you even become close friends in the first place?
To me, it doesn’t matter how many people I know - I’d rather have few close friends who are like hail that pounds on the sidewalks than a bunch of snowflakes that melt as soon as they touch the ground. But I don’t want to be hail for those who won’t be hail for me.