Ellen Mimi Owusu writes: How is your friend doing?

By Ellen Mimi Owusu
your friend

“It is sad when somebody you used to be so close to, becomes a stranger”
I saw this post on someone’s Facebook wall a while ago; I read it over and over again because I could relate so much to it.

A recent research by Dutch sociologist Gerald Mollenhorst at Utrecht University confirms that the large majority of friendships tend to be fleeting. He found that both the friends we make and the ones we keep are more likely to be determined by opportunities rather than personal preferences.

He further reckons many relationships fall apart because people no longer have the opportunity to be together in the same context, e.g. a school, an office or a neighbourhood, church etc.
I do agree to some extent with this research findings, however can true friendship not exist despite distance? It is said “love knows not distance”, can the same be said of friendship? Does a friendship have a shelf life?

When I was seven years, I had a friend, she was my best friend, when we go to church we will sit together, play together etc. We did everything together, we were like two peas in a pod. Our friendship changed when she went off to boarding school. When she came back, it was like we were strangers. We did not fall out or anything. But we were not close anymore.

A few years later we began talking again, but relationship was not as it used to be.
Could we both have done more to make that friendship work? Perhaps at that age we both did not know the true value of friendship. As I got older I made very good friends from Junior High, through Senior High and tertiary level, and even in my adult life, I keep making friends.

Whenever I make a new friend I make a conscious effort to do my honest part to make that relationship grow. I do put a lot of effort into my friendships and do make it a priority to keep in touch with my friends. I recall, I set up a Facebook account for a friend (she was not into social media at that time) so that we could keep in touch often.

Not only keeping in touch but being always there for each other and providing a listening ear, and offering any kind of support when the need arises. I must admit over the years I have had some great friends who done some amazing things for me. The list is endless; very good friend helped me secure my first job in the UK, another friend cooked for me and looked after me for 6 months because I was pregnant whiles my husband was away in Afghanistan. Another good friend of mine had my children for free for weeks to help me with childcare.

Friendship means so much to me and I do value and cherish it.
Sadly, I have noticed that the effort I put in some of these friendships, I do not get the same response back. One of the one basic thing to keep friendship alive is to keep in touch. That is not to say calling each other every day but finding the time to keep in touch occasionally or regularly and having that quality conversation, so you know what is going on in each other lives.

Thanks to technology and social media communication has become easier and accessible. Keeping in touch should not be the responsibility of just one person, but both parties. When it tends out to be the same person keeping in touch it will not help the friendship grow.

Personally, I find myself in this situation where I am most of the time the one keeping in touch with some of my friends both in Ghana and in the UK and theses friendships have become a way one-way street. If I do not call or text I will not hear from some these friends. I have had comments from friends say how good I am at always keeping in touch! Some say I have a talent for keeping in touch, even though these are good compliments, sometimes I do ask myself, are they too busy to call me? Or has the friendship “expired”? Or maybe they do not deem me as that friend they used to have, or perhaps am not on the same social status with them now.

Sometimes I conclude that maybe the friendship might not be important to these people as is it to me. I know circumstances change, people get busy, life becomes challenging, people make new friends etc. However, I do believe we need to make time for the people we care about. It is said, “nobody is ever too busy is a matter of priority”. I do strongly believe in that statement, if something is important you will find a way to do it, if is not important you will find an excuse.

The poet, Khali Gibran once said friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity so I will keep on being the good friend am I, but I do not know how long I can keep on doing that. 

Do you have a friend you do not keep in touch with? Remember, if friendship is meaningful, it needs to be nurtured. And it must be nurtured by both parties. I think if I have learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you.

Do not walk away, do not get distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, and do not take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Be a good friend today.