New friends are silver but old ones are gold… Or not

Emerson King | Fulcrum Staff

WITH FREQUENT MOVING comes friends left behind. This is inevitable, and anyone attending university in a different city than their hometown can attest to the difficulties of being separated from old friends and making new ones. The end of the school year is fast approaching, and many students will soon be saying goodbye to some people and hello again to others. It’s a hard time for everyone, no doubt.

What makes it even harder is when long-distance friends prove unable to deal with the distance. I had a friend who I went to school with back in B.C. We were together 24/7; we shared a wall, class notes, and Delissio pizzas. When I moved to Ottawa, she couldn’t handle the fact that I was making new friends. Instead of being happy for me, she became jealous and controlling; she Facebook stalked me and commented snarkily on all my photos with other people—people who later asked me “Who is that?”

“She isn’t that bad,” I wanted to say, but as time passed I wasn’t so sure. My best friend was turning into somebody I didn’t even know anymore—distance was bringing out the worst in her.

What made me the most confused about all this was that I had no intention of replacing her as my best friend; we still talked on the phone and video Skyped so I could show her my new digs. But when I would miss a call she would accuse me of neglecting her, and I soon became sick of it. Have you ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy? This was fast becoming one.

I realized that I had overestimated my friend’s confidence. While I had no problems with her hanging out with other people and making new friends, the opposite was clearly not true. The result was that I stopped telling her things, became vague when describing my plans, and put up a wall to shield myself from the negative energy. When I would talk about one coworker I hung around with a lot, my friend would get all quiet. In a rare honest moment, she later told me that she hated this person (whom she had never met) simply because she got to see me every day. That made me sad, but I didn’t know who I was the most sad for.

A couple of years later, and we seem to be okay, but we don’t talk like we used to. When something happens in my life, my old friend is not the first person I want to tell, and I think she knows it. I wish she realized I never wanted to push her away, and that her jealousy and controlling behaviour did nothing more than exactly that to me.

Do I regret things? Yes. I regret not being more sensitive to my friend’s needs—not realizing that her insecurity was wearing a bitter and angry mask. At the time I might have gotten a little too swept up in my new life, I think. It is a risk that everyone leaving one place for another has to take. Keep that in mind as you pack your bags this April. Friendships are like many of the best things in life: they require effort.