By Gokul KP
Over the past few years, I have witnessed my friendships undergo drastic changes, including those that reached their end. The phrase "had to" describes the situations perfectly here as each of these transformations occurred due to valid reasons, whether we acknowledged and accepted them or not.
During my teenage years, the friends I made were more or less without active efforts from my side. This is not me saying that I could make friends effortlessly. Most stemmed from circumstantial factors - connections formed due to shared spaces - school, the neighborhood, or regular interactions. But only later did I realize that it was not sustainable to maintain all these connections. And it gnawed at me. I started questioning my responsibility for not keeping in touch or not staying friends with someone. I felt it was a question of my morality, and my sense of community and compassion. Whenever I was reminded of an interaction I forgot to make, I was ruminating the ethical implications of letting go.
This dilemma eventually made me understand that the dynamics in friendships are more complicated than mere responsibility. Friendship means different things to different people, but ultimately it hinges on how much both sides are interested in sustaining the connection. And the absence of it on one side, or both, could be due to numerous reasons. I have slowly drifted away from people I know are undoubtedly considerate, caring, funny, and enjoyable companions. Yet, I cannot pinpoint why we grew apart.
"Whenever I was reminded of an interaction I forgot to make, I was ruminating the ethical implications of letting go."
In some cases, I have revisited past friendships to have open conversations and figure out why the strength of our bonds dwindled over time. While none of us could identify what caused it, it was clear that a lack of interest in each other's thoughts and ideas had naturally crept in. It was reminiscent of finding a friend you grew close to at a juncture in your life, only to make new connections with others as time progressed. Life moved on, and past relationships just floated in the wake of life’s currents.
But the death of these friendships may have nothing to do with either party’s objective qualities. I still love and care for people I considered friends years ago, despite recognizing that our mutual feelings will never align like they once did. I had to forego some of these friendships not because they underwent undesirable changes but because having them in my life would have hindered my ambitions. Ultimately, I believe it comes down to the evolution of each individual over time, as well as what path they choose to follow.
When this happens, the frequency of conversations dies down, and meetings become rare. Politeness gradually replaces authenticity, and neither party wants to be the one who ends the friendship definitively. The only viable solution is to let the connection wither away so that nobody has to bear the immediate pain. Deciding whether a sense of closure is necessary becomes a question postponed for the future.
I have often clung onto some friendships due to a few heartwarming memories, hoping the same vibe will continue. However, while these cherished moments were enough to lay the foundation of the friendship, they were not sufficient to sustain it through all the changes that life took us through. It is also crucial to acknowledge that all these people who once were so significant, still matter. But expecting to suddenly revive a struggling relationship overnight, especially when few common threads remain, can be unfair to everyone involved.
"It is also crucial to acknowledge that all these people who once were so significant, still matter. But expecting to suddenly revive a struggling relationship overnight, especially when few common threads remain, can be unfair to everyone involved."
Life would always involve moving from phase to phase, subject to your journey and what you want to get out of your time on Earth. And the friendships in life may inadvertently reflect these shifts. The sooner one embraces this reality, the easier it will be to manage all of the complex emotions that accompany the process.
I have realized that the act of letting go is never going to be a simple task. It is a learning curve that navigates a spectrum of experiences, helping you understand different nuances and intricacies of human behavior. I can sense that I have grown over these few years by learning to accept these changes - unwanted or not - and have become better equipped to deal with many interpersonal relationships.
About the Writer
Gokul KP is a Queer writer and aspiring journalist from Kerala, India. He holds an engineering degree and works as a Business Manager in Bangalore, India. His work, which spans fiction and non-fiction, has appeared on multiple websites and online publications and has covered topics related to mental health, politics, mainstream media, pop culture, and gender & sexuality.
He also tries to use the platforms available to him, including his Instagram account (@kpgokul), to spread awareness about climate change, LGBTQIA+ rights, feminism, etc. He is an ardent 'horror' fan and considers Stephen King a source of inspiration.