I think that I’m a good friend.
I’m also hyperaware that I talk a lot, and I think a lot, and for some people — that can be, well, a lot.
But with my friend — let’s call her Vanessa — I thought we were the right amount of a lot, together.
Our friendship built in what, in hindsight, feels like a fast and furious connection. We have a shared hobby which brought us together on a weekly basis, in a location we both didn’t know, and a late-night lockup routine that had us relying on each other.
As time went on, it grew from necessity and shared hobby to tears, support, sharing a home, and calling each other best friends. We share a culture, a community, and at this point, an intimate group of friends.
Over the past two years, we exchanged a lot of “I love you”s.
When I moved away a year ago, I didn’t expect much to change.
She said: “I’m not worried. You can’t get rid of me. You’re stuck with me.”
To be fair — I thought I was going to live in Edmonton for 2–4 months, at most. Here I am (a harsh winter and a pandemic later), still not “home”.
I’m okay with that. But I don’t know if she is.
What I mean by that is — of course she accepts my choices and wants the best for me. But if I’ve learned anything about maintaining long-distance friendships, its that some people lose connection with you faster once your shared interest is gone.
I no longer share a weekly schedule with Vanessa. Our dynamic is totally different.
So, when she said that our conversations can feel draining for her, and she’s taking a step back from our friendship to protect her energy, I felt disappointed.
This year I have had some really tough moments. I threw a lot of my time and energy into a relationship that was emotionally turbulent for me, and I needed to lean on my friends a lot for grounding and support.
In a “normal” friendship dynamic — you have these tougher moments — and then you get to go dancing. You get to change the energy by seeing your girlfriends, getting drunk, shooting the shit, going for a run together, grabbing coffee, etc.
In our scenario, I didn’t have any other ways to connect with her that were “fun”. We just had talking. We had the phone or video chat.
And I know that sucks.
Friendships don’t thrive on conversation alone.
It stifles them, makes them unsexy, boring, tiring, draining, and blah.
And so — I’m sad. Because Vanessa has taken a giant step back from our friendship. She has been creating distance for 6 months.
Normally, I would have seen her more often. I had plane tickets to Toronto for a show. I thought we could have moved the energy around in our dynamic, bringing back the playfulness and the trust.
These things are so important. Friendships need dynamism, fluidity. They need the same thing every relationship needs.
I just thought I would be given the chance to do that.
Even in our last conversation which was, unfortunately, over text, I asked for a chance to talk about how she has been feeling.
A dynamic cannot change if we don’t let it.
I feel like a wall went up with me a long time ago, or was slowly building. By the time she finally decided to communicate with me directly about it — she wasn’t interested in “saving” anything.
So, while I’m disappointed, I’m also able to let it go. In my friendships, open and honest communication is important.
If I’ve crossed a boundary with you, I want to know.
If you feel that I’m taking up too much oxygen, or you’re tired and want to talk about something else — tell me.
I can’t guess. I can’t solve anything without you.
Friendships are a team sport. If I say I love you, I’m committed to you. If you upset me, I want to talk about it. Granted, the pandemic made things worse for my plans to speak face-to-face.
Not all hard conversations can happen over the phone. Things need to be felt. And I wanted to do that with Vanessa, in person. Face-to-face. Heart-to-heart.
I didn’t get that chance.
So, I was hoping for a chance to do it the shitty way — the phone call way, because no other option exists.
She said no.
She set a boundary.
In doing so, she “boundaried” me right out of her life.