I don’t.

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I…don’t. (yet)

The cultural push toward “love” leaves acknowledgement of “aloneness” ignored.

Commitment issues? Well, yeah.

Losing friendships sucks. I do it regularly.

When you’re older, like me, 44, you’ve lost dozens–hundreds–of good friends. Things change. Jobs. Children. Marriages. Moving away. Awkward moments that lead to hurt and bad communication. I’m sure there’s other causes on the list.

I’ve always wanted children. I haven’t always, to my mind, been ready to raise children. But for the last few years I’ve been more or less steady and successful financially, I have a good home, I’ve grown up a fair amount. I’m ready as I’ll ever be, just about.

But I’m still not sure I’m ready for marriage. After all, those lost friendships. If I can’t even maintain friendships—which so often seem founded on “not wanting to be alone” rather than the sort of powerful joy and connection I recall from high school (with friends I’ve long since lost touch with)…if I can’t even maintain friendships, how do I expect to mean what I say when I say “I do”?

I’m not closed-minded, or cynical. I would love to hear from you, or those who have friendships not just based on blood or religion but based on, well, affection. What does it take? I wrote a book about this sort of question, after all, and I’m still asking.

I didn’t grow up with models of love or friendship that lasted. I grew up in a sweet, fun, inspired community—but it was bonded by shared experiences within a spiritual community. All too often our friendships are dependent on outward form: we play sports together, we’re involved in the same volunteer organization, we go to school together, we pray together. Take out that outward form, and the friendship fades.

Just this week, I’m confronted by yet another dear, important friendship of mine fading. It’s been fading for a year. It leaves me hurt, lonely, confused, at a loss. I don’t know what to do about it, other than work on letting go.

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Paula Centofanti Sep 13, 2018 1:25pm

How do you prefer to meet someone? Do you guys date online or just get set up or sponatnously meet at an event by chance?

Gail Steele Aug 16, 2018 7:05pm

I own your book, Waylon. Its even better when You read it to Us, as a sensitive guy. Thank You!

Tracy Langford Aug 14, 2018 1:16pm

Waylon you are overthinking ! If you find your ideal life partner - spiritual, conscious, environmental...then it will be a wonderful experience that will take you to new heights!! If it’s not forever then consciously uncouple with love. You are gorgeous and loving and i would marry you :D x

Marci Diaz Apple Aug 14, 2018 11:56am

This year, I realized that we (I) romanticize friendships. We have those moments, even years, of such awesome connection that when some begin to evolve or grow in a different direction, we hold on for dear life! We want to be that ride or die friend who weathered the storms and stayed through it all! This kind of loyalty doesn’t serve us when hanging on means not being able to let go of something or someone that is no longer good for us. It doesn’t mean “they” are bad or not worth fighting for. But we change. We grow. We grow up. It’s okay to not know why you don’t connect with someone anymore. Love what you had, love from a distance if you have to.

Sandra Lee Plum Aug 14, 2018 11:19am

Lots of good advice to consider. Friendship/relationship, which is it for you? Is it a combination of the two, that would be a good thing. And I have to wonder if it's a man/woman thing. If a man I was in a relationship with (spending time with exclusively and making love to) clasified our relationship as a friendship I would probably become upset. I have friends but I'm not intimate with them and for me a relations is more emotionally envolved. At your age how much time do you think you have??? No, don't feel like you have to settle. I can tell you at my age finding "The One" isn't easy! A man came into my life last year and I'm still morning the loss of him. If he were to show up on my doorstep today and say "baby lets find a preacher" I wouldn't hesitate one second. So it's different for everyone of us. For me I just know in my heart, in my mind and in my soul. I know for certain what I want, the next 30 years. If the person I'm with isn't on the same page then we are just waisting time. And I have started down that road a couple of times as well. Taking it slow is one thing but being friends with benefits gets a little old pretty fast, where are they when you need a hug or a ride to the ER? At my age time isn't a luxury I can afford. Since you find yourself at this crossroad one would think that this isn't the "I do" partnet for you. But like any friendship/relstionship you tend to get out of it what you put in it. Communication is the key. My best to you.

Janet Born Aug 14, 2018 12:21am

Jannette Northrup It is one of the most ironic things in life that I’ve learned late and marvel at the simplicity - when you decide who you are and let her shine out against all who say no - you’ll actually create what you’re looking for. People will see your authenticity and be drawn in to it. It also gives others who see it permission to do the same. One day you’ll be content and so YOU and look around to see others same presence, love and support. It’s amazing and worth it all I promise. A season of pursuing yourself and doing things you’ve always dreamed - like I’m a hard driving person permission to slow down and enjoy a cup of tea on the patio without guilt. You can do this. All of us wild and free people want you here❤️

Sandy Price Aug 13, 2018 9:56pm

Hey Waylon - just have to say friendships, like marriages, are often difficult to continue once you truely see the dark side of ones friend or spouse. The test then has become for me, do I keep the relationship going and continue to poor unconditional love into the equation? Do I continue to poor energy into holding the space for them? Or do I move on? For years I have always been the giver of this equation and not until I hit my forties did I realize it was time to start letting relationships go (including a 25 year marriage). I still continue to hope to find another man to share my life with so keep posting on love, relationships and friendships please. Love your stuff - Sandy

Erick Oshel Aug 13, 2018 8:31pm

I agree. The key word for marriage is 'commitment.' Marriage can start as a friendship, but you don't have to be buddies. Marriage is a promise to care for each other through thick and thin. It is a commitment to do the hard work and heavy lifting that life together requires. It is a surrender to make 'us' (your spouse and family) as important as 'me'. Friendship is a parallel relationship to marriage although both are awesome.

Jannette Northrup Aug 13, 2018 8:26pm

Christine Brown I will look that up. I tend to over workout and add more weights to my weak routine in hopes stress will subside and I focus on myself, instead of giving my all to someone who doesn’t even notice

Jannette Northrup Aug 13, 2018 8:24pm

Thank you Janet. Love the poem and the analogy. I tend to trust and believe the best of every person. I also tend to share my soul fast! I love everyone and yet it’s never reciprocated so i analyse what I should let go of in communicarion? I don’t want to be in a box again. I’m truely at a loss because as I said I feel I missing a most important link because if I can’t be myself and be loved, I have to learn, which I am on the journey of doing, to love myself. Awkward and confused as ever

Christine Brown Aug 13, 2018 7:25pm

Try walking 560 miles of the Camino Santiago. It is not a resort of any kind but a pilgrimage. Watch the movie The Way. I'm doing it in a month.

Cindy Helene Popkin-Bradley Aug 13, 2018 5:50pm

Waylon, you are a very evolved soul! Most people can't be by themselves so they've never been exposed to their feelings. I don't have words for lasting friendships. What comes to mind is that there must be a Buddhist child living in a monastery somewhere in this whole wide world that needs you. You are in a position to give that child a loving home. The wife and biological child will most likely follow. Best wishes.

Janet Born Aug 13, 2018 2:56pm

First of all the criteria for friends on every level is different than that for an intimate life partner. All I can tell you is when you meet the right one for you it will flow with a deep confidence and “right path” resonance. The mere fact they’d be sharing everything in your space is a much more intense relationship. I’ve come to believe that friendships are like all people in our lives and are not meant to be a permanent factor per se, but more of a right now in this moment connection. We are all on different paths and seasons of life and it’s pretty cool when they match up for a while. Enjoy that. This poem described it best for me and gives me great peace in my journey: People Aren’t Homes “Child why did no one ever teach you That you cannot turn people into homes People are rivers ever changing ever flowing They will disappear with everything you put inside them Still your home does have a heartbeat but it isn’t locked in anyone else’s chest Just look inside your own.” ~Nikita Gill So just tell your mind to shut up and unleash your heart to love and live free. Yep, you’ll get hurt. Yep, it’s worth every minute of bliss and growth.

Claudia Volano Aug 13, 2018 2:35pm

So interesting that all responses are from females - coincidence? Marriage has become such a crapshoot that I feel the legal contract can and maybe should be avoided without avoiding emotional ans spiritual commitment. In the end the commitment is only as good as the intention and carry-through as many of us divorced people know. Some peope elect to have a commitment ceremony - maybe a good option for you and the potential co-parent of your child-to-be?

Claudia Volano Aug 13, 2018 2:27pm

I feel the same way and understand. Didn't want to click "Like" but I appreciate your post.

Sharon J Brown Aug 13, 2018 2:24pm

I managed to get out of a 17 year long bad marriage which had nearly made ME disappear, but I had been raised to believe in marriage, my parents had stayed married when even I at 11 thought they should divorce. I analyzed what I wanted in a partner & that person actually picked me up one day & the rest is history, so to speak. BUT, it takes work to stay on top of a relationship. And both partners need to feel the power of commitment. For me it was just innate knowledge, plus years of therapy for other personal issues. Maybe this potential loss is your key to open up your own innate knowledge. Every step we take can lead to loss but does it ? I have "lost" both my parents, my brother, my ex-husband ( twice in a way), & our son together, all to death. I still go on & the richness of life is enhanced by all this loss, as is the incredible depth of my relationship with my husband. That is what you seek & what you are missing.

Karen Stearns Ballard Aug 13, 2018 2:22pm

I agree, I wouldn't want my husband to be "my best friend". Spouces don't need to be our confidant, doesn't need to know every little secret (not talking about naughty things), every thing I do 24/7. There should be some mystery, curiosity, and keep surprising each other. And no to that phrase "you complete me". Girlfriends are for venting, secrets and just silly girlie talk. I had 32 good years of a marriage. He once said, you always left me wondering, what will she do next :-)

Jannette Northrup Aug 13, 2018 2:21pm

I wanted to read more. I need to read more because I am in that situation. In a lover. I thought when ai grew up I could make mindful decisions that worked because I was honest. And aware. Aware that affection and the rejection of it hurts but am i willing to risk that to gain a possible partner for life. But yet here I am again. Hurt and baffled that as I hurled myself into this loving, what I thought was mutual perfect connection was only seen through my eyes. But yet I felt his emotions, I saw the connection in his eyes and we even spoke and laughed about great it was to speak it thoughts out loud above our inhibitions. But now, rejected thrice and at a loss. Times like this force me to indulge in myself and i become stronger. Or do I? I’m missing a huge piece in this world of relationships and I need another view. I want to go away to some kind of mind and heart resort or be tossed upside down and shaken in order to think clearly. It is my nature to give all and for that I am solid on and will not compromise. So I suppose getting hurt at every turn is my risk. HELP

Pam Wyatt Kasperitis Aug 13, 2018 2:21pm

This article hit me hard this morning. For the last 6 months I have had 2 friendships that were based out of lonliness and they got me through the last 6 months but this weekend they faded out - I spent the weekend in a flury of hurt and then saw this article and realized that THEY got me through the last 6 months but that was all...I hope that at some point I helped them like they helped me and now feel free to move on...

Kim Silva Aug 13, 2018 2:05pm

I would say that my life partner is my friend, but our commitment to each other is WAY MORE than any of our other friendships. For us, it is a commitment to: mix our finances legally, including ensuring the other inherits our assets; take care of each other if we are ill or injuried; look out for each other’s children from other marriages; always consider how our actions and decisions may affect the other person, and to consult and decide with the other for important or expensive actions and decisions; try to grow with each other with intention; honor our differences and learn to help each other be our best selves; stay committed even when the going gets tough, then work out a solution together that is best for both of us; do whatever is needed to help the other person thrive and grow. For us, it is about taking care of each other for the rest of our lives, even if that doesn’t look traditional. For example, we currently live on different coasts because he had a work opportunity of a lifetime, so we worked it out because of our commitment to each other. Life partners do that for each other, and make it happen for each other. That’s the difference. I have a couple very deep friendships that I consider family, but my “I do” was asking for and committing to more than I’d ever ask of my friends or family, adopted or blood.

MiMi Meeks Aug 13, 2018 1:50pm

Such foreign words. Long ago I unknowingly committed myself to a life alone. I have my family, a friend or two but that is all. I’m always separated from them by this unwillingness to get too involved. To eventually be hurt, I’ve always thought, if I’m happy, if my life is filled with love then it will eventually be torn from me and the thought of that happening was more than I could bare. If loving someone could hurt, just imagine the hurt when that love was gone. So I’ve committed myself long ago (regretfully) to a life alone....

Ilene Beninson Aug 13, 2018 12:59pm

Ath the end of this essay, you state that you need to work on "letting go" of a friendship and it appears you're in pain over this loss. Instead of working on "letting go" maybe try communicating how you feel about this loss and work with this friend to Stop the end of this relationship. Relationships are not simple and if a friend means a lot to you, it takes work on by both persons to keep things going and working well. Relationships, Friendships and Marriage require work to keep them strong. I am in my 60s and have lost many friends as well as a marriage that was literally unhealthy for me. I have only one regret when it comes to a friend whose marriage proposal I turned down years ago, but the friendship is strong and I will continue to work on keeping it as long as we both are alive.

Jenni Lynne Aug 13, 2018 1:52am

Friendship and I do? I mean, I know the word on the street is that they are one in the same. But really, I feel like we should unpack that assumption a little bit more before we confirm. What exactly do friendhship and "I do" have in common? I am really curious... and hope I am not coming off as a bitch, although I did make a statement earlier that I was going to be one, from that moment forward, bc of an article. ON EJ.. Im new to this type of communication. Anyways... To me, friendship and I do, are opposite. I dont want to be friends with my husband. He can be friends with everyone, but me. I might be off, I often, am; however on this one, I'm, pretty solid.

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Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.