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Looking at Relationships

Having wonderful friends who stand by you, listen to you crib about life and soothe you so that when you've calmed down, you are ready to face the music - nothing beats that, right?  They are the people we can turn to when we really need to crib, get advice or just pour out whatever is bugging us. I do that all the time with my friends and they do the same with me. Still, i have to be honest, all relationships are dynamic because change happens all the time, sometimes there is little we can do to fight it.

I remember a friend, whom I became very close to on the first day we met. The next day she said, "My mother told me that I should learn to balance it out because friendships, even the best ones, change faster than the speed of lightning. It's important to keep that perspective in place."

At the time, I felt a little hurt and even wondered why her mother had conveyed such a message to her but now I think it makes sense because we can't make everything stay still. All relationships are subject to change, whether we like it or not. It's important to safeguard your privacy and personal details so that you don't make the mistake of trusting the wrong person and repenting it later.

Many years ago, my  uncle told me, "Whatever you discuss with your friends, never discuss about your immediate family members with anyone. Talk about career, learning, hobbies, films, travel and books but don't talk about things that are close to your heart. If some day, your relationship with that person becomes bad, you should not have regrets about what you revealed about your loved ones."

I am not sure I agreed with him but I have seen women, once friends and later when they have issues with each other, using those very 'confidential' details to hurt the other. I do not know why women do this but it is a fact that they do. These were my exact thoughts when I read the gripping novel 'Looking Back' by Belva Plain about  three best friends:

Amanda: who loves expensive things and feels ashamed of her family who struggle to make ends meet in their dilapidated home that is bursting with kids and very little space. She decides to marry Larry whom she finds it difficult to even like but the choice gives her the freedom to buy whatever she wants, without his knowledge, of course.

Norma: who is very intelligent, compassionate, judgmental and the daughter of a very rich businessman, but because of her large, trunk like abnormal legs, she is an eternal wallflower who feels insecure and has to dance with Larry, her loving brother at every social dance or event.

Cecile: who is amazing because she is classy, beautiful, simple, passionate, wealthy, sensitive, caring and kind and she finds her match in Peter, who is just so perfect for her yet very strong and independent that he would not accept her wealth or money in anyway.

Doesn't it seem like these three women will never cease to be best friends? Isn't that how we too begin our friendships? We like to believe that the friendship will be forever and that the word 'parting' never comes. Very few relationships, even the best of friendships, endure the test of time as most of us already know. 
The friendship of these three amazing women comes a long way. What makes this book a must-read is the detailing in each character - the choices they make and the lives they eventually lead - are so well defined and etched out that you want to cry for them when their relationships turn so ugly, irrevocably so because it all begins with one betraying the trust of another.

A scene where Peter and Cecile have their first marital quarrel and she says that till then they had always agreed about everything, Peter asks, " Did you think we were going to go through life like a reflection of each other?..."

And then Belva Plain's narratve of Cecile's perspective is so beautifully framed:  

She wanted to tell him that all of a sudden a window had opened before her, that she was looking out upon the vast plain of life, seeing the long road on which two small creatures, would travel and, bound to each other as they were, would sometimes hurt each other and be sorry.

Anita Davison, wrote a post titled 'Story Arcs in Historical Fiction' where she briefly stated that 'conflict is the essence of drama.' She also states in the post, 'Without conflict, you don't have a novel.'

When I think about the best books I've read, I agree with Anita because it is the element of conflict that forms the main ingredient in a good novel that keeps a reader glued to every page. In the same context, I think our most important relationships in life with parents, spouse, and children are tested time and again through conflicts that arise and the solutions we find to tackle those conflicts.

Think about the conflicts you've had in your relationships and how you learned better ways of tackling it. It could be with your parents, friends, employers or in-laws. I've had teachers telling me about how some parents just meet to attack and accuse them rather than listen or understand. I've seen some colleagues experiencing conflicts with each other, some choose to take the negative stance and feeling worse about themselves while others take it as a learning curve and do something about it rather than deepen the conflict. We have different ways of dealing with conflict because its the salt that keeps life moving on to higher learning curves.

If you have made terrible mistakes and messed up things to worsen your conflicts, you would have learned from that and moved on to make better, informed decisions, right? Think about conflicts in a positive way than as something you want to forget. Think about what you've learned from it. And then, perhaps, you'll realize that you've come a long, wonderful way. To begin with, just think about it.


chitra said…
Every friendship does not last. I don't have contact with my college or school friends though many were close at that time. If at all we meet it is only exchanging pleasantries.. I wonder what had changed over the years.

I have a very close friend now and we are continuing the relationship for the last 20 years. We are there for each other when ever there is a need. But the beauty lies in the fact that we never delve into the personal life of each other.I think that is the success of that relationship.

good analytical style you have :)
good wise points here we only have a few true friends in life often friends are for a season love Rebecca
Petty Witter said…
I think it's true what they say 'You may have many acquaintances but only a few real friends'. Another interesting saying being 'You can chose your friends but not your family'.

I have two really good friends. Apart from Hubby, they are the two people who know most about me, they have seen me at my worst as well as at my best, I would be truly lost without them.
Anam said…
Beautifullu written Swapna. I wish I had your talent to express myself :) At one time friends were important to me, but we'd always go apart with time and distance. Now my dear friends are 3 amazing sisters of mine. Yes we have our ups and downs, but we are always there for each other, and even if we try we cant really get out of each others life :) It was an honour getting an award from such a brilliant writter :)
HI Swapna,

Good one about the human relations..yes, every relation that is existing today is meant to change..every one including family and frnds..

we should never take any one for granted..and that makes the life beautiful..:)
Lavanya Sriram said…
I have some very close friends from school and college. Even though we see each other probably once in a year or so, the moment we see again, we connect and there are no barriers. I think I am very fortunate to have such friends, they are my extended family and I would trust them any day. Like everything, even for friendship, we need the commitment and the maturity to handle friendship.
ssstoryteller said…
We tend to take blood ties for granted..but friends that we choose to make become valuable, as we know it depends on what and how We develop it...if we are as caring with our own blood ties then conflict, i believe can be minimised.
Good read...analysis is interesting...
BK Chowla said…
The only relation that never goes sour is with your parents.
I do not agree that women share the secrets of their ex do exactly the same,so why blame the women.We are all same because we look for some benefits from the friendship,which always never pays.
However,good thoughtful post.
Haven and Home said…
You are right, so people become your true friends. We moved here a few years ago and so many wonderful acquaintences, but only a couple of really good friends.
Swati said…
Friends is a very generic word ..we come along so many ppl in life at school , college and work. We spend good times with a lot of them and we call them our friends. But not all of them are real friends. Most of them are temporary and share only few years of good times. The friendships that sustain after you are no longer in close affinity are real friendships. Do we feel the same for all the people who were our good friends once upon a time ? I don't
Adding my thoughts to yours:

@Chitra: Yes, I think change does happen over the years and that is why we can't sustain the same level of closeness with all friends but we can do so with one or two people in a lasting way.

@Chow and Chatter: Thanks!

@Petty: It's so good to hear about your friendship. I think that is so important to our life.

@Anam: Thanks for the sweet words.I know what you mean about sisters bit. Same at my end. My sister and I are best friends and we stick up for one another through tough times and of course, the good times too.

@Pramoda: Yes, I think your point is valid. We should never take anyone for granted.

@Lavanya: I liked the point you stated 'we need the commitment and the maturity to handle friendship.' That's really important.

@storyteller: Thanks, yes, minimizing conflict is a good point. I also liked your point about how we tend to take blood ties for granted. It happens without our knowledge most times but yes, we do it all the time, don't we?

@BK Chowla: Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it is interesting. Parents are our Gods, arent they? They support and add meaning to our life from the day we are born till forever. I am not sure we can do a comparison between parents and friends here for the same reason.

@Science Blogger: Thanks

@Haven and Home: It is very nice to hear that you've made good friends there, touchwood.

@Swati: Your comment was very interesting and thought provoking and I hope you don't mind me disagreeing with some points.

True, we spend good times with a lot of friends. But when you look back or introspect, I agree that not all are real friends. Still, I treasure those friendships because it taught me something during the good and abd moments. I learned something about myself through those temporary friendships too. Because all friendships leave something behind for us to treasure or grow into or learn from.

As you rightly stated, real friendships sustain after a long time - they shine forever so their value cannot be undermined.

To be honest, I have great love for all my friends, even if I knew them for a very short time, I remember them for all the good things I learned from them and the good, fun moments too.
Uma said…
While we make many friends, not all of them are the same. We share different kinds of friends - with some you are your own mad self, with some others, you play a confidante, some are fun friends and so on... from what I have seen, the less conditional ones last longer than the others...
An absolutely amazing piece.. I can relate to it so much!
@Uma: True, we share different kinds of friends.

@Lesser Child: Thanks!
B said…
Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. Really enjoying reading your blog; very thought provoking stuff! B
nice congratulations.........!!!

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