I guess I should start at the beginning. I had a friend, I’m not sure I should say his name. Let’s call him Ron. Ron and I were inseparable. I mean, we were only friends online, but we were closer than anyone. Almost like twins.
Ron and I talked all the time, but of course we both had our own lives, so it was normal that he and I didn’t talk for a few days. He had his own friends, and I had mine as well. But we were always there for each other. Best friends.
I noticed that after some time had passed, years I mean, that he started talking to me less and less. Even though I’d message or call him. He’d start to leave me on “read” or even just flat out send me to voice mail. Which didn’t bug me at first. He was probably just busy. Then I noticed it happening more and more. And I saw that even when he was online he still wouldn’t reach out to me. That started to get to me a bit. He started commissioning art that both of us had planned to get together with others. Ideas that I shared with him and we both promised to get.
Over time, I asked him what was going on. Did I say something? Did I do something? And he just flat out said “our friendship has run its course.” That hurt me so hard. Someone I had considered family to me, would just turn their back on me like that. And without a word.
Years later. I have a best friend now, we can call him Jude. Jude and I are the same way Ron and I were. Closer than anyone ever. Actually, we went to high school together. We have known each other for 11 years or so, but only have considered each other best friends for about 5-6 years probably. It feels like forever though. I love this guy to death, and I’d risk my life for him. And he feels the same way, I know it. Mostly because he told me so.
But . . . well again he has his own friends. And sometimes he will be with them instead of me. And...I really hate to say it, I feel paranoid. Almost like he will see a better friend in them instead of me, and leave me for them. Just like Ron did. He’s gotten so close with others. Even artwork with them and it scares me. Wow, typing this out, I feel disgusted with myself. And he’s noticed this. He does say it does bug him that I get like this. I tell him I’m fine but he says he doesn’t believe me when I say that.
Jude guarantees me that we are best friends until the literal end. And that he would never think about turning his back on me as Ron did. But I still get really scared.
No friendship should be like this. How can I even call this a friendship with how selfish I act like this? Am I just a terrible friend to him? I know it’s completely unfair.
* * *
This is a good example of my belief that online relationships aren't the same as in-person friendships. Real friendships require a commitment and dedication beyond typing or video chat. They take some sacrifice along with the rewards. When there is no real-life contact with a friend, when you don't go through troubles and tribulations together as well as good times, then no strong connection will form. Oh, sure, you can have friendly chats and if you share hobbies and philosophies you can feel as if there is a strong bond there, but, just like the internet, it's only virtual. "Plans" to meet sound nice, but then reality gets in the way (money, work, school, pandemics) and that "someday we will meet" gets pushed farther and farther into the future until it never happens.
Your friendship with Ron was only virtual. Eventually, he got tired of it and turned his attention to friends he could actually see and do things with in person (my theory). So, he became bored and moved on, tired of waiting for you. Jude, on the other paw, is a friend with whom you have a shared past in high school. This is a totally different ball of wax. It is much more real. It is therefore not the same as your friendship with Ron. You should not compare apples and oranges, Tieg. And you should not allow one bad experience with one person poison your friendship with Jude. If you do, you will find yourself creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, you will become so paranoid that Jude will dump you that he will feel you don't trust him and he will dump you.
Get over Ron. Jude is not comparable. Commit to this relationship; trust Jude, and don't act like Jude is Ron. If you do, you will poison what you have.
You are not a terrible friend. You're allowing fear to control you. The absolute worst thing you can do to yourself is allow fear to rule your behavior. A common human foible. Forget about Ron. Live for today. Today is all you have. Ron is the past; Jude is the future. Enjoy your friendship with Jude and trust him to be there for you. And stop torturing yourself. What happened to you is totally understandable, but now is the time to learn and grow from the experience and don't obsess over it.
Have a good holiday and a blessed New Year.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.