It is not physical solitude that actually separates one from others, not physical isolation, but spiritual isolation. It is not the desert island nor the stony wilderness that cuts you off from the people you love. It is the wilderness in the mind, the desert wastes in the heart through which one wanders lost and a stranger. When one is a stranger to oneself, then one is estranged from others, too. — Anne Morrow Lindbergh in Gift From the Sea

While blessed with lifelong friends from childhood, my college days and first jobs, it grows increasingly difficult to make and keep new, true friends. A while back (in a short time frame), several friendships turned and I wondered was it me…, or did others go through the same kinds of experiences? In my conversations with others, it has been apparent that we all struggle with interpersonal challenges, especially when life circumstances impede opportunities to meet new people as often as we might have when we were young adults.

There are all different kinds of friendships and all different kinds of “defriendings”. There might be the friend who after 4 months cuts off any opportunity to explore a deeper relationship; there might be the friend who declares a “defriendship” right away, or “defriends” you on Facebook. The worse kind of “defriending” comes in the form of a gradual decline in closeness where a friend no longer has the time to go shopping, sit for a latte or just hang out. When schedules are incompatible and friendship circles vary, the disconnect can be a deep source of sadness.

Introspectively, it may be helpful to ponder what role in each heartbreak we play. I did so and found 4 familiar themes emerging:

  • Projection: Seeing what we want to see in each friendship, reading more into it than is there.
  • Presumption: Presuming we have made an instant friend because we click right away with that person.
  • Pessimism: Complaining and being a sad sack, burdening the relationship with negative self-talk.
  • Pre-occupied: Becoming so self-centered that it is not possible to be there for others in their pain.

I am now aware of the role I’ve played in my own “defriendships” — projecting onto people what I wanted to see in them, presuming that we’d become close, and maintaining a pessimistic outlook and wallowing self-pity party that was burdensome to others.

It is up to ME to transmute the negative mindset and BE the kind of friend I want to experience in others. True friendship begins within, before it can be extended. Love is the guiding source.