This idea occurred to me years ago when I went through some bad break ups (losing girlfriends and best friends as I grew up) and I wrote it down in the physical diary I had at the time. I naively hoped that I was wrong and that time would show me that some relationships are indestructible. Well in the several years that have passed since I first wrote about this, my little experiment has shown me that my original conclusion was right: No matter how strong you think your relationship with somebody is, or how sturdy the foundation, it can all be washed away in seconds.
In my experience, every major relationship I’ve had has fallen apart. First, my best friend growing up: We spent almost every day together since the fourth grade. We practically lived at each other’s houses. We both had two sets of parents, mine and his. Everywhere we went we were together. Slowly he grew colder and into an asshole, and then one day towards the end of senior year in high school we had a fight. Poof! My relationship with my best friend for 8 years was over.
My first major girlfriend, dated about 1.5 years. Things slowly deteriorated then one day we got into a fight and poof, everything was over. (It’s been several years and we’ve since then started talking again from time to time, but we’re nowhere near as close anymore)
My second major girlfriend, dated almost 3 years. Her family was a second family to me and we practically lived together. Things also slowly deteriorated towards the end then one night about a month before I graduated college she packed all her things out of my apartment and left. We got back together briefly, but officially broke it off for good right after my graduation ceremony. I gave her a hug goodbye, thanked her for a great three years of my life, and drove off to a new state where I knew nobody. We still talked for a bit, but then got into a heated IM conversation and I’ve since been completely cut out of her life after 3 years of being each other’s closest confidants. A few words, mere pixels on a screen, and everything was undone.
Lastly, my best friends from college. One I talk to now and then, the other hardly at all. The later left me to sit in his basement all day while he fucked his girlfriend after I had driven 700 miles to see him. After I told him I probably wouldn’t be living at his house in D.C. while he was away and I looked for a job he hasn’t put forth the effort to contact me. He doesn’t even message me once in a while to say “hi, how’s it going”. Just one bad day and suddenly the past 3 years of college don’t mean much? (To the other friend’s credit, he does put forth the effort to keep in touch)
I realize writing this that a couple of the relationships I’ve recounted fell apart slowly, but all of them have a distinct moment when I knew everything I had built up over the course of past years was undone. I don’t know why, but I guess I have this naive notion that history means something. Like if you have a history with someone, especially if it spans years, that you should be able to have some sort of relationship no matter how bad you fight; after all, everything you’ve been through together has to count for something? Right?
I guess not if it can all vanish in seconds. This whole thing just leads me feeling very jaded. Am I doomed to go from one relationship/friendship to another, each time hoping “maybe this time it will last!” only to end up alone and broken? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Yet I don’t see any other option! It’s either keep trying and keep getting burned, or just give up on any hope of finding a lasting friendship.
I distinctly remember pondering this years ago. I remember lamenting that what I really want were friends as loyal as medieval housecarls. I picked housecarls at the time after reading romanticized historical fictions about them and how they wouldn’t abandon their leader even in the face of certain death. It wasn’t that I wanted to be a leader and have a lot of friends, it was just that I admired and desired the loyalty the housecarls embodied. As silly as it might sound, I always thought of myself as a housecarl to my closest friends. I would do anything for them. If they were in trouble, I’d drop everything and rush to help them. It didn’t matter if doing so would cost me a school suspension, my job, my car, or even my life in the most extreme circumstances. I would walk through hell for them. (And I even had the swords and armor to complete the whole housecarl thing ^_^ )
I know that sounds extreme, but I had this intense love and loyalty I wanted so desperately to give; and wanted returned equally as strong. It was the latter that always disappointed me. I’ve never met anyone else who was willing to go as far for me as I was for them. It drove me crazy! I was keenly aware that my flavor of intense ancient style loyalty was rare. I would look at my friends and think “Can’t you grasp what I am offering you!?!? How many of your other friends would give their lives for you?” It was a borderline death wish. There was this period in high school, while other guys were fantasizing about women, I fantasized about dying big dramatic deaths defending my friends. Crazy, I know. I just always wanted the trust and loyalty I’d imagine two old war buddies would have after saving each other’s lives numerous times.
I’m starting to doubt that type of relationship exists outside of the war veteran context. Even if it does, I’d imagine it’d take time to develop, but how much time? I’ve had multiple people with whom I’ve been very close, often several years at a stretch; yet still no housecarl loyalty. Am I chasing a fairy tale? Should I just conclude that deeply loyal and trusting friendships that stand the test of time are beyond me grasp? Should I resign myself to never expecting much from any relationship/friendship since I’ve always eventually been disappointed in the end? It just seems that whenever I think I’ve built a relationship that is rock solid, a few words can undo it in seconds…