By Amy Heard
There are so many different kinds of relationships one has to master. There is the parent-child relationship that seems to take at least 18 years to figure out, and the sibling relationship that changes incredibly rapidly as time passes. There’s the boyfriend-girlfriend dynamic that looks different in every couple, and the boss-employee relationship that can either be dreadful or great, depending on your efforts as a worker and the personality of your superior. For students, there’s the always confusing professor-student relationship that depends entirely on how high on the food chain the particular professor considers undergraduate students to be.
On top of all these pairs, the average person has to deal with neighbors, co-workers, in-laws, acquaintances, friends of friends whose names you should know but don’t and those people who just grate on your nerves.
More daunting than the number of relationships one must juggle is the frequency with which they change. With new classes come new classmates; with new jobs come new bosses. Boyfriends come and go and professors change every semester.
Even if the people in your life stay the same, there’s no guarantee your relationship with them is secure.
In my experience, there are three main saboteurs of relationships.
The first (and what generally gets me) is language. Words taken out of context or blown out of proportion ruin friendships 10 times faster than they are formed. Though I have gotten better as I’ve gotten older, I still get myself in trouble with what I say. It is incredibly easy to underestimate the impact careless talking can have. I have been learning this lesson the hard way since middle school, but it is still incredibly easy to assume you are on strong enough ground to crack the joke that ends the friendship.
The second divider is the introduction of new relationships. A new boyfriend sucks away all the attention you used to get. Some random girl in your best friend’s economic class suggests a study date and all of a sudden they’re besties.
When I left for college, I knew friendships would change, but it’s still almost uncomfortable to watch your former best friends form entirely new lives in which you have no part. It’s even more frustrating to fight to make new bonds in college, then watch them melt away when you move out of the dorms, or join a different sorority than your roommate.
The third saboteur is perhaps the most insidious. It happens with the people you actually intended to stay close to. At first you talk on the phone, text pretty frequently, and see each other whenever you’re in the same town. As time goes on though, the phone calls stop, the texts become increasingly infrequent and hanging out in person would probably be awkward. Every once in a while something will happen that makes you think of the long-lost friend, and you might even venture a text, but the relationship is so far gone it can probably never be revived.
Even more deadly than these three processes is their combination.
A misplaced word coupled with a reduction in communication invariably leads to the loss of a friend. A friend with a new relationship might be especially sensitive to comments about her new boo. In a world increasingly ruled by “social” media, it seems harder than ever to maintain true friendships.
So despite the danger of being the pot that called the kettle black, I encourage you to force a censor between your mind and mouth. Don’t forget what it feels like to be in the throes of a new relationship, and forgive your friends who forget you exist for those two weeks.
Most importantly, no matter how busy you get, remember those friends that have always been there for you. Texts are easy to send, and maintaining relationships is markedly easier than rebuilding or forging new ones.
Amy Heard is a junior English major from San Antonio.