Human relationships are fragile

14 Aug

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…

9 Responses to “Human relationships are fragile”

  1. wordsfromawoman August 14, 2010 at 9:35 am #

    This frailty may account for us spending more and more of our time at our computer and do our socializing online. In my own experience, my interactions with animals have been far more rewarding than those with humans.

  2. godlesspaladin August 14, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    Yeah, I can understand that. The computer gives and extra safety net of sorts. And yeah, animals don’t do things like change for no apparent reason or fall out of love with you. <.<

  3. teo August 15, 2010 at 3:50 am #

    “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?”

    You know, I’ve managed to keep a couple of my childhood-friendship till today, although I’m living in a different country now, but I had to realize, that in order to do that, I’ve forgiven a lot, mostly a lot more than my friends did. I agree with you, bad fights shouldn’t mean that much, but most people just aren’t that comfortable with forgiving I guess. Friendship seems to become kind of a consume good nowadays I think.

    “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.”

    I’m the same, the returning part is really hard to find, I don’t really think I’ve found it yet. People are distrustful and selfish today, you can’t get that kind of loyalty if someone thinks: “Well, you die for me first, so that I can really believe that you would do it, and then I would die for you too of course.”, sadly I get the feeling that most people think that way.

    Still you should never give up of course, it just wouldn’t make you happy I think, because e.g. in me I feel the need to give and find that kind of intense love and loyalty, I wouldn’t feel fulfilled if I wasn’t at least on the search for it.

  4. Trollsmyth August 15, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    Human relationships are fragile, and most are built that way. The housecarl-level of loyalty is pretty rare these days. I imagine most folks don’t have any friends that close, and those that do have maybe one or two such friends at most, and these are friendships that have grown slowly over years.

    I think it’s important to keep in mind that you can’t make people like you, as I’m sure you’ve learned. You can do your best to be a stand-up person and true to yourself. After that, you mostly have to trust that like will find like, though joining groups or associations that share your values and interests will almost certainly speed the process. Just keep in mind that there are real jerks in just about any organization larger than four people, and most organizations comprised of less than four people are almost entirely made up of jerks. 😉

    But yeah, the only way I know to attract the sort of friendship you’re talking about is to be the sort of person who is worthy of it.

  5. anonymous October 12, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    I don’t believe it.. I’ve been going through these *exact* feelings. Looking for some sort of comfort, I googled “give up on human relationships” and here I am.

    All I wanted was one good friend and for him to recognize my loyalty for what it is, know how deep it is, and appreciate it some. I did nothing wrong and yet I feel like I’m being avoided now, and also I am getting mixed messages and no explanations. I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread now, and all I’ve ever done is be the most loyal, caring friend a person can be.

    I just need my friend.

  6. godlesspaladin October 12, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    Hey anon, e-mail me at thegodlesspaladin@gmail (or find me on gtalk by the same name) if you want someone to chat/vent to. Sometimes it helps to unload to a stranger.

  7. greengeekgirl January 23, 2011 at 1:55 am #

    Having been through the whole “I give more than I get” scenario a whole bunch of times, I’ve learned something pretty significant: you don’t have to give all of yourself to someone to be a friend. That you used to dream of sacrificing your life for friends is kind of telling; that should be something to be feared, a worst-case scenario. But it doesn’t have to be that way to have great friendships ^_^ In fact, I think it makes things worse to think of that way, because most people are not ready to sacrifice themselves to extremes. Our nature is selfish and doesn’t allow for that in most cases; you may be setting yourself up for disappointment :\

    I’ve also learned that if friendships are ending “suddenly,” it’s usually because I haven’t been paying attention. The blog that you responded to, that friendship ended “suddenly” but it really ended over a long period of time. I turned a blind eye to it for a very long time, much longer than I probably should have. When there are problems, and you’re not working through them for whatever reason, it’s a strong indicator that the friendship is going to come to an end at some point.

    My best friends are the ones who are always there to listen when I’m having a bad time; the ones who will tell me painful truths when I need to hear them and white lies when I need to hear those; they are the ones who genuinely want to spend time with me, whether in real life or chatting online; they are the ones who will defend my honor if someone is talking smack about me behind my back (or in front of my face) and support me in decisions that I make, even if they don’t agree with them or think they’re crazy. I think we have friends for simple human contact, for fellowship, and that is what I want most from mine. ^_^

  8. Jesse April 10, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    I read your note and i must say it really hit home for me, its strange but it was like i was reading about myself or a letter from the future of my own writing. I have been having the exact same problem and have reached apoint where i dont know what to. However i feel like i am a sort of hero type and heros dont give up so i just keep doing what i have been, getting into relationships with people only to have them fail in the end and to never experience the return of loyalty i give. i would really like to hear more from you and if you want im a bit of a writer myself i have this one writing called the hero you might want to take alook at it it might give you some insight.

  9. rainbow July 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    i intended to post a long and philosophical response to your question, but the moment i began to write in this little white space here i realized i had to form it as i wrote.. as long as humans are human, relationships will be only as strong as the individual is. perhaps humans are…resistant to stability, always looking for something better, a newer experience. i think what happened in all the instances you mention in this blog post was a lack of communication when things began to deaden (humans are creatures of habit) and simply being until one day the realization of how absurd the situation is hits you over the head and you are forced to depart from the relationship. the idea is for the people involved to change together, to be in a way on a hunt for something, a shared goal.

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