I've always been a bit envious of those people that have a ''strong circle of friends''. You know, the kind where all the wives are besties, the husbands are mates, the kids play happily together, and it's all rather ''F.R.I.E.N.D.S'' like.
I'm also rather envious of those big families where there's lots of strong bonds - family get togethers, singing round the barbecue, and all that. Sure, I get that it's a cliche. I get that I watch too much American TV, but I still like it.
I'm lucky enough to have a circle of friends that kind of fits the description above, and I do come from a large family that (on one side anyway) has amazing annual get togethers. And I have a close relationship with my parents and siblings if not the extended family in general.
This week I have had conversations for four different people who have all been lamenting the disconnect between their commitment to friendship (in particular) and that of the the friends involved. Some people are really good at maintaining friendships with people they seldom see, and others just don't seem to want to put in the effort.
I suppose it's like any relationship, in that you have to both want success. And it would seem that longevity is also not enough to guarantee the health of a friendship. But the other observation I have made, is that for those people with very strong family ties, or a strong circle of current friends, there seems to be less need to maintain lasting bonds with seldom seen friends. And for those that don't have good family relationships, the energy is put into friendships instead.
The problem comes of course, when one person values the friendship more than the other. Or at least puts more priority on it than the other.
My guess is that if you have really strong connections with your family, it is impossible to understand what it would be like not to have that. It would be difficult to understand why someone would put as much store in a friendship as they put into their family relationships. It might even make the family-light person seem a bit ...well, intense?
Perhaps, but I would argue that friendships can be, and are, just as rewarding as the relationships we have with people we are biologically connected to - in fact sometimes more so. After all, one is always related, but a friendship requires a real commitment from two sides.
Here's the question/challenge for you:
Do you value your friends as much (or even more) than your family?
What would happen if you had to choose one over the other?
Do you consider your friends an extension of your family?
How much effort are you really prepared to put into maintaining friendships with people you have known for a long time?