Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Can we still be friends?

16 September 2015


Today’s blog title is borrowed from a famous Todd Rundgren song but many of you will only know the near perfect version by the late and great Robert Palmer. I also love the duet between Daryl Hall and Todd Rundgren at LFDH. For the ones who do not know this song at all, sit back and enjoy.

The focus in the question – Can we still be friends? – can be on ‘friends‘, on ‘can‘ or on ‘still‘.

I have lost many friends due to my divorce, my working and living abroad, my burn-out, my continued lack of employment, and – last but certainly not least – last year’s break-up with my gf. Now I look at back at these years and mainly see my overdue transformation. During those years I was mainly fighting this change, fighting people, and most of all fighting myself.

I used to be the one pushing and pulling the friendships and networking – ‘more is better’. However, friends are like bankers who lend you their umbrella when it’s sunny and want it back when it rains (quote) – a.k.a. fair-weather friends. Today I prefer ‘less is more’ – even with friends. In rare cases I am in serious doubt whether a person belongs to my past, present or future. The title of today’s blog – and song – may only apply to a few persons. The rest belongs to my past.

Friendship can only exist when mutual expectations are in line. I give a lot of myself and expect a lot in return. That expectation is often in vain and that is the main reason why friendship fails. The solution could be in lowering expectations and downgrading friends to acquaintances. The solution might be in increasing expectations. Only a true friend then still meets – or exceeds – expectations.

This difference in mutual expectations is – in my view – the sole reason for Oscar Wilde’s legendary remark: “Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship”. If you don’t believe me then please watch this funny YouTube video. Men hope for a friendship with benefits (FWB), women want – and expect – a “neutral” friendship. Latter is just wishful thinking but it takes many women many years to figure out this expectation gap.

Time (zones) and distance are two other important factors for any friendship, besides expectations. Interestingly, they may even work both ways: improve and deteriorate although the latter is more likely. There is a (Dutch) saying: “A good neighbour is worth more than a distant friend.” It seems to be an adaptation from the Bible: “Better is a neighbour who is near than a brother far away”. From a strict practical point of view this is certainly true. To me, friendship is priceless.

Today I wonder: how many “bruises” can a friendship still endure? Is a “bruise” a sign that friendship is being tested to its bones? Or is a “bruise” a sign of “abuse” within a friendship? Bruises are a sign of vulnerability whether physically or emotionally. Dealing with your bruises – or vulnerability – may be the ultimate test for any friendship.

Don’t lick your wounds unless you care to taste the sting a second time. Richelle E. Goodrich quote

Can We Still Be Friends? – Todd Rundgren and Daryl Hall – Live From Daryl’s House

Can We Still Be Friends? – Robert Palmer (1949-2003)


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