Are the friends you've had forever really still your friends?


I have a male friend from high school that I've kept in fairly close contact with over the years. I missed his wedding because of air traffic snarls after 9/11 but I've met his wife and daughter on a few occasions and it all seems lovely. He works overseas and usually we Skype every few months and get together once a year during his stateside visits to catch up. Until about four years ago.

That's when for various reasons, our phone calls and check-ins withered down to about once a year. And this one time a year check-in always (not coincidentally) occurred when he was in the midst of some sort of HR dilemma. Had a new job offer, needed advice on a co-worker, wanted to ask for a raise and most recently wanted help drafting an employment contract.

Now I'm a helpful sort of person. I really am. As many of you know, I don't mind giving advice in a few paragraphs or less. I'll spend a few moments on the Twittah and the Facebook messaging to walk someone through an issue. I'll take a look at a resume and give pointers. I don't mind that. It generally takes less than ten minutes and I'm onto the next.

But this dude has been about some deep multiple-conversation, several items of paperwork, emailing back and forth yada-yada that I generally charge quite a bit per hour for. I haven't mentioned it to him because as I said, we've been friends for over twenty years. But now that the friendship is merely his portal for free HR consulting services... I have to pump the brakes. So today, I sent him a note letting him know that if what he wanted in lieu of friendly conversation was for me to draft an executive expatriate employment contract including a multi-tiered benefits package, housing allowance and golden parachute clause? I was going to need him to drop $$$ into my PayPal account. And then we could schedule an appointment to talk.

I had another "old friend" that I haven't seen or heard from in over five years reach out (clearly it's time to change my cell phone number). She called to chat which was fine until I realized that what she really wanted to know was if I knew anything about her new boo (we were at UT at the same time) and barring that would I run a background check on him for her.... For real tho?

This has me reviewing who is in my current circle of close friends, used-to-be-close friends, acquaintances and wannabes and wondering - who do I really still have things in common with? Who am I still close to? In a Facebook room the other day, a bunch of us were talking about how we don't really talk to our friends as often as we used to... and it's okay. A true friend is one that you can pick up the phone and catch up with at anytime, no ulterior motive, no agenda, just chatter for chatter's sake.

I think friendships are like shoes, sometimes you have to try them on and see if they still fit. Some you swap out for new models, some fall out of style and some you refuse to give up, no matter how worn they get. What say you BougieLand, have you tried your friendships on for size lately?