Discernment in friendship

I read this article on the Guardian, a letter from a reader dishing on the strained relationship with her best friend – they both fell pregnant at the same time, but unfortunately, she suffered a miscarriage at 5 months while her friend’s pregnancy carried on as planned, and ultimately, she gave birth to a healthy baby.

The reader – let’s call her Chima – could not face the fact that her friend was pregnant, and carefully avoided her until she gave birth. Chima reconnected, only to realise that her friend resented her, as she had felt unsupported and let down by the ghosting. Chima herself felt hard done by, as she also wrote that her friend wasn’t really present when she was going through her dark days after her miscarriage.

This brought me to reflect on the high expectations we often put on our friends or close relatives, with not enough regard for what they can be going through themselves.

On paper, friends have a duty of care towards each other in challenging times and celebrate wins together. We’re quick to forget though that friends are human beings at the end of the day, and that in certain cases like Chima’s story, it can be very tedious to be the dependable supportive friend.


We’d better gauge well before putting our hopes on people who might not have the required strength or wisdom to alleviate our burden, despite the best will in the world. Gauging well requires transparency. Misunderstanding is so easy to occur in relationships; clear communication sprinkled with a good dose of vulnerability can really help avoiding common pitfalls. And grace, the good old grace so expensive to get and give! If transparency doesn’t work, then there was no genuine friendship there to begin with…

I do believe they’re both right to feel the way they do. They might not get their friendship to where it was in the past, but might actually take it to new levels, given the painful experience around their pregnancies; Just as it is hammered to us that romantic relationships evolve, as partners can change over time, platonic relationships ie friendships can to, just for the same reason, and ever more so.

Friendship is worth the hassle; the hassle to stop, chew our ego, swallow it and try and figure out the why of an out-of-character attitude. Even the most transparent of us cannot always be open books unless they are enticed to open up. Life circumstances can differ wildly in friendships, but if the core principles and values that usually build those friendships stay put, there is reason to believe they can be unbreakable bonds.

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