“Make New Friends…But Keep the Old”


Unless it makes more sense to drop them (old friends, that is.)

Shakespeare Said It BestpoloniuszzzThose friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch’d, unfledged comrade

From Hamlet…”Polonius’s Advice to His Son”

In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” Polonius tells his son the importance of long-term, tested friends and why one should never dispose of them easily.

The opposite of that good advice seems to function these days, however, as some folks topple decades-long friendships due to silly misunderstandings. And they appear to do so without batting an eye.

I personally lost a many-year friendship without my friend even attempting to bridge the gulf . She merely quit. I floundered in the dark for a while and tried to reach out—to no avail.

It happened some years back when I was in the real estate business. She asked me to help her 26-year-old son buy a bar, but since I don’t work with commercial property, I connected her son with a colleague who has commercial property experience.  He’d act as the son’s buying agent, a sweet scenario since that realtor’s fee generally comes out of the selling realtor’s commission, meaning the buyer pays nothing.

In their time together, my realtor friend visited the bar with this young man; he’d put him into a purchase & sale contract, but then, the young man began to work alone with the seller’s agent.

I asked my friend if there’d been a problem and she answered:  “Yeah, your realtor friend did nothing, so Jimmy decided to go it alone (with seller’s agent.)”  I told her that her son’s working solo could be dangerous for him:  Buying commercial property is notoriously risky (city records do not reflect true legal status.) I suggested purchase of a bar is tricky, as one must discover whether the liquor license conveys.  Finally, there are all those inspection issues that need be negotiated. A realtor knows the code of expectations.

What happened?  My friend exploded, saying:  “My son isn’t stupid….He knows what he’s doing.” Now, I’d never suggested that.  I merely confirmed the obvious: The fiduciary (legal loyalty) responsibility of seller agent lies with the seller…not the buyer. Then, too, an unscrupulous seller’s agent would love a situation where he didn’t have to split the commission (as they have to do in most cases.) But the buyer should realize:  He’s got little protection in that situation.

Bottom line?  The incident became our Waterloo. Gone were the shared hilarity of childhood memories…the commiserating as single parents (she and I were the original working Mom’s, raising kids, alone.) I’d attended concerts she was in, over the years (she’s a musician), I helped her move—twice.

Yet, now, our friendship was over.

If I’m honest, I should have seen the warning signs:  She’d cut off other friends, for little discernible reason, in years prior. Then, too, she got increasingly agitated when I mentioned the most-innocuous topics: I told her fellow URI alum Christiane Amanpour was hosting a program about major world religions on CNN, but she shut me down…didn’t even want to hear Amanpour’s name.  Why? She felt her too left-leaning. It appeared the subjects of our conversations were becoming increasingly-limited.

In the end, it was obvious:  She never took Shakespeare’s words to heart:

Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;

It’s never easy replacing long-term, committed friends.  Oh, sure, in life there are some you’ll kick to the curb but to allow a long-term friendship to flounder on the rocks, due to some silly misunderstanding is sheer lunacy.

Good friendships take too long to develop…One should never cast them aside easily.

But there are those times, too, when it’s painfully clear:  You must move on.  Perhaps your friend wasn’t the caliber you thought.  Sometimes, too,  you outgrow a friendship.

My question:  Have you had a friendship that ended, leaving you in the dark?

In the words of an Asheville friend on this subject:  “Sometimes you’ve just got to weed your garden (of friends).”  I like that, for “weeding” allows you to take out those who choke.  By removing them, you allow the rest to breathe and grow.  What do you think? Done your own garden-weeding lately?

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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