A month ago, nine of us got together for a languid, late afternoon catch up. These people that I saw on that Saturday, in the confines of a comfortable coffee shop, these people are what I call the cozy breath of home. Friendships that mean more than just people catching up.

I’d known them for 23 years. For many of us, that’s a lifetime.

I’ve transitioned through a very odd phase of my life in the last 6 years. Ever since I took up blogging as more than just a hobby, the online space grew to be my world.

Working from home meant that I’d never have to go too far to find a person to talk to. They were always there on the other side of a screen, waiting to like a status update or a picture I’d shared. Maybe drop a comment on a note or a poem I’d written.

And that was it. They were like spectral apparitions, who appeared and disappeared when the time was right. They never lingered long enough to ask the real questions behind the funny status updates. Well, most of them anyway.

It was easy, this form of friendship. It demanded very little and took up hardly any space.

But the friends I saw on that day in early February reminded me that I was capable of forging deep, meaningful relationships with people.

The kind of connections that meant staying over at a classmate’s home to finish a journalism project on time.

Or the kind where they’d come over to keep me from harming myself when I was battling hallucinations during my clinical depression phase.

Or the kind where you’d sit in silence, holding each other, as one friend grieved the loss of a parent.

Words didn’t have to be spoken in these relationships. We didn’t have to connect with each other daily online. In fact, most of us don’t.

We meet once in 3 or 6 or 9 months and catch up with all the news that we’ve missed since we met last.

And I would have ended this post here, on the apparent notion that offline friendships mean more than the ones online, but that’s only half the truth.

Because, even though I haven’t forged as many deep friendships online as I have offline, there have been some that have stood the test of time- and the barriers erected by social media.

There is that friend who is the first person I message whenever something exciting happens in my life. She lives 9000 miles away and I met her online when I was looking for schools for my daughter back in 2011. A friendship I consider one of my fiercest, strongest and most incredibly unconditional, that words cannot do it justice, although I did try once.

Then there are those 3 friends I have never met in person but who know pretty much everything that happens in my life, because they take the effort to reach out regularly. And the fact that they live in 3 different parts of the world makes no difference. They love me as though they’ve known me since childhood.

Or what about those friends whom I met online and then met offline a number of times, each time learning that a friendship is not defined by geography, similar interests or even the same mindset, but by being respectful of one another’s points of view?

So it isn’t about how long I’ve known someone or how effortlessly they align with my wavelength that determines a friendship.

And it is with some grace and gratitude that I learnt a very important thing: A friendship that survives is the only kind of friendship that truly matters.


*On the beauty of online friendships, you must read this eloquent piece by one of my favourite writers. 

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16 thoughts on “Friendships that survive

  1. I needed to hear this. I am done belittled by people in my real world for all the online friends I have because I do not meet them or speak to them regularly over phone call. Despite the fact that I have been staying away from our home country for a while now, somehow these online friendships do not cut out as a real relationship. I have given up trying to explain.

    So thank you for writing this piece.
    Gayathri recently penned this post Flyaway Friday: Books that will take you to NetherlandsMy Profile

    1. Nobody should belittle you for the friends you have. And if they do, then it’s not worth listening to them. A friend is a friend is a friend. I’m glad this post resonated with you.

  2. I loved the note on which you ended your post. Truly, a friendship that survives is the only one that matters. It feels wonderful to have friends who have known you for a long time. They know your quirks even though you may not be aware of it. It’s a special connection, a special kind of relationship that’s hard to describe. All you feel is warmth and fuzzy feelings when you see them after a while.
    So wonderful to read about your friends Shailaja.
    Rajlakshmi recently penned this post Melt in a sighMy Profile

  3. Oh now I’m blushing. And my best friend is someone I knew “face to face” but didn’t really connect with until we started talking online, and now we’re *both* on and offline friends 🙂

  4. “Friendships that survive, are the only friendships that matter.”

    So true in today’s context, where people have less patience and less time to invest in meaningful connections.

    I have now realised that with some friendships you know from the very start that they were and are always meant to be. And with some you know…or not!

    Thanks for this post Shy.
    Big hugs. <3
    Natasha recently penned this post A Divine Morning at Bangla Saheb: A Long Lost Wish Comes TrueMy Profile

    1. I don’t think it’s about people not having the patience for relationships. It’s about not finding the right circumstances to stay in touch. And that’s okay, really. Some will stay and some won’t. That’s as it should be.

  5. How beautiful is this Shailaja. You’re right it is often friendships of our childhood that remain the strongest and the last the longest. It is really hard to form those kind of friendships later in life because these people have known you when we were at our rawest, when we didn’t have anything to prove to anyone. Like you I have some of those too and we usually connect when one of us needs help or has to share something big and it’s like we never left off.
    That said I am ever grateful for the online friendships too. They may not run really deep but these are the ones that bring me my daily smile, the ones that pull me out of my rut. Living, as I do, in a city that isn’t my hometown, many of my friends aren’t ones I’ve known very long but they are the ones who I reach out to when in immediate need of a friend.
    Obsessivemom recently penned this post A Bookish February #GratitudeCircleMy Profile

    1. Hugs and I’m so glad you could relate. I’ve also found that when I keep my expectations different for different people, I’m less likely to be disappointed. Maybe that makes a difference.

  6. To me, there is very little difference between an online and an offline friendship. I didn’t realise this till I lost a friend to a long illness, a friend I’d never met in person, but for whom I grieved for months, years, still do on occasion. Some of my friends I’ve known since childhood, others since college, and I keep up with them on social media and via calls…

    It was lovely to meet you and Gy (twice) on my trip to India last year!

  7. Agree to what you have said shailaja… there are a few friends offline, who will always remain dear to me. We have known each other for years and yet when we meet we are at ease and have the best of time.

    With regards to my online world, thanks to blogging, there are a number of friends I have made. A few though have moved on to become best of buddies and we have moved beyond the spectrum of online communication and meet and regularly interact over phone.

    I am glad this happened to me, for living in a cantonment can often cut you off from a lot of things.

    I don’t put status messages or share much of my life online, yet these few who have grown friendly by just reading my posts, reach out by giving me a call. It’s a blissful feeling. 😊

    1. I know exactly what that feels like. Even though I live in a bustling city, the place I stay in is a fairly remote corner. And I don’t find my vibe among my neighbours. Nothing wrong, except that I can’t have deep abiding conversations with those people. So I turn to my online best friends who are a phone call or WhatsApp chat away and my heart is forever made better by those sessions. So pleased that you’ve found your tribe too.

  8. Very well said, Shailaja! BTW I know which category I belong to above. 😝.

    The other day I was meeting my MBA batch’mate and close friend who was in Bangalore from London. I remember telling the sons that we are thick though we may call each other only twice a year. He said that is not being a close friend. My friend explained that the bond is such that she can pick up a phone and just drop home or is she needs something she knows I will do my best for her. That is friendship for me as well.

    The one that has survived. Some stood the test of time and others are getting there.

    So happy for all the beautiful friendships in your life!

    1. You technically fall into more than one category, Rachna. 😉 I am truly blessed that I’ve made some good friends. I’ve also been burnt though so I’m very wary and probably wiser now that I know what happens both online and offline. Hugs.

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