One thing that bothers me severely is the concept of a conditional friendship. There are a few ways these come about, but the most common way I see is through in-law family bonds.
I think this problem is particularly bad in the South, although I’ll happily admit the only place I’m comparing it to is the West, which is where I’m from. I’ve seen in a too-large number of instances where the families of a woman, for example, would open up and accept the woman’s husband.
The level of acceptance is one of the positives of the South. It’s absolute. Come, eat our food. Take our gifts. You are family. It’s seriously a beautiful thing. It’s as if that person becomes true family, with friendships being formed nearly as strong as between those who are blood-related.
That is, until they break up.
Let me speak plainly. If a deep love or friendship between a father-in-law or mother-in-law can be revoked for life, due to a breakup between the son-in-law and the daughter, there never was a friendship to begin with. It was conditional–conditional on two people being married.
Imagine being willing to die for someone one day, and the next day they’re not welcome to eat in your home, or to call you on the phone. This is a sickening distortion of human kinship.
And let’s be clear, I’m not talking about a situation where the breakup came with extreme circumstances. I mean, if there was some sort of adultery or violence or something–it’s understandable that this could affect friendships outside of the two involved. No, I’m talking about amicable separation, where the peripheral relationships have no real reason to end other than that of convenience.
My view is that if I am a father, and my son or daughter brings a human into my house with whom I’m expected to forge a relationship with, that child does not have the right to tell me when to terminate said relationship. Again, if this person were to do something negative to my child I would have my own reasons to dislike them, but when I create a friendship–for any reason–I consider that a life bond that can only be broken by the most extreme of circumstances.
Build real friendships. Don’t let external conditions (marriage, work, or the people who subscribe heavily to those constructs) dictate when those friendships should begin or end.