Incompatible friends

There’s something I’ve noticed about people in this small town.  They gossip and talk about their friends a lot.  Certainly, talking about people behind their backs is something everyone does occasionally, and it happens everywhere, but it seems to happen a lot more here.  Most notably, people seem to talk a lot about their close friends.

I’ve seen many occasions where people who seem to be the best of friends complain severely about each other behind their backs.  I can’t help thinking, if you have a problem with her, why don’t you say it to her face?  If you think she’s so annoying, why do you spend so much time together?  But that’s it exactly: there are so few people in town that everyone is bound to be good friends with people with whom they wouldn’t be if the population were large enough to have a choice.

And that’s one of the things I like about living here.  As much as I wish there were more geeks in town, as much as I wish pot-smoking wasn’t a regular social occurrence, I find my social situation more challenging and fulfilling, in some ways, than having friends who are all similar to me.  It makes me confront things that I wouldn’t otherwise have to; it makes me consider every aspect of my personality and determine whether it is there because I want it to be, or because it’s familiar and convenient.

That doesn’t really make up for the gossiping and talking behind people’s backs, even if it does explain it.  But I’m guilty of it too.

I was just reminded of an occasion or two when I talked badly about someone who I consider to be a good friend.  Our personalities and interests are so different that I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be friends if we weren’t limited by a small population.  We’re bound to get on each other’s nerves and find each other irritating more often than friends usually do, which is why sometimes I just need to vent, and I’m sure she does too.  But I really do like this person and value our friendship a lot.  I certainly don’t think any less of her.  I suppose the complaining and talking behind friends’ backs is an inevitable part of having such incompatible, but enriching, friendships.

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