What Kate From Lizzie McGuire Taught Me About Friendship

Kate Sanders. Bra wearer. Deliverer of epic one-line burns. Noticer of repeated outfits. Diva.

kate-sanders

Lots of girls have a friendship like Lizzie and Kate’s: one that goes sour when one person becomes “cool” and one… doesn’t. But when Miranda, Gordo and Lizzie get into a three-way fight, it’s Kate who dishes up the advice that reunites them. Although, to be fair, it was only because Kate was paired up with Gordo on a school project that she spoke to him.

“OK, if you ever repeat this I will D-E-N-Y-deny, but you kind of have something I want. I may be the most popular girl in the universe – actually I am – but I don’t have friends like Lizzie and Miranda… Gordo, friends like those are harder to find than jeans that fit right!”

And, as anyone who has ever tried on pair after pair of jeans and still not found the right pair can attest, she’s right.

If you’ve read my Huffington Post piece, “How to Unfriend Someone in Real Life,” you know that I’m not afraid to end a friendship when necessary. But it’s difficult and stressful, especially when you know how hard it can be to find someone who gets you, who shares the same interests, who you want to spend time with.

It was this fear that kept me from ending another friendship, or even speaking up when the friend did things that upset me, for a long time. I think it came down to being afraid of picking a fight. I’ve been in fights with two of my closest friends. One fight resulted in us not speaking for three years, and the other for several months. Thankfully, I made up with both friends, even though I was prepared to accept that I might not.

I accept that a large part of the blame for this most recent unfriending is mine. For not wanting to ruin a weekend visit by complaining when the friend left me to wait for an hour at the train station in the summer heat. For not wanting to sound ungrateful for a birthday gift by pointing out that the “Juicy Couture” necklace thrown in a shopping bag wasn’t real. For not wanting to seem argumentative when the friend invited two boys over and hooked up with both of them. For the sake of the friendship, I had let all of these things slide.

I told myself that we were growing apart, entering different phases of life, facing our own challenges, and that was okay. I forgave, but I didn’t forget. And slowly, my grievances started to chip away at the foundation of a friendship I once thought was unshakable. And, probably because I never said anything, the slights grew worse with time. A missed birthday party. Canceled plans. Until finally, I stopped making up excuses for my friend.

After weeks of promises, a cheap Christmas gift arrived in mid-January, several weeks after I had sent a nice one. I polled everyone I knew to make sure I wasn’t crazy for being annoyed. Even the three wise men managed to make it to Bethlehem by January 6th. I said it was about the gift, but it wasn’t. It was the message behind it that I had already gotten, over and over, that I didn’t matter. And that’s pretty much what I said, which, as you can imagine, didn’t go over too well.

Recently, author Jean Hanff Korelitz published a piece about ending a nearly 30-year friendship, and how painful it was, and reading it assured me that I made the right decision.

“Sometimes, old friends and family members ask me if I miss Molly, and the answer is yes, I miss her very much. But I don’t miss the friendship. I don’t miss the friendship at all.”

Luckily, my life is far from a series of dramatic un-friendings. Over the past year or so, the gap in my metaphorical Top 8 has been filled with two fantastic new friends. It’s easier to develop new friendships when you aren’t putting effort into the one-sided ones. Last year, one of my new friends took me out to lunch for my birthday, and I remember thinking that this lunch, this hour spent hanging out and laughing, was the best gift.

Like jeans that fit right.

 

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