Tuesday, June 18, 2013

On Friendship

love my darling girlfriends

I had a discussion the other day with a friend of mine about getting older, and about how one of the hardest things about aging might just be figuring out how to navigate friendships as lives change and people grow and move forward. I've thought about the idea of friendship a lot- it's a topic that's been on my mind often over the past couple of years and for good reason; I think the shift in relationships as we figure our own selves out is fascinating. 

Growing up I'm sure I was like a lot of you, always surrounded by people, busy busy busy- my friends were my world. Ups and downs, my friends were the ones I went to, vented to, made a part of my everyday life. And as I got older I started to distinguish between the different kinds of friends I had formed relationships with. There were school friends, "best" friends (a term I sorely overused), work friends, sorority friends, party friends. And one of the things I really learned over the course of 10 years in my 20s was that it's okay that not all of these groups of people are my closest friends, and really, spreading myself so thin caused me to never give 100% to anyone.

And the most recent revelation- no relationship will ever fit into a box. Just because I have an idea of how something should be, doesn't mean that it should be that way, or will be that way. The kinds of friendships I had at 16, 18, 22...those are now just not possible. I don't have the time to sit and talk on the phone for an hour, or see the people I love a few times a week. I wish I did, but when I do have a free hour so many other things need to fill it- household duties, writing, emails. And so with these life changes my friendships have changed and in turn, become redefined.

This was hard for me to understand for awhile- I used to get sad that I felt so disconnected from certain people, and often felt guilty that I wasn't being a great friend. So many things change relationships- an infinite amount of things- and part of accepting that things wouldn't always be the same was accepting that I was changing too.

It's a weird thing, growing up.

And now at 31 I have a very small handful of people I consider close friends. And that's okay. A few I talk to daily, via text or a phone call here and there. Then there are the handful I might not talk to every week or even every month, but there is never weirdness. We all accept that our lives our busy, and there is no guilt, no resentment, we are happy to spend time together when we can, and all there is is love for one another when we do get to connect. And I think this is the secret to successful friendships, at least for me- the idea of quality of quantity. Of course I mean this in the obvious sense- one great friend over five not-so-great ones- but even more so in time spent. Sure, I might only get to see a close friend once every six months, but when we do get to spend time together, that time is precious and wonderful and so full of US. Less time, but BETTER time.

So that's what friendship is for me right now. Making the most of what we have. Trying to do the best we can, and when we do get to connect, making sure that time is of the best quality. Accepting this, and each other, for the very separate lives we all lead, and knowing that just because we aren't able to see each other as much as we'd like doesn't mean that it has to change the way we feel.

Whatever your age, where are you at right now in your friendships? Do you have a ton of solid pals you can count on for everything? Or a handful of close friends? Are you in yours 20s or 30s? How has friendship changed for you over time?

So many questions. Can't wait to read about your experiences.

xo


37 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree more. Friendship changes so much after children, too. I just had my first 3 months ago, and although I have a group of wonderful girlfriends, it changes things with some of them. Great article!

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    1. I totally agree! Not only do the friendships change, the priorities too! Friends who can understand this, especially when they are childless, are very rare.

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  2. As soon as I saw you post this on facebook, I knew I had to read it right away. You couldn't be more right. I am 25 and have two kids, and I can count my friends on one hand- and I've never been happier. 2 of my friends live hundreds of miles away but when we spend time together, it is great and REAL.
    Thank you for writing about this. I feel like people that are not in our chapter of life (raising kids, juggling a career, taking care of our house, spending time with our husbands) don't really get it. And we suffer from that whether it be gossip or the loss of the friendship. And I don't have time for that anymore. But you know what? I'm totally okay with that. I have what makes me happy, I know my purpose in life.

    Thanks again, Danielle.

    xo
    Robin

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  3. I am going through the sadness and disconnect right now. I am 28 years old, married with a 6 month old. I have known my "best friends" for over half of my life. They are a group of boys that have saved my life several times and have always been there for me. As we got older I noticed myself becoming closer to their girlfriends and the boys got closer to my (now) husband. A lot of them aren't married and do not have kids. They still go out to bars all the time and I am obviously not in that stage of my life anymore. Sometimes I get really depressed because 2 of my girlfriends in that group just had babies and I'll see pictures on facebook or instagram of them all hanging out with the babies. We never get invited to things anymore and I've actually stopped following a lot of my friends on facebook because I couldn't stand crying about it every day. I don't know anyone in our area.. I feel like I've lost all my friends. It's a really hard age :(
    Thank you for sharing
    xo

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  4. Long time lurker, but this post really striked a chord so here I am, finally writing something ;) I am only 22, but I also feel a shift regarding my friendships. I have a wonderful group of (girl)friends and we are still in contact, even now that we all started university, moved to different towns etc. but from time to time it is very hard on me that opportunities to get together and chat like in the "old days" are getting rare... I always feel I need to work harder for those relationships, even if my day to day life exhausts me more often than I would like to admit. I still need to learn that it is okay to let go of some things in exchange for something new but no less great. thank you for your wonderful words!

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  5. I'm only 25, but it seems like every year that goes by, the more I move away from friendships that aren't a positive impact on my life and focus more on the friendship I have with myself. It causes a lot of old friends to see me as a flake, or a shitty friend, but I don't want to be brought down and SO many of my friendships were doing just that. The older I get, the more important it is to surround myself with positivity and if that means spending most of my time with my dog, husband, sisters and babies, that's enough for me. I think there's something great about realizing your own company is a wonderful thing to be in, and the true friends will always be there no matter what phase of your life you're in.

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  6. I L-O-V-E this post, I've spent so much time recently thinking about friendships and about how they aren't the same friendships I had so many years ago. I miss my adolescent friendships and haven't really grown into an understanding of my adult friendships (even though I am 36)as they are so different. I recently moved to a new city and started a work from home job so I don't have any "friends" that I see or talk to everyday or a way to make any really. So friendship has definitely been on my mind. Your post today is very insightful and hit the mark perfectly!

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  7. I think as you get older, you realise your friendships require maintenance and work just as much as romantic relationships.
    I'm a family gal and put a lot of time into my relationship with them, with a handful of extremely close friends. I'm about to move 500 miles away from all of them so I'll have to learn how to make friends all over again! x

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  8. I just cried reading this. I am at the same crossroads having just had my second child and about to turn 30. I cry because when you realize that what you are feeling is common, it is like an invisible hug. It was a hug and a read that I so needed. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. This is insane...the 2nd blog post I have read today about the quality of friendships! I, too, have gone through this very same thing! Never thought at 30 would I have to come to such a huge realization that some people had to be cut out of my life for me to be happy! I always thought, 'make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver, while the other's gold'...I figured you just keep all of them! But, it's not about the amount of friends or who has been there the longest, it's about who has stuck by you during your most worst of times! I learned this the hard way! I had to make a decision, as hard as it was, I did and I've been much happier! The memories are what make it difficult, not necessarily the person.

    Great post!!

    http://thetickledglitter1.blogspot.com

    HUGS - Jen

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  10. This is spot on. The same thing happened to me. I think it's good actually. That close group of friends that stick with you through the years, those are the ones that really matter.

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  11. I have this same thing happening to me! Sometimes it's hard to balance everyone. It's funny too because now that my friends are having kids, I find myself wanting to spend more time with them to get to know their kids rather than other things that might come my way. Priorities shifting!

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  12. I think my quality friendships are even more important to me now at 30 than they were at 16. In those younger years, emotions are so fickle and anything can cause a rift. The friendships I value most are the ones that made it through marriage and babies because, boy, do those life events change the way you relate to other people, especially if your friends do not go through them at the same time. My close girlfriends meet a very real emotional need, and I can tell when we haven't had a girls' dinner in a while. Love your reflective posts. :-)

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  13. Man, your words really spoke to me. About a month after graduating college, I moved with my boyfriend (now husband) across the country to start doing campaign work. We worked 100+ hours a week for a few years, moved to five states within three years and I lost all ties with all my friends because I was so far away and so busy.

    I now have a lot of regret and pain for losing such good friends because I now work from home full-time and besides my husband and mom, don't really talk to a lot of people or have friends. I basically burned all my bridges a few years ago and now have a life that doesn't really allow for friendships to be made.

    As we get older, friendships are harder to create. Once I make friends again, I will be sure to cherish them and try to do the work to maintain them.

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  14. We've moved every 2-3 years since I was 18, so I keep 2-3 close friends that are spread around the country, but every one else is temporary.

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  15. Interesting post. I feel as though as I enter my late twenties some friendships are drifting apart. It's hard because I love them, but when it's friendships that have been there for more than 10 years, people change a lot. I sometimes find it hard to keep renewing them, y'know? I sometimes feel like I am such a different person to them. On the other hand, I find it hard to make new friends. I have pals at work, but it's not the same. Saying all of this, I do have a handful of close friends and I can't see us not being friends. I love the friends who you may not see for months on end and then it's just the same again when you see them. I suppose that is true friendship and connections!

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  16. something i've noticed is that it seems to be much much harder to MAKE friends in your late 20s, especially when you have children. we recently moved hundreds of miles from our families and home town, to a city where we don't know anyone, and although we've gotten involved at church and preschool groups, it seems like most women my age already have their "circles" of friends and aren't interested in trying to make new ones. it's discouraging, but makes me rethink my own social behavior, as i wonder if i was like that with my own circle of friends in my hometown. if so, i don't want to be that way anymore! i've also realized that the friends that i do have were all made before i had children, and there's only a very precious few who i know will always be my friends even with life changes and long distances separating us. true friends are as precious as gold!

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  17. Hey Danielle, I'm a new follower and oh am I glad I found your blog. I'm dying for good heartfelt content, and it's hard to find. Glad I found you and This blog.

    I don't have a lot of friends. Period. There I said it. It isn't easy and at times my fiance is probably like "That is weird" but I don't care. I have a few CLOSE friends that I've known my entire life. It is SO HARD to maintain friendships...good friendships that when you get hurt or life events happen, sometimes you just can't put forth the effort in more "friends" especially when you get married or have a baby. It's just not possible and I understand about stretching yourself thin among many groups. It becomes overwhelming.

    I enjoyed this post.

    Ginny
    www.buttergirldiaries.com

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  18. I've gone through a few of these cycles with friendships and now that I'm looking at it all from the other side of 40, I recognize the value of truly being present (and grateful) for the circle I have, regardless of how small it may appear to be to others.

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  19. My husband and I can't seem to make friends, to be honest.
    That makes us sound terrifying but...
    We were together in high school. And after we got closer, I stopped caring to hang out with my "friends" that I felt put me down, and his friends stopped hanging out with him because he preferred to spend his time with me.
    Now, I'm only twenty-two but we've been together almost eight years.
    Most of those "friends" have gone on to live completely different lives than us, and that's fine because we don't think we'd want to be friends with them, now.
    But sometimes we do wish that we had friends.
    I recently started keeping in touch with a girl that I got along with in high school. We were never friends in school and she's actually moving an hour away soon, but... what do you do?
    But other than that, we have no friends. My parents are about as close as we come.
    To be fair, my husband works 50 hours a week and we have a three-year-old son.
    We're weird by general standards. Tattooed, pierced, Wiccan, vegan...
    I don't know, it kind of bums me out to think about it.
    Though I definitely would prefer to be with my family, one hundred percent! Sometimes my husband and I would love a game night with some friends or something.
    Blargh.

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  20. This post has such good timing for me. I've been bummed out lately about my friend situation since I recently moved to the Bay Area with my love and left many of my lifetime besties back in New England! Similarly to what you were saying, in some of these friendships we regularly keep in touch, while in some of them we're comfortable to reconnect when the time is right but stay distant until then. I keep figuring I'll make some new "best friends", but part of me also knows that my friendships and what I expect of them may never be the same, and that's okay, too. As long as I have a handful of females I can call to have a drink and blow off some steam at any moment (which I do!), and a couple of best friends who support me regardless of location, I know I can count myself as lucky!

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  21. i've been thinking about this a lot recently. since graduating college, i've moved three times and the longest i've stayed in a place is a year. and we're probably moving again in a few months. it's hard to cultivate new friendships and keep old ones when you're always on the move. i can count on one hand the good friends i have. i may not talk to them every day, but i know when we do, there's never any awkwardness. it's like no time has passed. i wish i had better friends, more friends, closer friends, but i'm not a good friend maker. it's always been easy living in the same place with the same people for over twenty years. and now... well, hopefully the next time we move it will be the last and i'll make some lasting good friendships. *fingers crossed*

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  22. I've had a tough time navigating friendship these days. I go months and months without talking to my friends, so things get strange between us. Not bad or tense, exactly, just strange. I'm a homebody/hermit, and going out isn't fun for me. I was really social in college, hanging out with friends and going to fun parties and events all the time. But the older I get (almost 31), the more I prefer to stay at home and watch TV or read a good book. I prefer to work and then come home. I like nights in, eating in, etc. I know it makes me a little odd, but I don't care.

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  23. Hello! I just stumbled across your blog on bloglovin and this is truly the perfect post for where I am in life right now! Lately I've been feeling a tiny shift in friendships - moving away from a big group of girls I hung around with in my single / wild days, which I'm OK to let go of, but also worrying that I am not quite synched up with my closer friends too - that our interests no longer match up. But I'm realizing that while we might not still love the same Saturday nights out, we have deep connections, many shared expriences and other interests...and we're just evolving to something a little different, a little more mature. I hope anyway! Your words were so comforting, and I love reading everyone else's experiences. Now! Off to read the rest of your blog- what a find!
    xx Liz

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  24. This post is incredible! I too have struggled with the change in friendships as I get older. It's such a strange transition and I often feel uneasy about it. I need to accept what they are and realize that it's not going to be the same as in high school. I love that you wrote it all out, I think you totally nailed it!

    Level20Wife.com

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  25. This was a very timely post for me. I feel like I've gone through the same transformations and now, at almost 27, am realizing that it's *okay* not to be the 'perfect' friend.

    Wonderfully written!

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  26. I am blessed to have a few close friends. I am 48 and we are moving towards the empty phase of life. It's great to have each other.

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  27. I'm in my 20s. In high school I had four best friends - one of them has evolved to be my best friend (a term which I also sometimes use too loosely, but in this case it's absolutely true), one of whom we accept that we're both crazy busy and see each other as much as possible when we can, one of whom got married and drove across the country after graduating from college that I talk to once a month, and one of whom I actually don't talk to much at all. That was a really hard transition for me. In college I didn't make too many really great friends - just a whole bunch of acquaintances. I have a lot of really great friends right now - all in different groups of people and I love them all to death, but I'm still missing the kinds of friends I had in high school and I need to figure out how to fill that gap - whether it be with different new friends or an activity. Finding friends has definitely gotten harder as time has gone on, but I've been lucky to solidify some of the relationships that I've made over time to become something great. I've also realized that your good friends have a lot to do with the moment you're living in, and your great friends are the ones that stick around after that moment is over. As for your best friends, they're the ones who have been there through it all - or understand what your "through it all" is. This is essentially turning into a comment blog post lol, sorry about that. Clearly, I'm definitely on the same path as you in thinking about this a lot. Thanks for sharing, I actually sent your post to a friend of mine who has been thinking the same questions. Have a great day!

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  28. I will be 25 in a few months, and it's crazy for me think about how much my relationships have changed in the past 10 years. My mom has become my best friend, which sounds kind of sad, but it's true, haha! I have a fairly young mom, and, for a while, it was just she and I, so we have a super strong connection. Now, I get to give her advice and listen to her vent about her problems, and I'm so happy I get to be that kind of a friend to her now. As for my girlfriends, there are four that I have known since middle school or earlier, and a couple I met in college that I'm close with. I used to consider one of longtime friends my "best friend", but a lot has changed since high school when we went off to different colleges and molded into different crowds. At this point, I wouldn't consider any of them my one "best friend" above all others. I just simply talk to some a little more often than others, but when we get together, it feels like no time has past and the bond is as strong as it's always been. I like that months can go by, and it doesn't really affect us.

    Sorry for the paragraph response! I might have to write my own blog post on this subject!

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  29. i am 31 as well... and have a small group of 3 close friends. one lives an hour away, one lives 3 hours away and the other is about 5 hours away. some of us manage to meet up here and there on a regular basis, but we all understand how life can get. But we text all the time. It's crazy to think just how much time we all spend with our closest friends in our early 20s! i can't imagine seeing so many friends on a daily basis now haha. being married, working and living out side the city is everyday life now, and special nights of girl time are fun to look forward to every so often

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  30. also.... when it comes to those long term friends i stop and think... if i just met this person would we become friends NOW ? or are you friends just because you've been friends for so long. but then if you think about it you'll usually see why they've stayed a friend for so long

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  31. Oh gosh, I've been thinking about this SO much lately. I'm in my 20s, my husband is 10 years older than me, so most of my friends are older than me. I just had a baby and I've moved a lot over the past few years (college, overseas to a couple different countries, etc). All of this has led to some interesting friendship dynamics. Right now I have some awesome, super close friends, we're all expats in Kyrgyzstan, but we all have different plans for leaving within the next year or so. Will we stay close? Will we visit each other in the US, England, Belgium, etc? Or will we just have these memories to remember each other by? Also, I do my best to keep up with friendships from the past, high school and college, but it's tough to do over a long distance, when I only see them in person once a year (or less!). Definitely tough. It's so rewarding to have the opportunity to meet new people and forge these new relationships, but so hard figuring out how to make them work over such obstacles.

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  32. Love this post! It is a weird transition from the days when friends were your life, now the important ones are a special part of your life.

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  33. I'm sorry, but this is going to be a LONG comment. I really needed to hear someone say this about friendships. Mine has been pretty rough lately and I just haven't known what step to take next. My best friend and I are both 28 and have been close since a few years after high school. We've always had our ups and downs, but we get each other. I recently graduated college and a week after she blows up on me without warning. I chose everything I said carefully and tried my best to understand. I apoligized numerous times but was getting nowhere. I felt such a huge cloud of guilt hovering over me for basically being myself. It's a long ridiculous story and I honestly don't understand a lot of it still. She said a few words that really punched me in the gut. "You've changed, I don't know how to relate to you anymore." I usually try very very hard to brush things off, but those words really hurt. She apoligized, but something just still doesn't feel right. Any words of wisdom?

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  34. I know exactly how you feel. Friends come and go with different phases in your life but it's still nice to have the select few that make it through the different phases with you. I'm in the military and most of my "pre-military" friends have long gone. I find its easier to make friends if you can relate to life situations. I'm always thankful for the friends I do have that don't care how long its been since we've physically seen each other or chatted. We all are adults and understand that we get busy, because honestly, who need the "friend" that will guilt you or chide you for not calling?

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  35. all of the above i could have written myself. i experience the guilt for a while but it just eats at you....and it wasnt always a feeling shared by the other person, you know? It upset me at first but then I figured out that they had got to this place before me, acceptance, so I joined them. My friendships are what they are, most have changed but none of them arent valued. Thanks for the reminder....

    louise x

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  36. I moved to the other side of the world. Thanks to the internet I still feel like I'm close to my friends at home, but after 4 years I still struggle to find close friends. And things will change even more when we have children.

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