I’ve come across a lot of articles about adult friendships and it’s something that has been on my mind. Today, in Abra’s BreakThings Newsletter (which I 100% recommend. ) she linked an article from VeryWell and I realized while this has been on mind, and I’ve wanted to write about it for weeks, it was time and I was ready to share my thoughts (sharing in rash emotion would have been ad news bears and I likely would have written words out of anger and hurt that don’t serve any purpose).
I have found, that adult friendships are inevitably like seasons. Some pass like seasons in time. They’re not meant to be long term, but just kind of fade away – like one minute it’s spring and the next it’s 100 degrees and you wonder where Spring actually went. Others, to completely break my analogy, are long-lasting. They grow with us, and evolve.
I feel like I’ve been hemorrhaging friendships over the past couple of years. Some understandably, we both changed and were taking different paths in life and the friendship just faded. Some evolved into Frenemy territory that ended with us just ending the friendship, not with words but rather inaction. Never mean words said, but for a while, I harbored resentment until realizing, this was really for the best. I can still respect someone, in ways, not respect them in others, and just move on diplomatically. Others, changed because jobs changed, and we grew apart. Others, just straight-up vanished like a ghost in the night. The fading away gradually really is the worst, especially if it happens before you realize it and you’re just left wondering what the hell went wrong. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering this about previous friendships, and sometimes it’s an “it’s not you, it’s me” type thing, other times, you just gotta brush the dirt off your shoulder and let it go, Elsa.
Often times, you KNOW why friendships ended. Like you’re probably either seeing glaring red lights if it’s a frenemy situation, OR life is changing. For instance, my old playgroup – while I’m not as close with the fantastic mamas as I used to be, that’s life. I didn’t live geographically as close to them as I once did, and our kiddos all ended up at different schools. One or two of them, I still see regularly or stay in touch with, but our weekly coffee dates with babies who could barely stand up are a thing of history.
Inevitably, new people come into the fold – as I’ve been lucky enough to make some pretty fantastic friends through our son’s school and they’ve stuck with me through some pretty rough days. But, when one friendship ends, how do you replace it? How do you find people who are worthy of the little time we (especially moms, but also just working women) have? Obviously, we want relationships that enrich and fulfill us so here’s a few things that I’ve come to value and found has helped me find those sparkling friendships that you never want to let go of:
Find a common denominator – what do you have in common? Maybe a kiddos sport? An activity like running? As mamas, it’s hard to find our own interests but sometimes our kiddos activities will bring us pretty fantastic people, and sometimes it’s a matter of taking up our own thing to make way for people outside of our kids’ lives.
Find empathetic friends – You don’t need people around who don’t stick it through when you have some tough times. Last fall I was struggling a lot – my depression was rampant, work was not going well, and I introverted at a high level. Some were understanding and gave a listening ear and others, well, not so much.
Be Supportive – Be a cheerleader. When you pals have big goals, cheer them on like you’d want to be cheered on. Cheer them on – even if virtually – and be supportive of their goals, whether that’s running a marathon or stopping drinking.
Find people who give a s#!t – Stop investing energy in relationships that don’t invest in you back. Stop going out of your way for people who don’t reciprocate. A friend of mine did this with someone in her life and she felt so much better once she did. Sometimes, you don’t realize how much of an energy suck people are until they’re not in your life anymore.
I’m obviously not the expert on adult friendships so don’t take my advice as gospel by any means. But I do know that whether intentional or not, ending friendships sucks. Whether it was expected, unexpected or whether you just naturally driftec apart – it sucks. And, as I’ve learned, it’s okay to mourn those friendships. It’s okay to step back and evaluate relationships if they don’t serve you or bring you joy (such as Marie Kondo suggests we evaluate all the belongings in our life) – thank those relationships that end for what they DID bring to your life and move on gracefully and without drama.