Friendships change. People change. Friends sometimes grow apart. You may have tried to stay in touch with high school friends only to find that you're not really close to those people anymore.
I've been there. I wanted so badly to hold onto all of my friends because I cared about them and didn't want to say goodbye. But as time went by, we grew further and further apart, and eventually, we just stopped being involved in each other's lives.
This is the third installment of a new series here on the blog called Figuring Out Friendship. We're going to explore finding your people, embracing awkward beginnings, accepting change, and things you can do to strengthen old friendships as well as build new ones. Stay tuned for the rest of the series, catch up on the first post, second post, and don't forget to get your copy of 60 Ways to Create Strong Friendships!
I should have known it was coming-- nearly everyone told me I wouldn't stay friends with my high school friends. I just didn't want to believe them. But it's not all bad!
Saying those goodbyes paved the way for some hellos to some truly wonderful friends I wouldn't have had the time or space for if I hadn't first let go.
Growing up sometimes means letting go. But sometimes it just means adapting to a different type of friendship.
How to Know When to Let Go
Evaluate your friendship. Is it good or bad, healthy or unhealthy?
Are you both in it for the long haul, or is it more of a seasonal friendship, made to last just through a specific stage of life?
Are you and your friend able to pick up where you left off when you get together after a long separation, or is there stilted awkward conversation? I've noticed that there are some friends with whom I can have an authentic, deep conversation regardless of how long it's been since I saw them last. On the flip side, there are also friends who I can't talk to as easily anymore, now that time and distance have separated us. It's nice to bump into them once in a while, but I'm not going to turn to them when things get tough. And that's okay. Each friendship has its own strengths and weaknesses, and some are closer than others. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as both individuals are on the same page.
Each friendship has its own strengths and weaknesses, and some are closer than others. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as both individuals are on the same page.
How to Adapt to Changes
Sometimes you don't need to say goodbye and let go of a friendship. Sometimes you just need to accept that friendships change, and you may not be as close as you once were or see each other as often as you'd like, but you can still get coffee and stay in touch or be a part of a community group.
I have friends that I've known for ages, and as we get older, our friendships have morphed and changed along with us. Some of them have moved, gotten married, or had kids. Those things have caused the nature of our friendships to change, but they haven't put an end to them. We've simply had to learn how to communicate across greater distances, stay in touch when we don't get together as often, or find new things to do that accommodate husbands and kids.
How have your friendships changed over the years? Have you found a secret to adapting well to the changes? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!