When you are young, making friends feels effortless.
You settle into quick friendships with the girl who sits next to you in class, the kid who always has the pudding cups in his lunch. You don't really have to work at it, because there seems to always be people who like you right there, eager to hang out and become your new BFF.
But when was the last time you made a new friend? A real, true friend who withstood the test of time and life complications? Someone who you really, truly love -- not just someone to gripe and moan with at the office Keurig, but who will be there for you in a snap, who you can call at anytime, and who can call you at 3am? That person who you feel, no matter what, will always be there for you?
I've experienced a pretty difficult situation in the last couple of years. It has been the hardest one of my life. This has been a couple of years that have seen a lot of changing relationships, and lost ones. And I discovered, as I pick up the pieces and try to move on, that as you reach your thirties, it gets increasingly difficult to make true and lasting friends. Why is that?
We just don't have the time anymore.
Sure, we thought we had it rough in high school and college -- but in retrospect, that was all youthful naiveté. Many of us now work ceaseless hours and while we may have many people we love spending time with, we all too often just don't have the time to spend. It's hard enough to maintain ties with our dearest friends. Do we have time to add new ones to the mix?
We've solidified our identities.
If you think about it, as we grow up, the friends we have are a crucial part of the person we develop into. Our friendships determine who we are in a lot of ways we don't even realize. But as we get older, we sort of already know who are and it gets harder. We now need to cultivate relationships that are compatible with our own inherent self. They don't need to be just like us, but they do need to be someone that doesn't leave us wanting to rip our hair out either. Because, as said above, who has time for that?
Friendships are a lot like dating.
I've actually heard of people being set up on "friendship blind dates" -- lady dates where you would meet a new potential friend for dinner or a movie. For some, it has worked really well.
For me, I am unsure how I'd personally fare at something like that. If dating itself so often feels like a job interview, imagine having to interview for an entirely new social circle...
Now that I'm in a new city, finding new friends seems so difficult.I
know most of you have been influenced by someone to read "The 5 Love
Languages," or at least to take the quiz. I, too, have been bitten by
that bug. However, I have yet to find the "friendship love language"
can honestly say that my marriage love language & my friendship
love language are completely different. In my marriage, my love
languages are words of affirmation & touch. In friendship?
Teasing. Sarcasm. Possibly violence. I know that isn't exactly the most positive expression of love, but it's me. Because
of this quality, I have been known to recite a friendship disclaimer to
newcomers. If you haven't heard it yet, you should be educated so as
to not offend you in the future. It usually goes something like this:
If we're going to be close friends, you should be aware of something. I
tend to show affection through sarcasm and teasing. If I really meant
the things I say, I wouldn't be saying them. Honestly, I like to avoid
confrontation. So, don't be offended or take me seriously. If I give
you a hard time, it means I like you. If I offend you, please tell me
so I can correct it. Deal?"
Maybe I can make a contract...
People show you who they really are (and you may not like it).
When we were kids, the worst thing that ever happened in friendships would be that my fifth grade BFF would start sitting with someone else at lunch. It felt tragic at the time, but by the next day, I had a new BFF. It was easy then. Now, when we make and lose friends, the parameters feel a lot larger -- it's very much like a breakup, possibly even a death. There are so many different types of friendship breakups. The people who say they will be there for you, and then ultimately aren't. The people who were friends with you and your ex, but now that you are no longer a couple, choose sides and you're left out in the cold. The people who get married or have babies and suddenly just aren't as available as they once were. And, there's the most common type of friendship end in your 30s -- the ones that drift apart. You simply have different interests now, and nothing left to talk about. As I said, it's kind of like a divorce, and just as hard to come back from.
Even with tons of friends, life can be lonely. Especially if these friends are long distance, or people you predominantly chat with on the Internet. No tweet can hug you when you are sad. No email can give you someone to meet for an impromptu girls night out when you've had a bad day.
My Mishell lives in California, but always finds time to call. Love that chick!
My "squad" from California. We now all live in different states. I miss them so too too much.
My California newspaper girls -- Lauren & Maggie. Our adventures cannot be matched.
Danielle & I bonded over our immense love for jumping pictures while I lived in California. Miss her!!
This has been an incredibly hard two years for me, one where a lot of friendships have simply disappeared. And I've discovered that maybe, as you get older, it's not the same anymore. You don't need to have loads of friends. You need to have a few really good ones. And when you manage to have that -- and, praise the Lord, I do -- treat them like the gold they are. You'll never have a more precious asset. And, as you may have noticed, they aren't so easy to replace.