Your Friendships Are Dissolving, and That’s Okay
“Am I letting my friendships die?”
In the six years since high school, I’ve asked myself that question a lot.
I think back to high school and college when it seemed I was always surrounded by close friends and peers. Now, almost two years into the start of my career, I see most of the same people most of the time.
Instead of being immersed in many classes, committees, and clubs, I spend most of my time in one office. Instead of chatting with roommates every night, I have one-sided conversations with my two cats and talk to them like they’re babies (at least my girlfriend is there doing the same, which makes it a little less sad).
It’s easy to feel like you’ve personally let this happen by not proactively staying in touch with people when life gets busy.
Around the holidays, the thought drums up even more guilt.
You begin to realize how many people you haven’t spoken to in over six months. So, you cram a ton of visits into your break, but no matter how efficiently you divvy up your time between friends and family, someone inevitably gets the shaft.
Before you know it, it’s been over a year since you’ve spoken with someone you used to talk to daily. Goodbye, old friendships! Hello, guilty sad feelings.
I used to let this eat me up inside until I realized…
Everyone else feels the same way.
We all feel like pieces of turd because we’re all busy and it’s impossible to make time for everyone as we go on our separate paths in life.
Plus, technology doesn’t always help.
Before the Internet, people didn’t have the option to instantly connect with friends and catch up. Think of someone you haven’t spoken with in the last six+ months.
Right this moment, you could whip out your phone and instantly send a buzzing message straight to their pants pocket, disrupting whatever it is they’re doing to converse with you. You could literally speak with them in seconds, even if they’re on the other side of the planet, and yet you haven’t shared a word with them in half a year. “Shame on you!” says your conscience.
I think this is partly the reason we all feel a little guilty about growing apart – it’s not because it’s abnormal to miss the experiences of the many people in our lives, it’s the fact that with technology, it feels like we don’t have an excuse for why we’ve missed out.
But trying to cling onto every relationship we’ve built in our lives and keep each one exactly the same as it used to be is just not realistic. You’ll only hurt yourself by trying to keep up.
Life comes in cycles, and it makes sense that people grow apart.
Nevertheless, it hurts. Humans evolved in tightly knit groups, and I think now more than ever, we have to adapt to many different groups throughout our lives.
It’s best to accept this for what it is, to cherish the deep relationships we have in our current stage of life, to be glad we have the option to reconnect with old friends so easily, to be thankful for friendships that can be rekindled even after years, and to not get too stressed out about the whole thing.
This isn’t to say you should let the busyness of life and work consume you, though.
Still strive to make time for connecting with the people in your life. I’ve started a habit of setting a monthly reminder to myself to catch up with old friends and family. When I see that reminder pop up, I’ll pick a few people I haven’t spoken with in a while and I call them or send a few texts.
If you feel like you let months slip by without rekindling old relationships, give this a try. I typically try to reserve it for weekends when I can actually devote time without feeling pulled in many different directions.
What are your thoughts?
I’m curious to see if others have strategies for keeping up with old friends. Also, I’m only 24 and I don’t have kids, so I can imagine this only gets harder. Put your thoughts in the comments!