I hate seeing good-hearted people lose friends and think something is wrong with them. Do you keep losing friends and wonder why? Odds are, it has less to do with you and more to do with them and what’s going on in their lives. The key is to train yourself to distinguish what kind of friends you have so you can open space for those who are around for the long haul.
Growing up, I never really had friends. I’ve pretty much always found comfort in flying solo. I’d keep to myself during sports (even team ones), do my homework in the library at lunchtime, and only open up to a few whom I had deemed worthy of my time (which usually involved a boyfriend).
But I had one childhood friend, and we spent our days together doing memorable (and usually stupid) stuff. It was what made my childhood worth talking about. She was generally at the epicenter of any funny experience…or near-death encounter, and that friendship was so solid that it withstood fights, hurt feelings, and even the occasional face slap. But she was it for me; I didn’t need more friends. I was never one who had a posse of girls wanting to hang out. And for the most part, I liked it that way because I preferred intimate relationships with a few over superficiality with the masses…and still do.
But I can’t lie. There are times now as an adult that I experience feelings of emptiness that come with the sparse number of friends I possess and the copious amounts I’ve lost. I take responsibility for this-both the loneliness and the lack of friendships. I haven’t always been interested in putting forth much effort to make friends. Partly because the chaotic life I’ve been handed has hardened me and left me weary of most people and a little because the struggle to find quality company continues to deem friendships a waste of time and energy.
But I realize a third reason why making adult friendships has been complicated. Most friendships are based on convenience and sameness rather than connectedness, especially for those (like me) who find connections through their kids. Consequently, finding people to connect with genuinely has become harder and harder to come by. Not because of a quirk or shortcoming (like I’ve always told myself) but because everything in society has changed how friendship shows up in our lives.
Social media has given rise to an entirely new meaning of “friend.” Some people whom you’ve never even met follow your life on social media, and there are people whom you’ve “de-friended” that you regularly see to emphasize your disgust for them as a human—all without saying a word.
The downfall to social media is antisocial behavior.Michele Mendoza
People no longer know how to have difficult conversations or express their feelings without attacking others. We can send a text or post an insensitive comment without looking a person in the eyes. The words “I’m hurting” or “I’m sorry” don’t carry the same weight when said behind a screen. These words could open a pathway for empathy in a person, but they are easily dismissed behind a screen. A connection has been reduced to transactions. Therefore, finding quality friendships and people willing to be vulnerable is much more difficult today than ever before. Being a good friend requires interaction and meaningful connection beyond a double tap on an Instagram photo. And many aren’t willing to tread that tumultuous terrain.
I have lost friends I cherished, and I used to take it so personally when they’d leave my life. My feelings have been hurt more times than I care to mention, and a part of me became callous until this poem was introduced to me.
People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.Author Unknown
When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through difficulty, provide you with guidance and support, and aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand. We must realize that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, and their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered, and it is now time to move on.
When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.
LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, those things you must build upon to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person/people (anyway), and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind, but friendship is clairvoyant.
– Author Unknown
When I read this poem, it helped me change my view of loss from something negative and shameful to something much more profound, full of meaning and purpose.
In addition, I do believe there are three other reasons that make friendships difficult to achieve in the world today. Recognizing these helped me to assuage the shame and disappointment in losing a friend.
We Love Sameness
Let’s be blunt here. It might not be the truth you’re looking for, but most friendships are situational-formed in the name of sameness.
Especially for parents who cultivate friendships with other parents whose kids are on the same sports team or in the same class.
These are the friendships that fade when situations change. Because they are based on the principle of sameness, when the sameness changes, so does the relationship.
The reason these people entered your life wasn’t for any reason more significant than the fact that there was a sameness that connected you—nothing profound, deep, or meaningful, just a similarity between two people.
Not Enough Time
Today time is a commodity that most don’t have the luxury of wasting. The pace of the world is moving so fast that almost everyone is forced to prioritize the things they are willing to make time for. Unfortunately, friendships are not at the top of the list of priorities in adults juggling jobs, caring for children, and placing a large part of their identity in managing a healthy household. There isn’t much time to cultivate outside friendships.
We are all a little Selfish
Hard to swallow but true, no matter how much good you see in a person, most of us live life selfishly. And while the word does have a hint of negativity, I don’t mean it to be deemed a bad quality. It’s more just the truth that nobody wants to talk about. Human tendency looks out for itself. We often seek something to learn or something to earn in a relationship. Therefore, when we combine our innate selfish behavior with a lack of significant time available to us, we get a transactional relationship rather than a meaningful one.
But every once in a while, you get a lifelong friend
These friends are the cream of the crop, the elite, the privileged, the pick of the litter, the best of the best.
They are here to stay. They teach you lessons that have a lifetime of dividends. They are few, but they are powerful.
When you are lucky enough to come across a lifetime friend, you have a responsibility to invest, a duty to sacrifice, and standards to uphold. And it comes easy, second nature because there is dialogue, mutual understanding, empathy, and genuine love.
These friends are the fire that ignites connection and meaning. You’ll know it when you see it. Everything falls into place.
Are we all just doomed to a life of isolation and transactional relationships?
But maybe before we throw ourselves a pity party because we have lost friendships or grown apart from loved ones, we could do ourselves a little favor by considering the truth about the factors making friendships more and more difficult.
While we are wallowing in our misery of friendlessness, we do well to consider the possibility that there are more people just like us, feeling the same frustration and confusion, believing everyone else has friends, and living the narrative that they are alone.
Friendships can be hard. What is depicted on social media is far from reality. And we are all just trying to get through life with the least damage as possible. So when you find it difficult to find friends, be the friend you want. Reach out when it’s uncomfortable, send the invite, pay a compliment.
Because the world needs fewer transactions and more kindness.
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Personally, I think another reason why adults are less likely to make friendships is because theyre afraid of commitment, afraid to get hurt, afraid of only being the giver but not the receiver. People are not brave enough to actually speak up for themselves and their emotions, rather they just sit back and let something happen that could have been prevented. Moreover, a huge factor is the fact that everyone seems to have a victim-complex whilst not wanting to take accountability.
You have no idea how much I love this comment! I couldn’t agree more. Especially the victim complex and lack of accountability part. This is definitely a big part of hindering adult relationships from thriving. I actually think this is true at a societal level as well. We have gotten so used to not speaking the truth in an effort to avoid discomfort that we have created a fake society with fake people and fake relationships. Thank you so much for your insight on this!