Yesterday I discussed how difficult it is (for me) to maintain close, meaningful friendships into adulthood. Because friendships need to be nurtured, and to be tended to… like a garden. Some plants require more attention and need certain conditions (just enough light, just enough water, the right pot and/or soil, etc) to thrive, while others need much less and still manage to grow without much interference. Most of my friends tend to be of the latter nature. Many of us can talk on the phone a handful of times throughout the entire year, and see each other maybe once a year, and still be the best of friends. No love is lost simply because we aren’t in direct communication all the time. The quality of the communication we do have makes up for the lake in quantity of phone calls and in-person meet ups. I still desire to have more communication and better contact with my friends because having those moments where we can share with each other and enjoy each other’s company are so important to me. But most of those friendships aren’t in jeopardy of existing if we aren’t up to date with minute to minute information.
I don’t have many of the “needy” type friendships now that I’m adult. I just don’t have the time or patience to tend to a needy friend. The friend who feels that if they aren’t in constant communication with you, know every single detail of your life, and have immediate access to you, then your friendship is a sham. And as I’ve already mentioned, life gets more busy and difficult to manage over time – and ain’t nobody got time for that! And I don’t know if I naturally select friends who aren’t very needy or I just subconsciously let those friendships fall to the wayside because I don’t have these types of friendships, I just wouldn’t be able to keep up with them.
And as a few people mentioned in the comments yesterday, when your priorities and life situations change, often times your friends do too and you sometimes have to cut friends out of your life. I’m a firm believer that you have “seasonal” friends – friends who are only meant to last for a temporary period of time in your life. They may be a good friend to you for a certain time, but their role in your life wasn’t meant to be long lasting. I think we all have or have had those “friends” who you think are pretty cool, we hang out with on occasion, we always get invites to for events. They might be “friends” from work, from school, from an organization you’re in – you’re connected by some common thread and there’s no good reason you shouldn’t be friendly. And I would venture to say they’re more than an acquaintance because these are people you would choose to hang out with voluntarily in leisurely settings and you might even share things about yourself (not necessarily really personal things) over drinks. I think of acquaintances as people you know from say work or is a friend of a friend that you might occasionally see after hours at ULYP events and will chop it up with but who you’d never consider inviting to attend a Foreign Exchange concert or Kevin Hart show with you and your crew. I had numerous casual friends when I was living in Pittsburgh. I was a student, in a sorority, and actively involved in my church and local organizations – so I met a lot of cool people and made a lot of friends. Just about all of the people I know in Portland also fall into this category of casual friends.
Wherever I go I tend to have a network of people I can be social with. But when I leave those places, I leave a lot of those friendships behind. I still have contact with many of these friends via Facebook or Twitter, but I don’t actively pour into those friendships. Because they weren’t meant to be long-lasting. I still like many of these people, and wish them well in life, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to be a part of their life or have them be part of mine. I haven’t needed to intentionally cut friends off because I tend not to nurture a friendship that I see going nowhere (or that isn’t meant to continue past it’s shelf life). And when I have noticed that a friendship is going nowhere (i.e. a casual friendship trying to parade as a close friendship, or a close friendship that has gone stale and stagnant), I stop caring for it. Not the person, just the relationship. There are only a few instances where I’ve cut some one off completely (no communication whatsoever), but by and large there are many people throughout my life who have just taken a very low priority on my list of people to actively think about. The people I put and keep in my life matter very much to me mentally and emotionally, and there isn’t room for some one who isn’t going to make me better or contribute to my well being.
I think the entire goal of the maturation process is finding out who you are and what you need to live the life you want. Part of that journey is learning to navigate the sometimes murky waters of relationships with various people – especially friends. It seems the older we get, the more we change but the more stuck in our ways we get. And our tolerance for people that aren’t beneficial additions to our lives seems to decrease exponentially with age as well. Unfortunately, everyone our age doesn’t mature at the same rate, or they just don’t mature at all, and so they’re left behind and look at you crazy when you say “I don’t have time for this/you.” Like, your being a fully grown adult is problematic. Le sigh.
Do you have different categories of friends or do you only have your close friends and then everybody else? How do you deal with friendships that seem to be more effort than they’re worth? Have you kept friends around that you know you should let go but you don’t have the heart to part ways?