Friday Musings: On Friendship

Happy Friday, everyone! I read an article from The Atlantic this week that really struck a chord with me. It’s about the changing nature of friendship over time, a topic that has been on my mind as I’ve transitioned into my new role as a mother, when every relationship aside from the one with your child seemingly takes a backseat.

“The voluntary nature of friendship makes it subject to life’s whims in a way more formal relationships aren’t. In adulthood, as people grow up and go away, friendships are the relationships most likely to take a hit.” 

Isn’t that the truth? In adulthood, and most of all, in motherhood. Even though I am the one who has likely become less available to my friends post-motherhood, I have still been holding on to a little bit of angst and resentment in regard to drifting friendships. I pride myself on being incredibly loyal and committed in friendships, especially the ones nurtured in that vulnerable state of young adulthood. I spent so much of my childhood moving countries and having to leave friends, that when I found lifelong ones in my early 20s, I clung to them. And naturally felt confused and perhaps even abandoned when regular communication became a challenge once we surged ahead with our respective careers but in different cities.

But reading this article, and especially this closing paragraph, was an ‘aha’ moment that helped reframe these friendships in a more positive, realistic light:

“Perhaps friends are more willing to forgive long lapses in communication because they’re feeling life’s velocity acutely too. It’s sad, sure, that we stop relying on our friends as much when we grow up, but it allows for a different kind of relationship, based on a mutual understanding of each other’s human limitations. It’s not ideal, but it’s real, as Rawlins might say. Friendship is a relationship with no strings attached except the ones you choose to tie, one that’s just about being there, as best as you can.”

I LOVE this perspective. It’s such a liberating thought for someone like myself who has always held my friends to high standards and expectations when it comes to communication. I’ve caught up recently with a few different friends from college after years, and the reunions all proved to me that even though we don’t need each other on a daily basis, those friendships are still intensely real and deep. And I was able to pour my heart out to them in a way that I simply cannot with just anyone in my life. It doesn’t matter that they weren’t there for recent life milestones, what matters is the connection and the understanding that we once chose each other for a reason. To borrow a line from my favorite movie The Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, constantly talking isn’t necessarily communicating…and if I can have a few golden moments of true communication and friendship interspersed throughout our busy lives, then I consider myself lucky.

What are your thoughts on the changing nature of friendship? Did you catch this article, and do you agree that letting go of certain expectations can allow for more meaningful relationships in adulthood?