Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Evolution of Friendships

Some friendships are like walking sticks. Others, like stepping stones. This concept is courtesy of my dear 2nd mom, Martha. I have always liked it. You have friends which stay with you through life and help you get through those tough times. These long term friendships are your walking sticks. Other friends are stepping stones in your life. They are the ones you connect with at different periods of your life. The time may be brief or over several times, in and out of your life.  It may be good and meaningful but it is just a blip on the radar. And there is nothing wrong with this!

Friendships are an interesting concept. I have wanted to write a blog for awhile now on them and kept skipping around on how to approach the topic. I find friendships are a constantly evolving abstract in one’s life. We are forced to attend elementary and high school with these other kids that we don’t know. That is our first experience with friendship. Most of us eventually develop bonds with certain kids. We deal with kids that we do not like and then with kids who turn out to be enemies, frenemies, and bullies. It is not until college that we are able to become friends with those of our own choosing, whether it be the theater crowd, the intellectual types, goth kids, the jocks, or those in the Greek system.

As an adult, we become friends with coworkers and those with shared similar interests. If you are single, you hang out with a single crowd. Once you start seeing someone, your single friendships invariable suffer and move to the background. Couples migrate to other couples. Single friends continue to hang out with single friends. No one wants to be a third wheel.

I have friends from each period of my life that I am still close with. I may not see them often, but when I do, we pick up right where we left off and continue as if not a day passed since I last saw them. But some of those best friends that I once thought I was extremely close with and were those "walking sticks", turn out to be just “old friends” now. It is disconcerting.

This happens for a number of reasons. We now don’t have much in common and our history together cannot make up for that. Or as often is the case, one friend puts out more than the other to keep up the friendship, and it just isn’t worth the effort. The payout on the friendship isn’t worth the work involved. One side stops doing all the calling and the friendship fades. When people grow apart as friends and move on, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s just life.

Changing, evolving friendships are difficult and painful when they evolve into something less than what they currently are. I was friends with certain people whom I never thought I would drift apart from. I also know that friendships are a two way street. Why stay in one when both sides aren’t going to work at it. One person should not be doing all the calling, emailing, or texting.

When that light bulb goes off, that you realize that you are just tired of trying to maintain a faltering friendship, it is not a happy experience. It is akin to any relationship which fades and for lack of a better work, dies. It is sad. But it can also be empowering. You realize that you now can spend time focusing on the friendships that do matter. And there is nothing wrong with this! It is a simple fact of life. To accept that comes with age and wisdom.

You also have those friendships, as I mentioned before, where you can go for months or years with not contact and then just pick up where you left off. It is wonderful. You understand that your friend has had a tough or busy couple months and you eventually reconnect with their life settles down. That is a true friendship: one that stands the test of time, relationships, moving to a different area of the country, personal issues, deaths in family, marriage, divorce, children, etc. It stands through all the messiness of life, only to reemerge when you get together with that special friend and laugh out loud like when you first laughed with that friend, maybe decades earlier.

Not all friendships are like that. Sometimes you think it will be a magical reunion. But sometimes it is not and unfortunately it’s just a short trip down memory lane and then you move on. Not everyone is a walking stick. But that is what makes them so special when they are. How boring would life be if we got along and were best friends with everyone. Dealing with the messiness of life, understanding our faults and limitations, and yet coming back around and reconnecting is what makes close friendships so meaningful.


  1. I'm trying to see more of my friends so this post really rings true to me now. I love the images of sticks and stones. Thanks for this device to keep in mind as I continue to connect.

  2. I like the stepping stones analogy. I often wondered if something was wrong with me because I had friendships that were time/place specific, then they were over when they moved or I moved or one of us changed jobs. I finally decided a few years back that such occurrences are just part of living, moving, evolving. As long as the person and I had positive interactions up until the last one, it's all good as we can hold good memories of that time without expecting lasting commitment. :)