The Flow… and Ebb of Friendship

woman walking on pathway while strolling luggage
Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on

I struggled for a good part of my life with investing emotional energy into friendships.  An introvert by nature (or perhaps by the ‘nurture’ of past wounds), I never was one to seek a lot of activity or adventure.  More often than not, I am content to read a book or spend time with my husband.  And though I enjoy it, it’s not my first choice to hang out with a girlfriend or another couple.

However, when I have taken time to develop those external relationships, I’ve expected them to last a lifetime.  Maybe it was all those Hallmark movies and best friend TV shows I watched in my 20s!  The truth is that, though I do have a select few people who are in that category, the vast majority of my friendships have been transitory.  And for a long time that made me question my own value and it’s subtly affected my willingness to befriend anyone.

Recently, I’ve learned something surprising: I’m not alone in this whole transitory thing.  A not-so-recent statistic claims that half of all friendships will change every 5-7 years. Simply put, relationships come and many of them, after a while, just go.  And it isn’t necessarily a sign that something is wrong.

I guess it makes sense.  Friendships are most often founded on shared experiences.  It’s natural to move toward people who are going through the same things we are.  But what happens when situations change over time—a new job, a move, or altered responsibilities that take up the space we’d formerly reserved for each other?  A week goes by, then two before getting together.  Before long, those magic moments become strangely awkward.  For me, if things eventually slowed to a stop, my temptation had been to silently grieve and question and condemn myself.

But sometimes, the only thing that really happened was… life.

Making space for beauty in my daily life has encouraged me to look at what’s in front of me through an untarnished lens.  In this case, it means allowing for the natural ebb and flow in relationship.  It’s invited me to offer grace for those friendships that never quite became what I expected—to look back upon them fondly, not with angst.  More than that, I am learning to invest more richly in my family and in those dearest of friends who, whether near or far, are just a phone call or a hug away.



1 thought on “The Flow… and Ebb of Friendship”

  1. I have come to believe that many people come into our lives for a reason, and usually the reason is not obvious at the time. But when I think about so many people who have been in, and then out, of my life, I understand the purpose of so many of those relationships. Nothing is forever, not even life itself. So I am thankful for crossing paths with many people in the past, try to enjoy and nurture the relationships I have today and let each friendship take it’s own course without expectations or plans for the future. The important friendships last over time and distance and the shorter term friendships become yet another chapter in the story of my life. I am thankful for them all!


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