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.