Let’s face it. The older we get, the harder it is to make friends. I mean real friends, not just casual acquaintances you see out and about or follow on social media. As we get older, our need for friendship increases. We have real issues we are dealing with and need to share with others, yet our opportunities to make friends get smaller and smaller.
When we’re growing up the opportunities to meet people come often. We have school, youth groups and extra curricular clubs where we make friends. Then off to college we go where we meet so many different types of people and find a whole new group of friends, which is scary but fun! Then after college you either move to a new city where you start the cycle of making friends over again, or move back home and try to reconnect to anyone still in your hometown. Of course you also have coworkers which is tricky because you know… they’re coworkers.
The older we get, friendships are based less on circles and more on self-disclosure. In a world hidden behind Instagram filters and the false reality of a perfect life, how do you connect with a person’s authentic self?
I’d consider my story extremely rare to be able to say I have a small circle of close girlfriends who have been in my life with since practically birth. We grew up together at church as babies and our friendship really solidified in high school. It’s definitely a miracle that we’re all still close friends, and a testament to the Lord at work. While some of my closest friends moved to different cities, the majority still live in Jacksonville which makes staying in touch way easier. My core group of college friends now also live in Jacksonville, which would lead me to say I’m pretty lucky in the friends department.
Now don’t get me wrong, my friends and I have definitely had our troubled times. We’ve had some fights and periods where we didn’t see each other as regularly, but we’ve all committed to work through any issues that arise and keep our friendships strong. Relationships aren’t easy. They take time and work to keep them alive, like delicate flowers. Luckily I’m better at keeping friendships alive than my houseplants.
The older I get, the harder this seems to become. Everyone is always busy with jobs, husbands, babies and life in general, but an intentional goal of staying connected keeps our friendships strong. Social media does a good job of faking close personal connections, but nothing can stand in the place of a well-timed phone call or dinner date.
Our culture doesn’t really know how to portray good, solid female friendships. On TV we see groups of women fighting, being catty and downright hurtful to one another. In movies there’s always the one dorky best friend or the friend who stabs the protagonist in the back. Women are portrayed as being petty, drama-loving, meanies who can’t be trusted. According to pop culture, if someone does you wrong, or says something hurtful behind your back, that person is immediately dead to you. What a sad way to view friendship!
Real friendships have mountain top moments and valley moments. When you truly care about someone, you have to be willing to say you’re sorry, really listen, admit you’ve made mistakes, and ultimately compromise.
Real friendships require vulnerability, openness, loyalty and trust. I think a lot of times it’s our own insecurities that get in the way of forming real friendships. Maybe you haven’t spoken to a friend in months and you’re about to send them a text about reconnecting, but you don’t… what will they think about me? Why haven’t they reached out to me? Don’t let these types of thoughts flood your mind. Friendships take work and I guarantee that your friend will be so glad to receive your text.
We also have different levels of friends. Our closest friends know our deepest darkest secrets and should be there for you no matter what. Then the circles expand and different friends at various stages of your life fill in the gaps. In order to really cultivate a true friendship you must be open, honest and trustworthy. Millennials especially want complete honesty and can sense BS a mile away. I would respect someone so much more for just being straight with me rather than brushing me off with a lame excuse every time I call. When the circle of trust is broken in a friendship it takes time to build back trust, but it can be done.
Friendships change as stages of life change. Not every friendship we make will last forever. This doesn’t mean that there will be a huge fight or blowup that destroys the relationship, but let’s be honest, people change, and friendships change. My core group of friends is a mix of women in every stage of life, single, married, kids, etc. While I may not relate to the struggles of the married moms at this point in my life, I can definitely learn from their perspective on life and challenge them from my perspective.
No More Drama. As I get older, the less I want or need drama in my life. Now I admit I love knowing the drama and watch my share of the Kardashians and Real Housewives, but when it comes to drama in my own life… at 32, I don’t have time for it. When friendships bring drama I try to resolve it ASAP. Conflict resolution is a necessary skill when establishing true friendships. I’ve learned that when conflict arises, it needs to be addressed quickly instead of letting it fester and eat away at the relationship. There needs to be an understanding that when feelings are hurt and issues arise, you can always speak truth to each other, as long as it comes from a place of love. Facing drama head on from a place of love and truth can certainly be uncomfortable, but sometimes being uncomfortable can push us into a better place where we can all learn from each other’s perspectives and move forward in a deeper and closer friendship.
Not Everyone Has to Be Friends. This sounds harsh but I don’t mean it from a place of negativity. Not everyone is going to get along… and that’s okay. I think it’s important to realize if someone rubs you the wrong way, or you just never click, that it’s completely normal and not the end of the world. Not everyone is meant to be besties! Now this doesn’t mean there needs to be bad blood or animosity between people, God tells us to love our enemies and this can be applied here too. Treating everyone with respect is ultimately something I try to follow and when I encounter someone I just don’t click with, I smile, behave in a respectful way, and maybe just choose not to hang around them.
To live our best lives, we need to have intimate circles of real friends rather than being one of many people, almost lost in a crowd. This is something I’ve found true in my own life as I enter my mid-thirties. I’m choosing to spend my time cultivating and nurturing the friendships and relationships I hold dear to my heart. I will always keep the door open for new friendships because you never know who may walk in when you least expect it.
Swipe through to take a trip down memory lane with some fun pics!