This is a guest blog by Lindsay Thornton: It’s hard to avoid the current media storm around the return of the highly anticipated hit TV show Sex & The City. As they return to our screens for their brand new chapter, “And Just like that”….. the show, like in the past, focusses on the friendships and challenges that women face from their past and present. But this time around they are in their 50’s. And there is someone missing. Samantha Jones’s much loved character is no longer part of the fabulous foursome. And just like that, as in real life, friendships which we think will never go out of style sometimes do.
We invest so much time and energy into our friendships. Sometimes they begin from an early age. And if we are very lucky, we might even still have at least one of those friends in our life which we can call our oldest best friend. This is rare. As we grow, new friendships enter our life. And some friendships grow apart. Like any relationship that ends, it is always painful to realise that there is greater and greater distance between people who sometimes know us better than we know ourselves.
A Loss Of A Friend Can Cause A Level Of Trauma
Over the last decade I have been thinking a lot more about the way friends come in and out of our lives. It’s not always a slow transition from lifelong friendship to distant friend, and when a friendship ends abruptly we are left with confusion, feelings of abandonment, intense loss that feels similar to grief.
We struggle to express our emotions when there is a change to a close friendship. In some cases, it can cause a level of trauma. When we experience a big change to a friendship we valued, that raw emotion can lead us to feel vulnerable and that can take a while for the mind and body to reset.
I’ve struggled with different levels of trauma on a few occasions and it’s times like those when you really need your good friends around you. Nothing is more upsetting than finding you have nobody to send a message to or call.
Life Changes Quickly
I feel privileged to have had three decades of wonderful friendships and an abundance of memories. I’ve had the ones that have helped me through my school life which included supporting me through periods of bullying. Those who supported my career. And ones who sat with me through some of my darkest times. And friends I could count on whatever time of the day it was if I needed them.
But life changes quickly. And it’s hard when sometimes that leads to our friendships changing too, especially when they’ve been there through it all up to that point.
Friends Can Just Simply Disappear
We live in a time where it’s so easy for life to get busy. People move away. Work colleagues that we always thought we’d work with change jobs. Or someone has children and suddenly there we are, left wondering how a person who meant so much to us is no longer around.
And we might find that our own priorities have changed so much that it means we have to let some people go. Even old friends who we have loved for a lifetime can become strangers overnight. People disappear from our lives for reasons totally out of our control but no less painful.
Should Some Friendships End?
We change, outgrow each other or grow apart, and have less in common. Or falling outs that can’t be easily fixed or are so damaging that they are far beyond repair. Maybe someone changes in a way that means we might have to isolate ourselves from them to protect our own mental health. The reasons for a friendship growing distant are endless, and occasionally, a friendship ends by our own choice. But it doesn’t make the end of a friendship hurt any less.
Sometimes Friendships End For Reasons We Have No Control Over
We don’t always have control over people disappearing from our lives and sometimes there is no way to get them back. People we love die. And there is sadly truly no control. We can continue our bond with them, by loving and remembering them, but we can’t make them reappear. It’s one of the saddest parts of life to lose a friendship in this way. And all we can do is keep their memory alive and celebrate the friendship we had.
Friendships Come In Many Different Shapes And Sizes
We also have friendships where they aren’t best friend level. We may not click the way we do with other friends. They may not even be our biggest supporter. But these are important too. Friendships come in many different shapes and sizes. With these friends, sometimes our contact is sporadic. They are less constant in our lives, but are valued in a different way. But occasionally, that contact becomes so infrequent that the friendship fades away altogether.
Some Friendships Are For A Lifetime
It’s not always been easy for me to accept that friendships change. But as I approach my 40’s I understand more about the true value of friendship and how important it is to have the right people in my life. Quality over quantity is more important to me than ever.
For example, I have a true meaningful connection with my best friend which was formed some years ago during one of her own most darkest times. Since then, we’ve helped each other through the sad times and the amazing times and we often call each other our own personal Guardian Angel.
“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”
She is the first person I want to tell when something good happens, and when I feel sad or maybe after hearing some bad news, she is there waiting for me with a big hug and tissues ready allowing me the opportunity to talk through everything while she sits and just listens.
I may have learned that some friendships change for many different reasons, but there are always ones we hope never do.
Friendships Require A Lot Of Give And Take
Friendships require a lot of give and take and they come in many different shapes and sizes. Friends mean a lot to us and will always hold a special place in our hearts even if that is now only for the memories we shared at the time we spent time together.
We have three types of friends at some point in our lives:
- Friends for a reason
- Friends for a season
- Friends for a lifetime
Each one has taught me at least something good or bad. Even if life has changed the relationship. Or we grew apart. Our friends were taken from us. Or the friendship simply fades. All are equally special and important in their own unique way and should never be taken for granted.
Can We Stop A Friendship Going Out Of Style?
Experiences we have with others can affect us at any age. We all struggle to keep friendships going, and no matter what age we are, we all feel that pain when a friendship goes out of style.
It can be difficult to reach out to a friend we valued if a lot of time has passed since we last spoke or saw them, but many times it’s our brain tricking us with stories that make us think we don’t have any alternative options than to let the friendship go. But we do have a choice if we want to take it. Sometimes, in certain circumstances, we do have control of how we keep those we love in our lives.
- “Oh, it has been way too long, it would be weird now to just reach out.”
- “Because of what happened , they won’t want to be friends, or they aren’t worth being friends with.”
- “We did mean things or pushed each other away, I’m scared how they will react to me reaching out.“
- “They’re probably too busy, or don’t have time for me, or we’ve changed too much.”
If there has been a fallout, or time has passed, we pushed them away or life was just hectic. We can stop the stories in our head increasing that fear of making the first move. The truth is, we have the power to decide who we want in our lives. Yes, we could take the risk and it be met with no response. But I’ve learned it’s worse to not take the risk and let a friendship I valued fade, than it is to reach out.
Friendships Which We Think Will Never Go Out Of Style, Sometimes Do
It’s ok for friendships to maybe grow apart. We aren’t here to be in everyone’s pockets and sometimes friendships like relationships sadly come to an end. Some friendships we think will never go out of style, sometimes do. And there are so many reasons for that, and none of them make it any less painful.
So when you next feel sad that you’ve lost contact with a friend, don’t’ let fear be a reason for reaching out to them. And if the friendship really is over, think of the memories you made together. Because even if it was just for a time, our friendships are treasures we carry forward in the years ahead.
I’m lucky to have made so many friends over the last 38 years. And I’d like to thank them all, past and present. You’ve all taught me in one way or another important lessons that have carried me through to this point of my life. I have cared for each and every one of you. Distance, time or changes in circumstances won’t ever change that.