I uploaded a video on my instagram about the different seasons in friendships and the struggle to maintain adult relationships the older we get. And as I suspected so many people resonated with this message.
Friendships are one of the most important type of relationships a person will have but also the relationship that often gets overlooked.
People often downplay the impact a broken friendship can have on a person or how conflicting life events can lead to the demise of what once was a beautiful bond.
When I was younger, I was known for having lots of friends. To be honest I still am. But there were a set few right from secondary school aka high school, that I was sure I would be friends with for life. Like I was certain the friends I was glued to during my all back cornrow days in year 7 would one day be my bridemaids, my kids god parents, you name it. Of course for the most part this was not the case. I am fortunate to still be very good friends with a few of the people I grew up with but the majority of my friends today, I met them during my time at university and post grad and a few I met after that time. So from the age of 18 to about 23, I formed my core friendship groups (with a few exceptions). Within these groups, you knowingly or unknowingly form expectations of what roles your friends have in your life. You know who out of your friends is the best to call when you need counsel. Who the turn up friend is, who the best listener is and the friend who is also down to throw them hands if need be.
In the same way, you also know the role you play in your friends life. We carry these expectations throughout the years and for the most part in the beginning these expectations are met. But as time goes on, we notice that the friends we spoke to 3x a day can become the friends we speak to 3x a month. we realise that the friend who always drops everything to be there is all of a sudden unable to do so. You also realise that you can not show up for your friends the way you use to. Often times these changes in friendships lead to years of pent up frustration.
I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about the realties of adult friendships and when I got off the phone I began to think about all of the reasons why it gets harder. Truthfully for most the years a lot of us formed our core friendship groups came before or during a time of transition. Your late teens into your early 20’s are all about finding your feet in society. You probably had a little boo thang or maybe it was the beginning of a serious relationship. You had a weekend job and studies but real life hadn’t kicked in. Fast forward to your early to mid 20’s you probably have graduated, got a 9-5, pay more bills but also had more disposable income to travel, and to explore life. You may be looking to settle down but you are still in your prime so you are having fun. You may not have as much time for your friends as you did at university but you are still able to manage and also maintain the friendship expectations you had set a few years prior. Even if it was not convenient to. Fast forward further to your mid -late 20’s into your 30’s most people are setting down roots. You notice that you and more and more of your friends are progressing in careers/businesses, getting married, having babies, some are relocating, getting mortgages you name it. The time you were once able to create to maintain these friendship expectations simply no longer exist.
As we navigate through different seasons we also need our support system. The struggles of having a new born baby or starting a new job or trying to get a mortgage requires support.
But what happens when the level of support you expect from your close friend is not met?
As we grow older I am realising just how important it is to re-adjust my friendship expectations whilst inserting grace to account for the fact that just as I am going through a season, my close friends are to.
I am unlearning the urges to expect help and learning to ask when it is needed. But mostly I am learning to be content with encouraging myself in the Lord and accepting whatever level of emotional support my friends are able to provide.
We struggle with friendship changes because friendship is important. The bible says in Proverbs 17:17 that a friend loves at all times and a brother is born in the time of adversity. Another scripture I love says Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel – Proverbs 27:9.
Good friends are often what separate a person.
So desiring friendship is natural. But in-order for friendships to remain healthy, we have to account for life seasons.
The season you are in should never diminish your love for a friend but it may diminish the time you have to spend with them.
I believe God also uses this to make man more reliant on him as we transition through life.
In the next couple of weeks I am launching a pre-season series of my podcast the ATM podcast and I am going to delve a little deeper into my thoughts on adulthood friendships and the way I am learning to manage mine.
If you haven’t already subscribed to the ATM podcast or you would like to listen to season 1, click here