Friendships are SO important. However, it’s sad but true – friendships change throughout our lives, and I believe our needs for different kinds of friends change too. I’ve had a lot of friends come and go throughout my lifetime. Some I’ve reconnected with, but that closeness that was once there is usually gone. Some friendships have changed from close to more distanced and although I may trust that person, we don’t necessarily rely on each other for much.
But it wasn’t until the past few years that I’ve learned to cherish those whom I find a like-mindedness with – finding satisfying friendships – another way to say this might be “kindred spirit” for all of you Anne of Green Gables fans out there 😉
Being a natural introvert, I have a hard time opening up to people, and cover much of my own internal insecurity and awkwardness with sarcasm and jokes. Others tell me that I don’t seem insecure but actually, there’s very few people that I let in to get to know the real me. Large crowds overwhelm me and exhaust me, therefore I much prefer to have a few close friends instead of groups and groups of them. I’m also not awesome about keeping in touch with people I don’t see often, so close proximity is helpful for me.
In my late 20’s I was able to finally take a step back and see what I was doing wrong in friendships as well and as it turns out, some of my friendships have not been successful because of my lack of engagement. One of my best friends in high school hoped for us to spend most afternoons together, and a lot of our time talking on the phone – we sure had some marathon phone conversations! But if I wanted to just chill out in my sweats and watch a movie, I think her feelings were hurt. I knew even then that I didn’t need to be going, going, going all the time, that just wasn’t my personality.
Learning more about myself, my personality type and how I function as a person helped with this. A Myers-Briggs typology test put a lot into perspective for me and helped explain and justify some of my personality traits in this way. I have learned to seek out friendships in individuals much like myself – those who might be a little more shy and quiet at first, who prefer to mingle in smaller groups than be the life of the party. Someone who understands when I just want to watch a movie in sweats and not go out on a Friday night, and mainly she’s not upset about me doing that because she’s doing it herself! It’s a great compromise for me to feel like I don’t have to strain who I am to keep a friendship.
The distancing of some other friendships makes me sad. There are friends I’ve had since middle school and high school that I really enjoy, respect and care about, that I wish we kept in touch more. But, the physical distance, with me living in in the Northwest now, deters from staying close. When we don’t see each other often, it’s easy to be out of sight, out of mind. I appreciate social media for allowing us to easily keep in touch. But I also try to drop a text, call, email, etc. when I can just to let those friends know I was thinking of them. How have your friendships changed as an adult – or what different approaches have you taken to gaining and retaining friendships?