Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Things I've Learned About Friendship

I realize it's no longer Tuesday, but friendship is a timeless topic, no? I'm posting anyway...

I have 600+ friends on Facebook making me a clear expert in this week's Top 2 Tuesdays topic - "What I've Learned About Friendships".  I kid....about the expert part. 

I haven't participated in Top 2 in a long while, but I admit, this subject made me want to throw in my 2-cents!! 

I have a lot of friends. I've hurt friends. I've been hurt by friends. I've forgiven friends. Friends have forgiven me.

I've maintained old friendships, long distance friendships. In recent years I've found myself still making new friends - and I hope that's always the case in my life.

I'm a good friend - not a perfect one - but a good one, and these are my Top 2 thoughts on friendships:

1. Have (and be a friend to) friends who are at different stages in life than you are.

It's undeniably fabulous to have a friend who is so in tandem with you and everything in your world. My friend Anne + I were engaged and planning our weddings together after many years of being single and sharing dating disasters, and the empathy + excitement we got to share was priceless.

When I graduated from college, however, I was among the few girls in my circle of friends who didn't immediately get married and start a family. I moved off to a new city and indulged in a very selfish and indulgent lifestyle.

Purposefully, I limited contact with these friends because I was sure they thought I was still acting like a college co-ed (and in may ways, I was...). Because our lives were going in opposite directions, I was quick to just shut out the people who were living a life different than I was living. I regret distancing myself from these women with whom I shared many great years, many defining moments.

If I could go back to my 20-something self, I would change this because these days, I count amongst my closest friends women who certainly aren't like me in every way - thank goodness!! Some of my best friends are several years younger than me, older than me, still single, successful career ladies, and stay-at-home moms.  I love all the things that I learn from them, and that they {hopefully} learn from me.

2. Make Time for Your Friends

Friendship is easy when you're in college - you see, sometimes even live with, your friends nearly every day. It's when we all grow up and are faced with managing a real job, a real house, a real romance - a real life - that the friends who so seemlessly decorated our days are not always around - especially if you don't make time for them (even in your full + busy life).

Long before I became a reluctant suburbanite, my friend Mary rocked the Maryland 'burbs all by her lonesome. It wasn't (and still isn't) always easy for her to meet up for impromptu happy hours or even make the long haul for planned dinner parties down in the city. Sometimes Mary + I go weeks without seeing each other, and when that happens, we stop, pull out our calendars, and make a date.

I don't think that the writers of Sex and the City have it wrong when they play up the value of girlfriends, but I do think in real life women are quick to move their friendships far, far down on their list of priorities. This is why sometimes we suddenly end up with free time, and no one with whom to spend it. Or even worse, we find ourselves needing the emotional support that only friends can provide, and we've bankrupted our besties having over-spent our time on other areas of our lives.

Have you ever felt slighted by someone who says, My husband will be out of town next week, we should get together then ?

I'm not saying that when Mr. W isn't around I don't sometimes fill my calender with chick flicks + pedicure dates, but, it's important not to make your friends, especially ones who aren't in relationships or married, feel like you only have time for them when you don't have something better to do. I don't think women realize sometimes how qualifying the time they give to their friends can really be, well, insulting.

Mr. W means a WHOLE lot to me. He's my top person, my first phone call at the end of my work day, and is senior to all others in my heart. He's my husband, yes, and that encompasses every element of relationship - friendship included - but he's not my "best friend" and I'm not his. I think that's perfectly fine - healthy, even.

He doesn't want to go to Raven's games with me; he wants to go with Dave. I don't want him in the pedicure chair next to me; I want Cassie or Mary or Jenni (or Jocelyn or Shannon or any of the women I'm lucky to claim as a dear, dear friend). And though I depend on him for a range of emotions and needs,  it is unfair for him to be my source of stability for everything.

I've learned - sometimes the hard way - that it's important to make time for, and value deeply, a diverse group of friends.



Dee Stephens said...

I like it! I think you and I could be twins! Sorta resembles my friendship post a week or so ago. No, I was not in Miss Teen USA but I was in Miss Teen of America...that's where talent is included! :)

Kate (Southern-Belle-Simple) said...

You are so right about this! SO many times I've gotten the "my husbands out of town, wanna hang out?" thing and it sort of stings. Of course our partners in life are our numero unos....but we need those good besties too! I'm still hanging on to the hope that we will one day be in real life friends....we just have too much in common not to! xoxo

Karen At Home said...

Such a beautiful post and very well written! I have done the same thing, shut out friends not in the same stage of life as me and I too realize that now.

Shannon said...

What a wonderful post, P! I share many of your same thoughts! And I absolutely love that last picture of you and all your bridesmaids!

Anne S said...

I love this!! We have discussed this topic many, many times and we remain in complete agreement. You are, and will ALWAYS be one of my very favorite friends of all time!!

Jennifer Gilbert Settle said...

I love the way you worded do need multiple sources of strength & stability and I think many girls forget this & their relationships suffer.

Anonymous said...

Moving style. I want to be able to write that way.
Tapety na pulpit

Andrea Hardy said...

Wow! You never cease to amaze and touch me. I needed this lesson to remind me to take more time for the women friends in my life. In fact, I am going to copy your post and send to some of my friends.
Thank you.


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