Wednesday, August 17, 2011

More on grown-up friendships

I've been thinking a bit lately about the whole friendship thing.  A negative consequence of part-time work for me is that on the days I'm not working, I'm busy playing catch-up to the rest of my life, sadly leaving little time for friends.  When I was at home all the time and especially when my kids were smaller, I needed my girlfriends for company - to help me survive the long days with small children.

It's those times of intense shared experiences (like having babies together, or studying together or travelling together) that often create the deep friendships.  But sometimes those times of intensity and closeness can create a dissatisfaction with newer friendships in other times of your life.

I've been thinking that perhaps women expect too much of their friendships sometimes.  Why can't all my friendships be like when I was at uni/in the wilds of Africa/when I had my first baby?  Well, probably because I'm just not spending as much time with people as I did in those times of my life.  So the friendships I have now can seem disappointing in comparison.

Sometimes, we feel disappointed that we don't have a 'bosom buddy' (ala Anne of GG).  Where's that friend who I can share everything with?  I'm starting to wonder if this is another unrealistic expectation (especially if you've moved around often or you have friends who keep moving).

I think I have friends who met different needs in my life.  There's the friend who laughs with me about life.  Or the friend who talks books with me.  Or the friend who is older and wiser and can help me get some perspective on this stage of life.  Or the friend who I can share my parenting failings with and I know she won't judge me.

Maybe there isn't just that one friend.  Maybe there's a whole lot of different people who bring all sorts of interesting 'bits' to my life  and all those 'bits' help me to keep putting one foot in front of the other as the days go by.

8 comments:

Tina said...

Hi Jen
I think you're on to something here. I have also grieved the loss of really close friends as we have drifted apart over the course of our adult years. Different suburbs/states/countries, kids of different ages, spouses we find hard to take (theirs, not mine!) and different priorities. All of these things can make maintaining some friendships hard as you 'grow up'. Usually that has made room in my life for someone new. I used to think I was too busy as I got older to make new friends. Now every time I think that, God throws someone else in my path and says "Look - here's a good one" and I find myself trying to make space for someone new. They don't get all of me and I don't get all of them, and I think that's okay.

wide eyed said...

really like this post - I have been thinking a lot about friendships lately as well - lamenting the lack of bosom buddy. It's ok not to have one, but have many 'shoulder' buddies (not as close as bosom but closer than a handshake acquaintance)

Sarah said...

I really like this post too! I've been thinking lately that I've never really had a best friend rather, like yourself, I've had lots of different friends who I've connected with in different ways and who meet different needs.

Ah, how to be a good friend, yet be realistic with what we can offer - it's a fine line. Relationships sure aren't easy.

Anonymous said...

jenny... as my lovely husband says of me... with friendships ...in my case it takes a village!
x beck

Anonymous said...

Don't you think that chick-lit raises our expectations of 'bosom buddies'? The main characters all have one, or more, who stick with them - even when the main character's behaviour has been more than ordinary.
It leaves me wondering, what's wrong with me? I'm a nice person (if I do say so myself), but I have no one who I feel I could turn up on their doorstep at 3 am if I was having a crisis.

Anonymous said...

I;m with anonymous #2. I don't think I'm especially horrid but on the whole I'm pretty lonely. My good friends no longer go to the same church as me and we are busy and scattered all over the city so rarely see each other. I feel like an alien in my 'church family' and am very disconnected with them. I've put myself out on many occasions (not putting tickets on myself) for people in need at church - cleaned houses, looked after kids, provided meals, done shopping, but when I've had major illness or family difficulties I often don't even warrant a phone call from the women at church. When my husbands father was dying a friend who lived hours away rang me 2-3 times a week, but no one at church even asked me how I was.
I find it hard not to feel bitter.

Jenny said...

Anonymous' - I'm just so sad for you both. I don't want to say something trite like 'it will be OK', because loneliness and a lack of connectedness is truly rough and it is just hard. But I do feel that you've reminded me (and others I'm sure) to think harder about those around us. Thanks for sharing.

Sarah said...

Yes, thank you, Anonymous. I especially appreciated your honesty and I can definitely relate.

Last year a good friend of mine had her second miscarriage (she has since had a third). She said only two friends continued to follow up with her and check she was ok - one friend from church and myself (I live 3 hours away). Even though it was public knowledge in her church, a lot of people avoided her and said nothing. All she wanted was for people to stop pretending nothing had happened - she wasn't asking for gifts or meals etc or even a long chat. I think churches need to work harder at cultivating meaningful relationships and dealing with life in a fallen world, rather than just the casual chit-chat that takes place over coffee after the service. We can't be best friends with everyone, but we can at least show some sort of care.