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August 7, 2012

[Friendship] Change is a Part of Life

Something I continually struggle to accept is that friendships can and will change. Some friendships are for a season - Some friendships are for a lifetime - and that's okay. I would have always been able to say: Some friendships are for a season - Some friendships are for a lifetime. It's the "that's okay" part that has/and still is at times difficult for me to accept.

Changes in Friendship

Have you ever had a friendship that starts out wonderfully, but - as time goes on - you feel absolutely smothered and frustrated because you realize that the two of you want completely different things out of the relationship? I have so been there, and this can be really difficult because you literally have to go through a "break-up" with this person. I am so not good at this. I was never good at breaking up with boyfriends, and I'm just as terrible at breaking up with friends. How are you supposed to do this in the right way - understanding that Some friendships are for a season - Some friendships are for a lifetime - and that's okay?

Maybe I'm weird, but I can't handle the following:
"Good Morning!" and "Whatcha Doin'?" texts
"I miss you!" texts when I just saw you last week~
Calling "just to chat"
Driving up and down my street checking to see if I'm home~

Yes, these are things I've dealt with in new "friendships", and frankly, I typically write these people off as crazies and move on to focus on my normal, healthy [established] friendships; but what about when those normal, healthy friendships change?

I've faced this in recent years - for a couple of different reasons, I believe:

#1 - Some friends are unable to handle when you experience life change. They are uncomfortable when a husband and children enter the picture. Whether they don't know how to deal with the new you or they feel like they can't relate to you anymore I'm not sure, but this makes me sad because I am still me, and I would hope that I could walk with them through changes in their personal life. I don't expect all my friends to be in my same age or life stage - A couple of my dearest friends are 80-something year old widows~

#2 - In some situations, I've found myself being the one to pull away. I want to surround myself with positive, uplifting people; and I struggle when conversation becomes mostly negative - the husband bashing, the money woes, the complaining about other people, etc. can become exhausting. I do not mean to sound insensitive - I want to be there for my friends and encourage them in any way that I can - even during difficult times which I know will come; but when I dread conversation because I know they are going to consistently dwell on bats rather than butterflies, I get really tired and find myself wanting to spend less and less time with them.

How do I handle confronting the obvious change? I typically don't. You're talking to the girl who - following an awkward blind date - just never answered the guy's phone calls or e-mails again. Was this the right way to deal with this? No. I realize that, and I've been working to grow in this area. If you know me at all, you know "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend completely transformed my life when I read it a few years ago. The authors encouraged being specific about your wants and needs and be willing to communicate them to those around you - making sure you are clear and kind (taking into account their wants and needs as well).

So, I realize I should have told the blind-date guy, "You are not tall, dark, and handsome & I can't handle the way you tapped your fingers on the table the entire time we were eating dinner." Okay, just kidding! I would have never said that - but I should have been mature enough to explain that I didn't think we were a good match. However, I failed & I've failed in friendships, too; but I'm growing. There have been a couple of attempts at addressing issues in friendships where the other party was not willing to communicate - and I realize I can only work on my end of things and not dwell on the fact that others may not be willing to do their part; but there have been other times when my initiative has made all the difference. Thank you, Cloud & Townsend.

I am so thankful for those life-long friendships. For me, these relationships include reciprocated respect (huge!), very little drama (everyone has a smidgen, at least), and the ability to "pick up right where we left off" - always - no matter how much time has past.

How do you handle break-ups with crazies and change in established relationships? My husband can not believe the "issues" women have with other women - Sometimes, I wish I was a man. (Did I just say Sometimes, I wish I was a man.? Yep, I guess I did!) Anyway, I've recently had some great "over coffee" chats [w/ female friends] on this topic and when I've let myself open up, I've realized that everyone deals with this type of thing, and I'd love to hear your thoughts...