photo credit: unknown
My friend was disappointed that some of her friendships seemed to be changing. Between trying to be a good listener to her and trying to impart some wisdom, I came up with a few facts about life that I hope she felt were helpful.
For one thing, and the most important thing you will learn about your friendships in your early to mid twenties, people change. I assume we continue changing our whole lives, but our twenties in particular are a very turbulent time for us. We go to college, some get married and have babies, some start to develop Wanderlust and travel the world, and some people live in their parents basement. Everyone starts to develop their lives into what they want them to look like, and not everybody that we knew as high school BFFs is going to progress at the same rate or even the same direction as us. I know people who were cheerleaders in high school who are now complete hippies. I know people who graduated at the top of their class and are working for minimum wage now. I also know some people no one thought would make it and are now entrepreneurs making the "big bucks." It's amazing where life will take you. And a lot of the time, you lose that bond that you had with certain people. It isn't that you or they are doing anything wrong, you just don't have much in common anymore. And those friendships tend to still exist on the basis of loyalty and history- but you will notice that your converstions begin to lull. What input are you going to have on potty training when your life revolves around going out and doing the single's scene? Both lifestyles are just fine- but the two participants might not have a lot to talk about when their daily goings-on look so different.
Another truth is that it's important to realize and seek out what you deserve. When you're in high school, most people are so desperate for companionship that we will put up with just about anything to avoid being a "loner." We've all put up with behaviors from people that we knew, deep down, were unacceptable. But to avoid ditching out on our "group," we just dealt with it. I know I certainly did. And in all fairness, I'm sure I exercised such behaviors with other people too; mistreating them and them turning a blind eye. It's just the way it goes. But when you grow up, you begin to realize your self-worth, and you learn to accept nothing less. It's actually a really cool thing, but it can get lonely at times.
I emphasized to my friend how important it is to come to this realization. I, for one, spent far too many years looking the other way to avoid being lonely. But it's just crazy to think that for all that time, I was settling for bs friendships and relationships to avoid being alone. And that has been one of my biggest lessons of my twenties: never settle for people who treat you like crap. It may seem harmless at the time, what with the whole idea of "well at least I'm not hanging out by myself on a Friday night!"... but the more you accept people not giving you what you deserve, the more you start to assume you don't deserve much. It's a terrible cycle.
I wound up hitting a wall with this sort of thing recently- which was how I got to the place I'm at with it. At some point, you just say "Enough!" And it feels almost lazy, but I just drop the bullshit. If you're going to be a jerk, I just don't care to be around you. If I'm always the person calling you and you never make plans with me, I'm done. I am fully willing to invest myself in friendships and relationships where I feel reciprocated- but my friendship is not a one-woman show. My best friends, now, are people who call me to ask how my day is. We cook each other dinners and we genuinely invest ourselves in each other's problems, solving them as a team because we care about one another. If there is a problem, we talk about it. Because as I told my friend last night: if you have a real desire to keep someone in your life, you will want to address and resolve any issues with them. It's not pleasant to do so- but it's an investment. I am willing to work through hard times with you because you're important to me and our friendship is worth it. And quite frankly, you should never settle for anyone in your life who isn't willing to put in the work. If this is like, the fifth time they've let you down... just walk away.
I, myself, try to do the "ditch effort" approach. I will try until I've had enough. Then, I will talk to you about it. Then I will give it one last ditch effort, and if nothing changes I just accept that person as they are and realize that perhaps we are not compatible. I don't see the point in making a big scene- I just let it fall where it will. I've done my part, and as long as I give something my best effort I can be satisfied with that.