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In the Company of Friends…

January 23, 2011

Maybe it’s just me that thinks so; I suspect not. Men’s friendships are sooooo simple. And not very satisfying. Men make friends based on shared hobbies or work or exposure. They generally don’t go real deep – just being together counts as a great get-together.

Women’s friendships are a whole ‘nother animal; so much more complicated. Complicated enough that they have levels, or go by rules of how many fingers you have on your hand, or what season in life you’re in. Having moved around the country for the last thirty years, women’s friendship is something that’s been of interest to me. It’s puzzled, confused, and wounded me, especially when I was given a schooling on how someone’s circle was already complete and there was no room for me. It’s also surprised me at times when I wasn’t expecting it to pop up, or grow. When I’ve been warmly encouraged to join in with what I expected would be a closed group.

I read an article in the paper this week (written by a woman, of course) that brought a lot of light and freedom to the whole subject. Maybe it’ll interest you? She started by saying:

“Not all friendships are meant to last forever.” Well, Amen to that!

The author said what we’ve all heard – that friendships are for a reason, season, or lifetime.

Reason – might be the club you join, or sports your kids are involved in, that sort of thing. You share that activity or event but not much else. Nice light friendships. You don’t get a whole lot out of them, but not much is required either. Everyone needs some of those.

Season – a mom’s play group might be a godsend when you have two or three toddlers. I have a daughter who is involved in MOPS and is greatly blessed by it. I could have used MOPS back in the day. When I worked full time, or part-time it was a blessing to have a few friends who also worked, and would take some time now and then to go shopping, to lunch, to fit in some girl time when we could. Now that we’re retired I am thankful for the friends I’ve made who also have retired husbands. Our schedules match, our frustrations and joys match, our calendars match. It would be hard for me to have close friends whose husbands still work and they are available all day long.

Lifetime – the ones you can count on your fingers, likely on one hand. And you may not need the thumb. I’ve had some dear, dear friends – we were so close while we were involved in the ‘reason’ or ‘season’ that it felt like we’d stay in touch for a ‘lifetime’. But when you have miles between you, and you get involved in your new life it’s awfully hard to stay in touch with those you left behind in a way that will sustain the friendship at the same level it was before.

Oh that we could give each other the freedom to move on – open our hand to let go, little by little, of those ‘reason’ and ‘season’ friendships, being thankful for what was. Knowing they will move on too, to other reasons, seasons and lifetimes.

Those few that take up the fingers on one hand? They don’t need nearly the maintaining the others do. You can go months, even years without talking or seeing each other, and when you do you just pick up where you left off. You know you treasure each other.

We’re blessed with so many ways to stay in touch these days; it’s just a matter of putting some friendships down completely, popping in to say hello and keep up with what’s going on in each other’s lives for the others, and learning what to really cherish. I’ve made the mistake of approaching a new friendship as if we’re going to be joined at the hip for life; seeing the whole ball of wax differently is like a breath of fresh air for me.

How about you? Has anyone out there struggled with this? Are you one of those who agrees that having 200 ‘friends’ on Facebook or Twitter doesn’t do much to comfort when your heart is hurting? When you need a real live, breathing person to sit across the table and share a cup of coffee and her heart? Have you completely figured it out? Or maybe you’re still just hoping and praying for that ‘reason’ or ‘season’ friend. What are your thoughts?

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 23, 2011 4:48 pm

    This was very helpful to me. It is something I needed to hear. I have been feeling guilty for the “seasonal” friendships I have had that I am no longer willing to nurture, since I am in a different “season” now. I don’t imagine I will ever have a reason to go back to where we lived in FL, but I do have one friend that I hope to maintain. Only one. She’s willing. So that is good.

    My “forever” friends indeed fit on one hand. And you are so right that they do not take the time or energy to maintain as that new ones do. This really speaks to me. It answered questions I had not even formed, and explained things I have been thinking about. Thanks, Bev.

  2. January 23, 2011 8:12 pm

    Very helpful! Thanks for sharing! : )

  3. January 23, 2011 8:30 pm

    hey that was well said! I’m looking at moving to Tulsa where my daughter lives. Having lived here all my life, the new friend thing seems daunting. I’m sure that God already has His plan in place when the time is right. I may be needing some guidance from you with all of your moving!

  4. January 24, 2011 9:49 pm

    I agree with what you’ve said. It was hard for me to come to the realization that some friends are indeed “seasonal friends.” But it is so true. Now that I do realize that, it’s a little easier to let those that need to be seasonal, be seasonal. But yet that doesn’t minimize how special the friendship was to me at the time, and I will never stop being grateful for the times we shared or for what that particular friend meant to me at the time.

  5. Kimberly permalink
    January 25, 2011 3:40 pm

    I can relate to “seasonal friends” although lately I have managed to get in touch with a few seasonal (or Christmas Card friends) through facebook that I had lost touch with. I have about four good high school friends, and we’ve never lost touch and meet once a year in the summer for lunch or dinner when I am “home.” I’ve recently had to move again, two and a half years ago, and now I have a “new” season of friends due to something at my church called “Welcoming Hearts” – which is a six week long “course” I guess, for women new to this area. Those women have become a godsend to me because I came kicking and screaming to this city, not wanting to leave my beloved state, not to mention my grown girls and the grandbabes. Still so sad about that but trying to focus on this season in my life. Enjoyed your blog. I have recently started a new encouraging blog for women at church…..and I’m perusing other blogsites. So thanks for that! Take care, Happy Blogging!

    Kim

  6. January 26, 2011 5:49 am

    Lately it has really occurred to me how most relationships are situational, more than relational… we are friends because we are going to the same places, but don’t necessarily have much in common beyond that.

    My prayer this year is that I will be a better friend, and that I will honestly evaluate some relationships and let them go peacefully, not feeling like it is failure to admit there is nothing there.

    I am so thankful for those lifetime friends… they are among the best parts of life.

  7. Knitter & quilter friend from STEELER COUNTRY permalink
    January 29, 2011 12:48 am

    Hi Bev! I met you at the knit store in McMurray and you were kind enough to invite me to join your quilting circle. I was so excited. Everyone made me feel welcome except one person who said that the group should not ask anyone else to join. I always liked it when you were there. I felt uncomfortable when you couldn’t attend. You were the life of the quilting party. Eventually, I made an excuse that I couldn’t quilt on Wednesdays and dropped out. I wish that you were still here in the burgh. You are a very kind and caring person and I enjoyed quilting with you. I was also wounded in a knitting group at a book store in South Hills village. I was the oldest person there. One of the girls in her thirties, and a good Catholic, said I don’t like to be around old people. I also left that group. I also left the knitting group at the knit store in McMurray because I couldn’t afford to buy the expensive yarns and I got the feeling that it was what was expected if wanted to knit there. I never told anyone my stories, but I feel better now that I told someone about what had happened to me. Forever in blue jeans, Your quilting friend from Pgh. GO STEELERS!!!!!

  8. gayle permalink
    February 2, 2011 9:08 pm

    wow, what a timely message. I have moved so much in my married life and I have realized my friends for the most part have been situational or seasonal. I am 67 and I am very fussy about the people I want to spend time with now. I am very close to my family even though we are far apart, I have been blessed with a hard driving successful husband and we are able to travel to see our family members often and have them join us in different places. BUT, I do miss having friends that Are not family, I like the new stories. I am young in mind but am turned aside by the younger girls, as your friend was. My husband doesn’t understand as he doesn’t care about a lot of people around him. I hope you go further with this thought.

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