We’ve all seen those ‘perfect’ friendship groups on TV – they look happy and they’re having fun. They might have the odd argument but nothing really comes between them and it makes it easy for us to believe that they’ll be friends forever ’cause that’s how it should be, right?
But what if it’s not?
Most people make friends in stages throughout their lives. As children we make friends by following very simple rules. If a kid likes the colour purple and you like the colour purple then why wouldn’t you be BFF’s?! As young teens we begin to develop more of our own identities but we’re still a little fickle in choosing our friends. Often, we define ourselves based on stereotypes (even though they are something we complain about). Those stereotypes usually stem from the things we’re interested in – music, books, sport, etc. As adults we make friends and acquaintances through college, work and our community. These friendships are quite different from the previous ones. By the time we’ve reached adulthood most of us have a better idea of what we’re all about. We know what we’re passionate about, we have stronger opinions, we have particular morals and beliefs.
Then, there are friendships that we develop as children and teens that stay with us through all of the stages of our lives. Maybe those are rare now? (Is that because we’re always ‘on’, always busy, always tired? Or maybe because we feel that some social media messages are a decent replacement for actually spending quality time together when, really, that isn’t the case?)
One of the hardest lessons I faced when growing up was that not everyone is in your life forever. Like I said at the start, it’s easy for us to have a skewed perception of what friendship should be but the truth is that our lives aren’t an episode of Friends or How I Met Your Mother. Real life is messy and complicated and not everything works out. I felt this most acutely as a teenager when I lost a couple of people I had been very close with but for various reasons we all moved apart. Back then I was in disbelief, this was closely followed with total sadness and eventually anger. Now, I can look back on those friendships and simply value them for what they were without any negative feelings messing that up but it took time.
Losing a close friend, for whatever reason, brings about feelings similar to grief and it’s important to let yourself experience those feelings and accept them. A friendship break up isn’t always someone’s fault. Often, friends have simply grown apart. Sometimes it’s confusing and there aren’t perfect reasons as to why it’s happened but if the friendship is truly over then it’s important to make an effort to move on and eventually remember that friendship for the experience that it was.