Navigating the Complexities of Adult Friendships

Navigating the Complexities of Adult FriendshipsLately, I feel like I am failing at being a good friend. I do not know if this feeling of inadequacy about my adult friendships was brought on by the complexities of life in 2020 {you know, a global pandemic} or if this is just what happens as we age and move and are at different stages of life than others.

If you judge my friendships by social media, you’d probably think I had this all figured out. But I don’t.

The truth is, my friendship funk has got me all in my feelings.

Simpler Times

Friendship as an adult is a moving target. It’s not like it was in third grade, when I spent every school day in class with my best friend, and we alternated houses each weekend for sleepovers. Back then our biggest conflict was that her mom gave me a very cool jean purse at her birthday party as a prize for winning a game. “But it is MY birthday…” I can remember that moment like it was yesterday instead of thirty years ago. And yes, I did just do a double take when I realized it was THIRTY years ago. Where did the time go?

Feeling Like I’m Failing My Friends

But maintaining friendships in 2020 is decidedly way more complex. I have had thoughts creep into my head almost daily lately that I am not doing my best to be a good friend to those I consider {or once considered} near and dear. Sometimes I think I am too selfish. Too guarded. Sometimes I try to justify it:: you know, the pandemic, and the fact that friendships are two-way streets. Sometimes I am in denial that our friendships must have been for a season instead of a lifetime. But at the end of the day, I simultaneously feel that I am not doing good enough and that I am doing my best.

So which is it? I have no idea.

I shared these thoughts with some close friends recently {yes, I do have friends}, and one reminded me that friendship is a two-way street. So, as a little backstory here, my family moved back to Houston in mid-2019 after living abroad for five years. We were able to maintain a few friendships due to technological advances like social media and FaceTime. I felt like I did a pretty good job at keeping up with most of the people who meant the most to me, while also trying to grow friendships in new countries. But now we are back in Houston, not terribly close to these people {because well . . . Houston is big and so dang spread out}, but I feel like once we made the initial reconnections, things sort of fizzled. 

Is It Possible to Outgrow Adult Friendships?

We’re different than we were. Maybe that is part of it. We are different as a family, and I am different as a person. It is impossible {at least in my mind} to have had the experiences we have had and to remain the same. As my son so proudly shared with me today, he learned at school that you are either in a “growth mindset” or a “fixed mindset.” Second grade teacher for the win, y’all. It is no coincidence that my word for 2020 was “growth.” For what it is worth, I think it still totally applies . . . 

But I never intended to outgrow my friends. I want my friends in my life. But I also want them to want to be in my life. 

The COVID Conundrum

Don’t get me wrong, I do have plenty of casual friends. I just feel like some friendships are definitely fading. And the sense of connection with my close friends is growing weaker with each passing month of 2020. I wish I could see my friends. I feel guilt about not inviting them over or meeting them out, but I also feel guilty and a bit uneasy doing those things in the midst of COVID-19.

So, what am I left with? Phone calls and FaceTime? Those bring on a bit of anxiety, and I am not good at doing either consistently probably because of the anxiety. I do try to make time to call those who have shown initiative and reached out to me. But truthfully, texting and social media messaging are more my speed. I can send messages at my convenience for them to read at their convenience. I do not have to worry about interrupting anything important. But casual messaging can hardly sustain a friendship.  

Friends Who Bring Out the Best In You

I’ve also taken stock of my adult friendships, lamely enough, thanks to this quote:: “Pay attention to who you are with when you feel your best.” I have no idea who said it or where I originally read it, or I would attribute it properly. But the truth is, I think about it all the time. I do actively try to keep those people in my circle. If I am not smiling most of the time when we are together or talking on the phone, it’s kind of a red flag for me because “I just like to smile! Smiling’s my favorite.”—Buddy the Elf. 

If you have any tips for navigating adult friendships, please share them in the comments.  I would love to hear what other Houston moms have to say.


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2 Responses to Navigating the Complexities of Adult Friendships

  1. Lisa Owen
    Lisa Owen September 21, 2020 at 10:28 am #

    I love that your word for 2020 is “growth”. Mone is “survive”. 😂

    • Christy G
      Christy G October 4, 2020 at 10:13 pm #

      Lisa,
      I was definitely in survival mode for the entirety of 2018. I totally get it! Thanks for sharing!

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