AdviceHey, Bonita!

Balancing Life and Long-term Friendships

Hey Bonita, 

Over the summer, I reconnected with two separate friends (must have been something in the air) that I used to be extremely close with in my early 20s. In the past, both friendships just kind of fizzled out due to life being busy, etc. So it was really nice to catch up and jump right back into the friendship like no time passed—it was this way for both of them. We still had a genuine connection, talking about real things, not just your youthful “party” friends. It felt so nice to have these people back in my life that I kind of silently promised myself not to let life get between things again and to keep the friendships alive. 

Well, a couple months later and BOTH friends are unresponsive. We don’t exactly live close, so it was mostly an online/texting friendship anyway. It just seems so strange to me that it wasn’t just one but TWO friendships following the exact same pattern. What did I do? Or not do? I’m not sure, but after just a couple of spread-out, “How are you?”’s, I figured it was best to leave them alone. Keeping long-term friendships alive seems so hard, how do you keep these people in your life? 

Confused Friend

Hey Confused,

I heavily relate to this. I’m no spring chicken either, but I am still in touch with my besties from elementary, middle and high school. I see my middle and high school besties at least once a year, but it’s not without some effort on everyone’s part. You’re right, it takes a lot of work to keep long-term friendships going, but that work shouldn’t feel like work. If it does, then maybe you’re forcing something that isn’t meant to be.

When I think of my relationships with my oldest friends, they really do just kind of ebb and flow in a way that doesn’t feel particularly orchestrated. On Monday, I got a text from my 3rd grade bestie, just some general well-wishes and platonic love declarations, but I hadn’t seen or spoken to her since my dad’s funeral at the end of May. Before then, we hadn’t had direct contact beyond social media likes since Christmas. And I don’t get offended by that lack of contact, because we’re both grown, you know? We live states apart and both have careers and educations that we’re managing, and it’s natural for those things to take up a big slice of anyone’s daily attention span. So, one of us will reach out when the other is on their mind, and we’ll make plans for when we’re both going to be in our hometown or in the same area. One of our mutual ride-or-die best friends lives in Colorado, and we intend to take a trip there in the near future, but none of us feel pressure to get anything on the books just yet because hey, we’re all busy, but life will calm down eventually, and we’ll all Facetime about it sooner or later.  No biggie.

This is all to say that I recommend extending some grace to your friends in the same way that you’d want grace extended to yourself when you need to play catch-up on your contacts. This recent lack of communication does not seem like an indication that they are choosing to pull away from you or anything like that, unless you know something that you haven’t shared with me. You know whether or not these friends are shady types, so you can judge their intentions best. But I don’t recommend letting your thoughts about this snowball into, “They hate me and don’t want to talk to me,” unless they’ve given you direct indications of such.  

Two months of no contact can really sting, but that’s normal for me and my ride-or-dies. Someone has to leave someone else on “read” eventually for the conversation to end, so keep that in mind. Manage your expectations around regular contact with busy adults, but also feel free to let any relationship come to its natural conclusion. There are plenty of old “best friends” that I no longer talk to, and that is perfectly fine.

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