Change is Good

Jul 30, 2015 by

          On Tuesday night, a friend texted me to ask a really good question: “Do you feel like you need to talk to your friends every day to maintain a certain level of friendship? I feel like you’d have amazing input.”

          I think having someone you’re in touch with daily is a beautiful thing when it happens naturally, but I don’t think it’s necessary to establish or maintain closeness. Friendship maintenance depends on the nature of each particular friendship. I have great friendships with people that I don’t even talk to monthly, and our relationships remain unaffected because frequent communication isn’t an expectation. I think it’s when the nature of a relationship changes that the state of a friendship tends to come into question, like when you go from talking every day to not talking every day. Even if the change happens by consequence of life circumstances and isn’t personal, it could make two people feel less close because they’re accustomed to more communication than they’re having now. It doesn’t have to affect the bond though. Whether the relationship is sustained or not depends on whether each person’s expectations of the friendship can still be met.

          Note that over the course of a friendship, especially a long one, each person’s expectations will change. As long as both people are willing to meet each other’s changing needs, the friendship can continue without sacrificing connection, even though that connection may look different than before. A simple example of this is going from talking to your friends on the phone for hours at a time in high school to mainly texting instead as you get older because it’s easier throughout the workday (or technology happened). This doesn’t make two friends less close. Rather, it demonstrates that there are different ways of maintaining closeness. What a friendship looks like as it evolves doesn’t really matter. What matters is that mutual benefit and fulfillment are still being derived from it.

          I think the risk of drifting as change happens lies more in the fear of drifting than in the actuality. I think it’s the result of overanalyzing change. It’s easy to think ourselves into something that isn’t real, and create rifts in our relationships as a result. I lost a friend that way, before I understood that differences in how often we talked or saw each other as we got older didn’t mater as much as being able to rely on one another and being happy for each other. During times that we didn’t communicate as often as we were used to, I worried that we were drifting, which is ultimately what caused us to drift.

          If we go into friendships expecting them to change, however, we can be more adaptable when they do. Change doesn’t have to be threatening. It may make you sad, and it’s fine to feel the nostalgia. It’s okay to sometimes miss an old friend or an old version of a friendship. But understand that your new state is more opportune than disappointing. Embracing change can spare good friendships, lead to new ones, and strengthen others. The changing state of friendships allows you to connect with different people at different points. I think that’s as beautiful as having someone to talk to every day.

Happiness Tip: Let your friendships change.

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