So often, I read that it’s not important to have so many friends as you get older.
I don’t disagree with the sentiment, of course there’s no shame in choosing your friends carefully. But I want to explain what growing out of friends really means.
It’s so easy to lose touch with people as time goes by. When you have children, it becomes even more difficult to find time for your friends.
But if you’re currently going down this path and find yourself speaking to old buddies less and less frequently, here are a few things to consider.
One day, you’ll get to a point where nobody calls.
The friendly text messages will stop and invitations to go out will be a distant memory.
That’s okay when you have children at home or people to chat to at work. Your days are busy and not having to leave the house in the evenings is a relief.
But not every day is rosy.
One day, something will go wrong. Perhaps something that your partner doesn’t understand. Perhaps one day they won’t be there.
So who do you turn to?
The friends you used to speak to every week. But every week turned into every month. Every month turned into every year.
Now a decade has passed. It doesn’t seem right to get in touch just because times are tough.
Then there are the times of joy and celebration.
You get a new job, achieve a lifetime ambition or see your child take the leading role in a school play and bring the house down.
You grab the phone, desperate to tell someone who will understand. Then you remember. The phone goes back on the table.
When you do go out, socialising is more difficult.
You used to be able to chat to anyone, you’d pride yourself on it. But suddenly, you find yourself in a social situation and it’s not so easy.
You chat about the children, ask after theirs. Perhaps you’ll find a subject that you both have an interest in.
But there’s no common ground, no anecdotes of shared experience to laugh about.
The people you’re socialising with now aren’t your friends, they are acquaintances at best.
The people who have always known you have their own lives now.
You think about each other from time to time. Maybe even every day.
But you don’t pick up the phone.
The moment has passed, your friendship is all but over.
They have become acquaintances as well.
Perhaps some day you’ll run into them. You’ll exchange pleasantries and go on your way.
Assigning them to your past.
Old friends. The people who supported you, laughed with you, cried with you and shaped you into who you are. But there is no place for them in your future.
And only then do you realise that it’s acceptable to have fewer friends as you get older. But that doesn’t make it any less lonely.
Pick up the phone.