There’s a saying I’ve seen on social media that goes something like, “If someone is your friend for more than seven years, you’ll be friends forever.” While that can be true, it isn’t always. It stands to reason that if you’ve been friends with someone for a long time, the friendship will last forever. But sometimes friends grow apart. Sometimes friends fight. Friendships are constantly evolving — there is no one way to guarantee that they’ll last.
Sometimes, in spite of all your best efforts, friendships end. The friendships that do last though, don’t always come easy — maintaining friendships as an adult is hard. But there are always ones that are worth it.
Sometimes you’re lucky enough to be able to nurture friendships for your entire life. It’s rare, but it is possible. I’m thankful I’m still friends with my very first best friends. We’ve been friends since we were three years old. In the 30-something years we’ve known each other, naturally we’ve come in and out of each other’s lives a bunch of times. At this point, I don’t think all three of us have been in the same place in about ten years. But through it all, we’ve been each other’s cheering sections through puberty, breakups, marriages, babies, and cross-country moves. I don’t think any of us can imagine our lives without each other. And somehow I know we’ll always be friends.
Friendships from childhood and adolescence are hard to maintain into adulthood. Without the things we once had in common to hold us together, finding new things to keep us bonded outside of shared memories can be hard.
I thought my high school besties would be my besties for life. They were there for so many important moments of my teen years. Even through college and into our 20s, those bonds remained tight. But as we’ve grown older, we’ve also grown further and further apart. Things we could overlook about each other at 16 became things we couldn’t overlook now that we’re in our 30s. I’ll always look back warmly on the times we had together, because whether or not we knew it at the time, those times helped to shape the woman I am today.
Friendships are a reflection of who you are and what you need. While we are constantly evolving, there comes a time when we know what the make-and-breaks are in friendship. And once you know what your deal breakers are, naturally you will begin to seek out friendships that fit. Unfortunately, we also know that some friendships will get left behind.
Just like romantic relationships, friendships are work. But when they become too much work, that’s usually when you know it’s time to let them go. If you’re always the one putting in the effort with no reward, that’s also when it’s time to let a friendship go. If we can learn anything from the KonMari method, if a friendship doesn’t “spark joy,” then it’s time to get rid of it.
Ending a friendship is hard, even if you know it’s something you need to do. For me, ending a friendship is even harder than ending a romantic relationship. Ending a friendship is like admitting failure, which isn’t something I’m good at. Even if I know a friendship isn’t working, I’ll hold onto it in the hopes that maybe it will magically somehow fix itself. Of course, it almost never happens that way, and soon you just find yourselves drifting further and further apart until they’re reduced to a face you see on social media.
It’s weird seeing someone who was once such a huge part of your life being relegated to not much more than a Facebook friend whose status you occasionally like. But it’s natural and normal.
As far as the friendships that last, they don’t last simply because they’re easy. They last because you mutually bring value to each other’s lives. Those friends are there for you when you need someone to bitch to. And they’re there to cheer you on and celebrate your successes. When you need a shoulder to cry on, they offer theirs without hesitation. Or maybe they’ve already gone through what you’re going through and they’re proof that you too will survive.
The thing I’m learning as friendships end is, every friend you have is in your life for a reason. Maybe they’re not meant to be in your life forever. Perhaps the sole purpose of your friendship is to teach you something about the world or about yourself. Or maybe they’re there to teach you how to be a better friend to the people who are meant to stay in your life. Sometimes they bring other people into your life because that other person is meant to be by your side forever.
Friendships as an adult are definitely quality over quantity. I’d rather have four really good friends that want to be by side than tons of friends who aren’t bringing anything of value to the table. Sometimes the people you think will be there forever aren’t.
It’s okay to miss the ones who go — but cherish the ones who stay.
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