I’ve personally lost three friends in the past two years or so that were people who I thought would be forever friends.
These were folks who stood beside me on my wedding day, and that I envisioned having a women’s circle with when we were 85 and gray.
I’ve cried over it. Had sleepless nights over it. Grappled with it and not understood it. I’ve been angry about it. I’ve held on and been in lack of acceptance over it and not known how to let it go.
The suckiness of losing friends and loved ones is sometimes what I see hold people back from diving head first into their own personal growth journey: the fear that they will leave people behind if they change.
There is grief in losing friends. This deserves honest conversation and space.
*And*, there is grief in not allowing your own souls expansion, in stunting your growth to try to force yourself to fit where you may have outgrown.
This is what we often miss when we are trying so hard to desperately hold onto things that may no longer be for us.
We can want so badly to hold onto the familiarity of how things were (including a past version of ourselves that we aren’t ready to let go of), the comfort of old friends and relationships, that we stagnate.
Here are a few things that I think it’s very helpful and important to consider if you find yourself in a period of growth that has resulted in shifts in your friendships:
Growth is Normal + Natural
The only time when things don’t change is when something is either a) dead or b) refusing the natural evolution and progression of your soul.
Change is GOOD. Growth is GOOD.
How boring would it be if you stayed the same forever?
Can you imagine if you hadn’t changed at all since you were in high school, for example?
Being open to challenging your once so certain views, beliefs, assumptions, ways of being and doing, and choosing to change is courageous.
There is no inherent honor in staying the same the longest for other people’s comfort.
This is for their benefit, not your own. It allows them to continue to keep you in the same box you’ve always been in and not have to relate to *you*, just their idea of you.
Have you been potentially making changing synonymous with doing something “wrong”, even subconsciously?
When Friendships No Longer Fit
When you choose to grow and change, some friendships will withstand those changes, and others will not.
A lot of this will be dependent on how well you each tolerate, relate to, and celebrate difference in your relationships.
This change doesn’t necessarily have to mean a big conversation (although that can certainly happen if you want it to).
You can also just allow a natural drifting apart that is a more accurate reflection of the current status of your friendship.
There is so much freedom in allowing things to be what they are instead of trying to force them to be different.
It can be helpful to know for yourself a list of qualities or things that no longer work for you in your friendships as a means to clarify where to spend your time and energy.
For me, I know that I’m no longer willing to allow these things in my inner circle:
- People who give me unsolicited advice (often laced with contempt)
- Those who need me to think, act, and believe exactly the same things as them in order to “belong”
- People who are incapable of nuanced conversations and default to us vs. them mentalities
- People who can’t be with my bigness: both my joys and my sorrows
- People who have shown inability to make repair
- Non-reciprocal relationships
- People who insist on toxic positivity and aren’t capable of holding the tension of beauty *and* pain
- People who are unable to accept my boundaries or honest capacity limitations and take those personally
- People who avoid necessary difficult conversations
Know Your Tendency
I am the effort QUEEN. What I mean by this is, if I believe in and want something, I will give it my 100% effort, every time.
This tendency of mine has made me double down on friendships in the past that were just simply past their expiration date.
Not all friendships are meant to last forever, and quite a lot of them are actually for a specific season.
It can be so important when it comes to friendships to know your own tendency:
Do you have a tendency to be an effort queen like myself?
Or perhaps you have a tendency to allow things to drift and put in little effort a little too quickly?
For myself as an effort queen, my current edge is allowing things to drift when I know that I’ve done all that I can, and not needing to have to “fix” it or have a big conversation about it. I get to just allow things to be what they are.
Conversations or Allowing Distance
Something I always hear from my clients is, “How do I know when to move on and allow things to drift apart? How do I know when to bring something up?”
This is so incredibly nuanced to each individual person, so it’s not something I can answer without some back and forth dialogue with you.
However, I want to share a few things:
If you aren’t conscious of doing anything to cause harm, don’t assume that any distance you’re experiencing is because of something you did.
If you aren’t conscious of the cause of the distance and there *is* something that you did, then it’s the other person’s responsibility to bring that up to you, and you can trust them with their own process with that.
And concerning how to know when to move on there are some good questions to ask yourself:
- Is this relationship reciprocal?
- How long have I felt like I’ve been putting forth effort and it hasn’t been reciprocated (if it’s not)?
- Am I being nourished by this relationship?
- Is this someone who I want to have in my inner circle–now, today (not past versions of them)?
- Am I holding on to this person because of who they WERE to me or who they are NOW?
- Am I willing for things to stay the same in this relationship? Have I done all that I can to make it more nourishing?
- What time and energy feels good to invest in this friendship at this point?
There are no “right” answers, only answers that are right for YOU.
You get to choose and decide when to hold on, and when to let go, and everyone has different capacity and desires around this.
Friendships changing and ending is a normal, natural part of life and doesn’t mean that anything has gone “wrong”.
When you stunt your own growth to hold onto something that may have passed its expiration date, what do you really gain–while you lose so much of yourself.
Reflection Prompts For Your Continued Exploration:
- What is your own personal list of things that you no longer want to allow in your inner circle?
- What is your tendency in your relationships? Are you an effort queen? Or do you tend to allow things to drift perhaps too quickly?
- What are you losing by holding onto friendships or relationships that you know in your core have passed their expiration date?
- Have you been potentially making changing synonymous with doing something “wrong”, even subconsciously?
What is your experience with friendships shifting when you go through a season of person growth? Feel free to leave me a comment below, I always love hearing from you.
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