Why It’s Harder To Maintain Friendships The Older You Get

I consider myself lucky to have five close friends from my childhood. Five friends who I can call in an emergency situation. Friends who I can call when I’m feeling like anyone but myself. People who I can share a bottle of wine with as they listen to the same sob story on repeat.

Friends who are there for the myriad of insignificant moments and always there for the big ones. Like, when my mother died: my friends left work without a second thought to come be with me. Their husbands and boyfriends carried my mother’s casket, some of whom she never had a chance to meet.

True friends are hard to come by, and for those select five, we sometimes still question the validity of our friendships. We still argue. We’ll sometimes go months and months without seeing one another. We’ll learn about the trivial things (and the big things) over a warm macchiato from Starbucks. There are moments when we’ll get on the phone and neither of us will have anything to say, and I’ve learned that it has nothing to do with the fact that we’re busy with our own lives as much as it has everything to do with us all being in different phases that we can’t always relate to.

I consider myself to be a particular case. Not many women get married when they’re 18-years old, fresh-faced and fresh out of high school. When I was divorced at 21, many of my friends were settling down in those relationships that would turn into something serious down the line. When my best friend had a baby, I was at the bar chugging back vodka sours like I was being paid to do it.

When I was single with my heart tied to the soles of my shoes, I was bitter about my friends’ romantic escapades. When I was struggling to find work, it seemed like they had all been hunkered down and successful in their careers. And then, when my mom died from breast cancer when I was 26, I felt like I had been tossed into another universe-one that’s exclusive to only those who had buried a parent. The situation felt dank and isolating.

The list goes on and on and now, at almost 30-years old, we’re all kind of on the same wavelength. We’re all married, if not engaged.. But, even then, it shows how much our journeys still differ. That’s the hardest thing about maintaining friendships when you’re an adult: your lives are constantly in motion.

We can’t always relate to one another because our situations are so varied. We could say that it’s harder to maintain friendships as an adult because of time constraints. We have busy work schedules and preoccupying relationships. Trust me, there is a lot of truth in that. But, when I think about my friendships: those five people I consider myself truly lucky to have, there are still so many parts of their lives I can’t relate to.

I can’t relate to the unrivaled strength my friend shows to raise her Autistic son. I can’t relate to what it’s like to receive stares and insulting, uneducated whispers when she has to cover his ears when he hears a loud noise, or how he acts up in public, or when someone asks him a question and he isn’t able to answer.

I can’t relate to the heartache my friend feels every time she scrolls past a pregnancy announcement on Facebook. I can’t relate to the pain of coming up empty-handed for years or the invasive procedures-or her persistent bravery.

I can’t relate to my father never being able to walk me down the aisle, like my best friend. I can’t relate to growing up without a dad, and missing out on all the memories I’m trying to desperately hold on to with the recent passing of my mom.

I can’t relate to being irrevocably in love with someone year after year and always having to play a game and hold tight to wishful thinking that it’ll one day happen.

They can’t relate to losing a mom at 26. They can’t relate to that pain and suffering I felt when planning my wedding the same year she died, or the sheer luck that I somehow managed to get through it.

It’s hard to keep in mind that not everyone is fighting the same battle you are, even when you have friends that can emphasize with you. When you’re fighting a battle, sometimes it’s hard to remember that there are people around you who care, or at the very least, are trying their best to learn about your journey.

Your friends are there at the end of the day, perhaps not understanding all the emotions you’re feeling, but there to crack open a bottle of wine and sit in silence at your favorite booth at the Olive Garden, eating the same old meal, not talking about the things we can’t understand and instead – just providing the silent support that we need more than ever.

Maintaining friendships as an adult is hard because we’re often going through major life events at different moments. Sometimes experiences match up and we can relate to the pain and suffering of a miscarriage, being fired from a job, heartache, divorce, or death. Other times, we may be so far removed from our friends’ experiences that it can feel isolating. While it sounds like there may be sadness in that bitter truth, there shouldn’t be. Friendships we carry into adulthood aren’t there to help us through the battles. They are there to serve as reminders that we can actually get through them.

Featured image via Simon Maage on Unsplash


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