The Challenge of Adult Friendships

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The Challenge of Adult Friendships is something that isn’t spoken about very often, but I want to share my heart with you now.

I got to celebrate my 40th birthday over the weekend, and it was exactly the celebration I didn’t realize I needed. I wanted to first share my thoughts on the challenges I’ve experienced in my adult friendships.

adult girlfriend photo shoot

In sharing these fun pictures of my best girlfriends that traveled into town to be with me to celebrate, I want to share the struggle I’ve had over the years with friends. I think a lot of people may look at me or my social media and see someone who is lucky to have so many friends. And don’t get my wrong, I’m grateful. But I also have felt strongly for a while that I want to share the challenges I’ve found in adult friendships.  Because I know there has got to be a lot of people out there that have struggled as well.  And if I can help anyone feel less lonely about their situation by sharing mine, then I want to take on the challenge to share.

I’ve actually started writing about this several times over the past 5 years, and shared another angle in another post.  I don’t want to hurt anyones feelings! It’s hard for me to say “I’ve not felt I’ve had a close friend in the way I needed it” without hurting people that consider themselves that person to me. I’ve actually shared this feeling with a few good friends, and come out of it thinking, “I am SUCH A JERK for crying to them about not having a good friend, when they are BEING a good friend!”

Expectations in Friendships

I love people. I crave deep relationships. Everyone I meet, I consider a friend.  Each person on this earth has a story to share and I seek to find that in people. I don’t do well with surface friendships or conversations, which I think can often be seen to some as abrupt. I either go deep or not at all. And that’s a flaw I’m trying to work on.

As I mentioned, I’ve found my expectations of people haven’t always been met. And it’s something that I’ve really had to have a good stern talking with myself about.  I struggle to try not be so sensitive.  I’ve felt hurt by others that I know don’t always intend to be hurtful. The challenges of adult friendships run deep.

I’ve been in a strange mental space with friends the last few years. I’ve been unintentionally let down or hurt by people.  That disappointment sometimes prevents me from remembering all of the good friends that I have in my life. I have some really great people that love me, evidenced by what you see here.  But at times, I’ve wanted more than others can give, and felt rejected.

That sometimes led to having a horrible ‘whoa is me’ mentality (in our family, we call it the Eeyore Syndrome).  Leaving me feeling like no one cares.  In hindsight, I KNOW THAT WAS NOT TRUE.  But at times, I actually felt that it was. It’s amazing the tricks our minds can play on us.

Why do we let negativity rule like that?  In the past I have had a person that I talked to every day, ran everything by, and planned our days together.  Not having had that for a few years creates a twinge of loneliness that left me feeling that I don’t have a best friend.

dancing with friends

Comparison is the Thief of Joy in all Things, Including Relationships.

On social media, I’d see girls trips and I would feel that pang of sadness that I don’t have a similar girl gang. So, for my birthday a few years ago, I thought I’d create my own local girlfriend adventure.  I took some friends out to dinner and we snapped some epic pictures downtown. We had a great time!  I got my temporary happiness being able to share that I too have good friends.  And they truly ARE my good friends.  But I felt I had something to prove to myself with those pictures.

A lot of tears have been shed over finding my place in the world of adult girlfriends.  I LOVE to be needed by friends.  Even though I juggle many things, feeling needed by people is important to me.  I’ve gone through bouts of not feeling it.  Also, I initiate a great deal in friendships and it is hard when I don’t feel that reciprocated.

What I really wanted was to be someones only friend that they went to for everything, every day. I had built up an unrealistic ideal in my mind.

Every time I think that, I get MAD at myself! I have so so many people that I adore, and it’s not hard for me to confide in people.  I’ve had to convince myself that it’s ok to not have one person who is everything to me.  I can delight in the many people who make me feel happy in their presence. The people who have leant their shoulder for me to cry on, been a sounding board, and lifted me up. I may not have an everyday, all the time person, but I’ve got people I can go to any day and anytime. Truly it has just been a switch in mindset for me.

7 adult best friends photo shoot

Why Adult Friendships are Hard

With all of my kids in school, my dynamics are also different than they’ve been in the past. I don’t have a weekly-play-group-vent-session at the park, I have to intentionally arrange lunches with friends. And often times, I prefer the quiet of my home office to setting an appointment to actually go somewhere. I’ve turned into a bit of a recluse.  I believe in venting out my feelings, but I’ve also been reminded (by myself and others) that it’s NOT OK to vent to everyone around me when I’m upset with someone.  To me it’s venting my frustrations, to others it’s gossip and unkind. I get it. I’ve unintentionally burned other people in my wake at times.

best friend photo shoot

I think that both feeling this shift in adult friendship dynamics, and my kids getting older, I actually have felt less of a need for that girlfriend bestie. I think I partly WILLED that upon myself so that my heart would hurt less, but it’s also true that I actually LOVE being with my family, and don’t want to leave in the evenings as much as I needed it when my kids were little, because I ACTUALLY WANT TO HANG OUT WITH THEM! So in a way, I’m grateful for all of this, because it’s allowed me to pour more into my family. My husband has always been an amazing sounding board for me, and knows the need I have in my life for female relationships.

adult girlfriends dancing

Finding Peace in Relationships

I share all of this NOW because I’m actually in a very good place with all of my adult friendship woes. Not much has changed, except my mindset.  I know that I have people that love and care for me near and far. But we don’t talk every day.  Or even every month. Many times it is a rare treat that we have a conversation, but when it comes, it’s oh-so-sweet.

I know that I likely have something that is envious to others.  But I truly hope in writing this that it offers a bit of hope. Relationships are complicated. Adult friendships are hard.  Even those people that will take a bullet for you, can’t be everything you need all the time.  That’s something I’ve had to pound into my heart and mind. I may put forth more effort, more than I think I should, but it doesn’t mean I’m loved any less. We all have different strengths.

There are so many ladies who I know truly would go to the moon and back for me, they showed up in throngs when my mom passed away 2 years ago, in various ways. You’ll see more of them pictured at the celebration, and some that you won’t see because they couldn’t make it.

But these girls right here in these pictures, they are a big part of my heart and soul when it comes to adult friendships.  We have weathered storms together.  They’ve stuck by me as I’ve made mistakes.  And made the HUGE effort to travel into my hometown for a girls weekend to come celebrate turning 40 with me.  I am truly grateful. I’m anxious to share more of our girls weekend getaway, and how I aimed to spoil them.

If you’ve got a friendship that’s worth celebrating, or even just hoping for something more, be proactive, don’t give up hope. And maybe, if you are feeling bold, coordinate your outfits.  Organize an excursion and take photos!  Because these friendships really should be embraced, and I believe, documented in a FUN WAY!

the blessing of adult friendships

{Tripod and self timer used in all of these shots.}

Listen to us chat in podcast episode #25: Mom talk with my friends


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