“It feels like my best friend is pulling away from me. She’s spending more time with the friends and less time with me. I’m hurt but obviously can’t say, “Stop spending time with other people.” I just want to feel included and like she still cares about me. But I feel like bringing anything up will just further strain the relationship. What should I do?”
First of all, I am so sorry. I truly am. It’s miserable when your best friend–that person you trust more than anyone in the world–lets you down. It’s hurtful on so many levels and I want you to know that I get it, and at one point or another, everyone has, or will, experienced this.
What I’m about to say… well, you may not like it. But try to hear me out.
Most friends are for a season of time. My friend, Jenn, used to always say that friends can fall in three categories.
For a reason. For a season. For a lifetime.
1. For a reason.
There are some friends that come into our live for a very specific reason. Perhaps there is a specific lesson we learn from their friendship or a situation we’re going through that only that person can relate. I have a few friends I can easily point to and say they were a “reason” friend. Coping with a break up, a difficult job situation, and a move to Nashville. I am certain God put those people in my life to help me navigate some of those challenges. I’m still in touch with them in varying degrees, but they aren’t the bosom buddies to me today that they were during those specific times.
2. For a season.
There are friends who are really important, our best friends, but are only part of our lives for a season. At some point, they move, change schools, they get married, have babies, or things just change and you grow a part. This is a hard category, because we really resist this. I think we feel like we’ve failed if a deep friendship begins to dwindle or change. It seems like we’ve wasted all that time investing in that relationship and that suddenly none of it is worth anything. The whole two years of being best friends with that girl is now over and therefore we just chuck it all in the trash can. But that’s just not true.
My dad recently commented, “All relationship, ALL relationships are transitional. Except for marriages, all relationships change in commitment, depth, and meaning. Frankly, most marriages do, too, unless you are growing in Christ and have a tenacious commitment to the relationship.”
The point is that, we often have expectations that friendships will stay exactly the same or continue at the same level of depth, when in reality, no friendship or relationship is going to always be the same.
3. For a lifetime.
Now that I’ve said that, I do believe that there are just a handful of friends that will stick with you for a lifetime. But you’ll probably only be able to count them on one–if you’re crazy lucky–two hands. If you are 18 or 20 years old, it may be that you’ve grown up with the same really close group of friends. But as you grow older, live in more places, garner more experiences, you will meet hundreds of new people and those close relationships will shift and move. By the time you’re 80 years old, you won’t have been able to stay best friends with all the people who during a season were very close relationships. It will just be a very small few.
So, after all that, back to your question. It’s very, very possible that this best friend of yours is a season friend. And that’s okay. It’s okay to be sad and to grieve the change, but don’t start thinking that your whole friendship was a waste, or untrue, or now has failed. Those are total lies.
How do you respond to her? Keep being the kind of friend to her that you would want in return, but hold your friendship with open hands. If you try to grab a hold of her and grip tightly, you will strangle her and your friendship. But if you hold it loosely, you are keeping the door open to a continued, though different, friendship. You need to start accepting that your friendship with her is changing and start looking around to see what other friends you can be investing in.
If she is a lifetime friend, she’ll come back at some point. But like my dad said, all relationships are always shifting, changing, waxing and waning. I’ll leave you with one example. I had lots of close friends in high school but only one best girl friend. As we went off to college, we stayed very close in the beginning. I would visit her on breaks and vice versa. But then, the farther along we got in college, we slowly grew a part. It wasn’t over anything specific; there wasn’t any conflict or fight. But the longer she lived in Boston and the longer I lived in Virginia, it just got harder to maintain our closeness. Now, I still adore her and occasionally we’ll text or send a random email update, but we’ll never have the same friendship we did as when we were in high school. That doesn’t mean I love her any less or that those years of best friendship were a waste. That’s just how life unfolds.
So keep being a good friend, but if your bestie is pulling away– let her go. Ask God to show you what new friendships you can be pouring into. Be a good friend, love people well, and hold those friendships loosely.