My girlfriend and I were chatting the other day about friendships... How they last or don't? How many is too many? How do they change as we age and go through different seasons of life?
I would love to just bring light to this topic as it is definitely something that is ever changing.
One of the first things I'd like to discuss is the different types of friendships. I like to look at friendships inner circle friends, and then circle of friends moving outwardly from that. Thinking of my friendships in this way helps me set expectations for my different friendships, and it helps me keep disappointments at bay. When you have clear expectations and less disappointments, your friendships, no matter the circle they are in can last! The type of qualities that you feel are needed in each realm of friendship is subjective and totally up to you and the energy you are willing to spend in that friendship. This may be a very good topic to journal about!
Next, I like to think about what a friend is to me from each of these circles?
To me, an inner circle friend is a mutual relationship where we can both be there for each other. We fill each others cup. They know when to be on your side and hype you up, but also when to challenge you to a different perspective or tell you when you are wrong. A good mutual friendship, both parties know when to listen, and when to give advice. We can be happy for each other when something good is happening in the other ones life. Encourage and support each other when life is heavy. Listen to each others stories, or help process things several times if it's needed. You do your very best to prioritize their life events like showers, weddings, etc. but also have grace for each other when they can't make it work because you know if they could, they would.
Maybe the next circle of friendship can be that you check in with each other a couple times a month, you make sure to tell them happy birthday. You are there for each other when they other one needs to talk. You check in on them when they are sick or discouraged. If you are available for their events or parties, you go. You're still close, but there is a mutual understanding of how that friendship functions.
The outer circle consist of the people you love and are friends with. That you more than likely won't be able to make the party or shower, but if you can or you are available you will. You hear from them or reach out maybe once every couple of months. You tell them happy birthday and happy holidays. You like, love, and comment on their social media. Maybe check in on them if you know they are sick, or not well in some way. This friendship is a still a good friendship, but also a mutual understanding of how the friendship works.
Okay! Here is the tricky part! These friendships rotate circles through different seasons of life! For instance, one of my outer circle friends who is a mommy became one of my middle circle friends more recently since I have been pregnant. On the other hand, as so much has changed in this season of life for me, a couple of my inner circle friends have moved to the middle circle. This transition and movement of friendships in my life through this season has been especially hard for me. When you notice that you go through different seasons and challenges, it is hard to relate and to understand where the other friend is coming from. Another example of this is one of my longer friends have been totally relative and on the same page, then things changed and we were middle to outer circle friends, then as we are both pregnant at the same time, we are now inner circle friends in this season. So, my biggest advice is to try to not get too attached to a certain person being in a certain circle of friendship. We have to be flexible and learn how to let go, and let life move around us. Understanding we are not in control of other people and the seasons of life they go through at the same time that we are walking through our own life. To extend love and grace to all of the circles of our friends, and when things change, let them change with ease.
If you are someone that has a lot of friends, having the "circle of friends" chat with yourself not only releases you of having certain expectations with them, but alos with yourself. This helps you to understand that you can't make it to ALL of the birthdays, showers, and parties. That you may go to your inner circle friend's birthday party, but your outer circle friend may only get a text or phone call for their birthday. This truly releases you from the idea that you have to give 100% to all of your friendships. It is also nice because your middle and outer circle friends understand that, and truly only have the same to offer back. Not that it's a reflection of the quality of friend they are, but the energy they have to offer in this season of their life.
I would love to know your thoughts and opinions on this topic! How do you manage your friendships?