How Friendship Changes As Our Lives Change

I was hanging out with some of my girlfriends last week and it occurred to me that I am at a point in my life where I have 2 different groups of friends; the group of friends that are all married and have children and the group of friends that still like to party. Some of the friends who still like to party are married or in a committed relationship. I don’t fit into either of these groups because although I am married, I do not yet have any children, but I also do not drink or party, I haven’t in many years. Many of our married friends and married friends with children still have a couple beers now and then, but we do not drink, which oddly seems to make other people uncomfortable. I always have to explain to people that I don’t mind if they are drinking responsibility, I personally just don’t like alcohol and don’t see the point in drinking. The same goes for my husband.

So I find myself in a position that I haven’t in the past. I have changed all of my unhealthy behaviors and habits in preparation for getting pregnant in the near future and I don’t really want to be around those unhealthy behaviors anymore. However, my best friends, who I have known for the last 15 years, if not longer, have yet to change those behaviors and still like to party. I hold no judgement against them, it’s everyone’s individual choice as to how they chose to live their lives and spend their time and money. The other aspect that comes into play is that I am a Christian and when I look at these 2 groups of friends, our married/married with children friends are all the ones who share our same values and beliefs. However and here’s the kicker, these are the friends that I am not as close with and they may or may not know about everything going on with us. So I either have to explain things that I may not want to talk about, like mental illness and chronic health problems, or I have to be around behaviors that I no longer have any desire to participate in. Again, I hold no judgement, I have only changed these behaviors in the last year myself and it was extremely hard to do. Another problem is that I leave out big parts of our life from my friends who are non-believers. I say again, I hold no judgement towards anyone about their beliefs. As long as you are respectful about my beliefs, I have no problem with the diversity of different beliefs. However, I can’t talk to an atheist about Bible study, the new devotionals we are doing that month, our church related activities, our church friends or really anything related to my family’s beliefs. This not only becomes difficult to do, but it is fairly exhausting trying to separate certain things from certain people.

I am also very introverted and have social anxiety, so I don’t really need or want to spend a great deal of time in social settings every week. I typically spend 2-3 hours a week hanging out with my close friends and that is plenty. I do spend a great deal of time texting/emailing/messaging/talking on the phone to a wide variety of friends and family throughout the week. I also have a lot of online friends through the book and blogging community where I get to discuss things that my friends and family don’t have an interest in. My therapist this week asked if I felt socially satisfied when I was explaining all of this to her and said, “Yes, for the most part.” One of my best friends during high school and college no longer lives near me and over the years we had some problems and a falling out. Things that can easily happen when you have known someone for a long time and have been extremely close to them. I have a different kind of relationship with her then I have ever had with anyone else and I do miss that. We do talk quite frequently, but it would be nice to have her nearby, but alas I understand why people decide to move to bigger cities and warmer climates. Luckily, I think that you can still maintain close relationships with people even when you don’t see them frequently, although it is of course easier when someone lives in the same city as you. In our day and age, there are so many different lines of communication we can use, it has made it a lot easier to stay connected to friends and family.

What concerns me is when I look into the future; I wonder how things will be socially in our lives. Right now, I don’t expect much because we are currently living with my parents while we are looking for a house. I expect that we probably won’t move until the spring or early summer. After we get settled, I am hoping to begin trying to get pregnant later next year and that is what concerns me in regards to my social situation. My friends, as wonderful as they are, do not seem to want to change their lifestyle to accommodate any sort of change, especially a big change like that. Although, one of these friends does have a Kindergarden aged child, it concerns me that I won’t be able to properly maintain relationships with people who have completely opposite belief systems and priorities. I am all for diversity and I don’t need everyone in my life to have to same beliefs or values as I do, but it makes it much more difficult to maintain healthy relationships when you have completely different priorities in life. So it does make it difficult, especially when people aren’t really respectful of my beliefs or my decisions.

I imagine that many other women have been in this same position; where you have great friends who you have known for a long time, but as you get older, might not still have a lot in common or might have different beliefs or priorities. To me, these things weren’t a big deal when I was younger but as I got older and started thinking about having a family, there are certainly people and situations I would not want my children in or around. Respect and trust are big for me in all of my relationships and I try my very best to be very respectful of everyone else, even when we don’t see eye to eye on everything. I expect the same in return. And I am hoping that I can find a good median between these 2 groups of friends and feel comfortable, happy and respected in my social life as we make some more changes this coming year. As always, I love to hear from people who have been in similar situations or dealt with similar issues!

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