Over the years I’ve leaned heavily on my friendships to get me through bad boyfriends, extended periods of singlehood, job loss, moves, family issues, and a million other things. Because I am a real person and that is what real people do. So already this post is a whole lot of nothing. I only bring up these obvious statements because, once again, I’ve been taking stock of my friendship portfolio over the past week or so.
Throughout the month of December I hibernated in hopes of focusing all of my energy on a book about a meerkat who must navigate his 31st Christmas despite being single, unfulfilled by his career and judged by his family. It’s a real feel-good tale. Upon emerging from said hibernation, I realized I owed almost every friend in my rolodex (can I still use that term?) a visit. As a result, this week has been a whirlwind of catching up, coffees, dinners, drinks with friends I’ve known for 26 years and some I met just six months ago.
These back-to-back-to-back-to-back lady dates illuminated further something I’ve always known to be true, but never fully realized the extent of until this week. I have an incredibly diversified friendship portfolio. To the point where the only time they’ve all been in one room was my wedding. I used to lament the fact that I didn’t have early-2000s sitcom-style friendships wherein 6 of my closest friends get together almost daily to discuss love, life, careers and everything in between.
The one group that came even remotely close to that disbanded with the demise of this friendship. Though, even during those years, she was my friend and a merely enjoyed the company of the others as we all orbited around her. High school was the closest thing I ever had to an actual group of friends. And even then, it was more like a series satellite groups comprised of two or three other friends. As an adult, I had a group adjacent friendship experience with a bible study group. But it was, again, essentially three close friends who brought in ancillary friends to build a larger, very loosely knit unit.
As it stands now, I can’t even imagine any two of my friends branching out into a friendship of their own. It’s not that they don’t get along. On the rare occasions when they all come together (for my wedding, shower or back when I threw birthday parties for myself), they are friendly and take genuine interest in conversations with each other, but no one is making plans to get together for dinner the next week.
I don’t believe this arrangement is anything of a phenomenon. Anytime I discuss it with the individual friends, they seem to have the same arrangement with the people in their lives. There are the rare social butterflies who have somehow managed to forge the F.R.I.E.N.D.S.-style friendship groups, but that seems to stem from roommate/grad school arrangements.
I think the reality is that people are complex and, especially as we become adults, we need different things from different people. It’s healthy to have friends from various walks of life, they broaden your horizons and fit into very specific niches as you need them throughout your life.
Stories of people who lose their friends when they get married, have kids, etc., seem to come from circles where everyone is connected solely because they happen to be in the same spot in their lives. So, while having an entire friend troop (or squad — ugh millennials) may seem enviable, it may not be sustainable. Because those connections never seem to grow as deep as the individual ones you form with people who genuinely make sense in your life.