Changing friendships, that’s what this talk between Janet and Anneloes is about. What’s the definition of friendship? And what do people expect from a friendship? Is it the same for everyone? Does it matter when a friendship started and how it developed? And what changes can a friendship endure over the years?
According to Wikipedia friendship is a close (in general non sexual) relationship or bond between two or more people where gender does not play a role.
Oldest and longest friendships
Janet: My longest friendships date back to high school. When I was in primary school I also had a couple of good friends but I lost those friendships when I had to transfer to a different level high school and I made new friends there that where a better fit than my old friendships. Often you don’t realise this until you meet and befriend new people.
Anneloes: I recognize that. The friendships I made in high school I failed to keep up. But those friendships and memories are not any less dear to me. How my friendships started I can’t really remember. Nowadays I realise more than ever that in friendships, just like in other relationships, a real connection is what matters the most. And that doesn’t really mean we need to have lots of things in common, it’s more a kind of instant feeling of a true connection.
“We really made things easier for eachother”
Janet: With my oldest friends I have many similarities if you look at our characters. We really stuck together in high school and we really made things easier for eachother with our close friendship. Thanks to those friendships I really have good memories of the last few years in high school. I also really appreciate it that I still have people in my life that I can share those memories with and that we see eachother growing up from awkward teenagers to students to young women and now (mostly) mothers. In my newer friendships my friends are often very different from me if you look at their characters (like for example Anneloes) but we do have many similarities like enjoying the same things (travel, free time, good conversations), or have the same chronic disease or the same job.
Anneloes: My oldest friendship dates back to the second year of high school. I was around 14 years old and this friendship still exists. It did change in time. In the past we had almost daily contact (because we saw eachother in school of course), we wrote eachother lots of notes and letters and we often talked on the phone for hours. Now we meet a few times a year and we always pick up where we left of easily. Our lives are quite different but still this friendship feels really good. There is a sort of real contact, a base, trust and respect and a mutual interest. That, together with the fact that we’ve known eachother for about 26 years now, makes this a lasting and valuable connection.
Janet: My friendships have changed throughout the years. Almost all of my friends got married and had kids. That’s what I had hoped for for myself, but it didn’t happen. Because all of them had kids, their lives changed enormously and my life hardly changed at all. It had changed allready when I was 17 and got a chronic illness. It did not influence my friendships luckily (I heard from a lot of people they lost friends because of this) but both having kids and me being ill asked for some changes here and there.
Anneloes: That’s the same for me with my friends. Everyone has a partner. Most also have kids. That affected the friendships and not always in a positive way, unfortunately. I lost some contacts, some only for a while though. They started again after the baby phase. Eventually I think it’s important that you respect eachother and the phase you’re in. It’s important be interested and keep in touch. Sometimes this is easy and other times it gives some trouble and compromise. When I look at me: I’m really not a fan of those children’s play paradises but if that’s the only way to see a friend, I’ll go for it. I think I’ve changed as well. My interests and lifestyle changed. It’s only logical that my friends also feel they have to adjust. Eventually a friendship is also a relationship: without selling yourself short you go for a compromise.
Janet: Having changed yourself can also be of influence to a friendship. I turned vegetarian in high school and I noticed that people found this very odd (this was 1995). Because I wasn’t very extreme it was still accepted but I also noticed another more extreme student not being accepted. Now that I tend towards veganism and a more sustainable lifestyle, it can be difficult with people who don’t care about this at all and even take offence in this. It could be a dealbreaker or a point of arguement. Plus it’s a reason to be on the lookout for people with similar interests and point of views. On the other hand I am never really extreme, I like to be in the middle and most of my friends are growing with me in this.
Anneloes: I think it’s more important that you both invest in real contact. If real contact isn’t there, or if you grow apart, then that’s what it is really. You can outgrow eachother. Your life can radically change or you meet other people. Some friendships just aren’t meant for life.
In November 2017 we spoke about our friendship in this blogpost.
Want to know more about how friendships can change over time? We found this article from The Atlantic interesting.
What does friendship mean to you? Do you think it matters when a friendship starts? Do you experience changing friendships? We’d love for you to share your thoughts with us below.