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Stages of Friendship

Excerpts of this article were published in the Jamaica-Gleaner. Check article here

Life is an organic process and people change, both on inner level, in terms of personality, values and beliefs, as well on the outer level, changing jobs, hobbies, relationships, countries and so on. Life itself is a growing process, so we all outgrow our old selves.

Is it OK to outgrow your friendship without malice?

Many times couple relationships and friendships are left behind, due to their constricting and limitative role. Two people who were best friends five years ago will find harder to be still close friends if their life experiences took them on separate paths, estranging them from sharing the same belief system and core life values.

So they will find themselves in a situation in which they can accept each other, but they are not so inclined in spending time together. And this is a natural process, in which we move towards newfriendships, and it can be done with recognition towards old friends and not malice.

Why do people outgrow their friendships?

People are so different and whatever brought two people together in a friendship at a certain moment in time, might be very different from the present motivations they might have.

The maturation or individuation process that all of us go through during our life brings self awareness and change. For some of us is easier to move towards our real self and so leave behind people who would limit or oppose the new.

Others outgrow friendships due to change in core beliefs, religion and values. And there are people who find content and help, support from others, new friends coming in their life which may drive a change in the individual, so he may space himself from old friends because he finds something more interesting, more accurate to his needs next to the new friends.

In many cases, marriage, change of residence, change of job will make friends separate, so friendships will die in a matter of time.

How do you balance old and new friendships?

If the old and new friends share similar interests, hobbies or values, it could be very easy and interesting to unite them. Someone in love with art may be very open to become friend with a singer.

Or people who gather together to watch or play sports, can easily become friends starting from there. When a person has many interests, it would be normal to be part of more than one group of friends and he/she may balance the friendships according to his/her inner needs towards those hobbies or interests.

Old friends may be a little territorial when it comes to new friends of their friend,but learning, opportunities, growth come along with changes.

Is it OK for a friend to be a revolving door in your life popping in and out from time to time?

We all might have had friends who needed our support more than others, maybe they lived a bohemian life so we had to adapt to this, or their job took them away often, of they were very mutable, no pinning down in thisfriendship that we might have wanted.

When someone has a friend who pops in and out from time to time, it can be disruptive for the person who stays. But I would pin point the fruits of this sort of friendship - learning to care for someone without being so attached to the person.

Life teaches us that the more we get attached and become dependent, the more we suffer, so in the lives of people who have friends that come and go, they might have attracted this friend to learn from him or her that they can very well nurture a relationship, keep and allow complete freedom.

If you have the same friends all your life without change what does this say about you?

I would expect this from a very stable, fixed personality, the type who is very grounded and has deep roots in a place, community, job. For these people safety and a controlled environment is very important and one way to feel safe is to keep and invest in old friendships.

For someone who doesn't like surprises and especially who is afraid of change, a very good way to feel content, happy, protected is to have the same people next to you. And because this category of people would cultivate some sort of privacy around their lives, new people or new friends might come along harder.

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