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Friend-shifts

September 24, 2009

About a year after being married I remember crying at the dining room table. Tears spilling over, running down my cheeks.

“I just don’t feel like I have any friends!” I said told Josh. “No one I can just call up and say, ‘want to come over and watch a movie?'”

I did have friends. But many of my close friends live a good distance away, from an hour to across the country. I didn’t feel like I had a good friend close by, though. No one to meet for an impromptu date at a coffee house.

Friendship had never been hard for me prior to marriage. It had been easy and organic.Β  And I was determined after marriage to remain friends with my girlfriends and not ditch them just because I’d married. But regardless of my good intentions, change occurred just the same, whether on my part, their part, or mutually. My single friends seemed to stop inviting me to girl’s night out dinners, when I knew I’d have been invited when I was single. I was adjusting to being married, running a home, working full-time, and being a wife. It was a challenge to accomplish all that was needed and still have time to “hang out.” Not to mention I under went a significant amount of extended family strain only about a year after being married. Three of my best friends got married the same year as I did, and we were all busy adjusting to the demands of the new life, in-laws, and for some, children.

I was experiencing “friend-shifts.” It can be painful. It can be lonely. I didn’t coin that term, “friend-shift,” but I think it’s very illuminating. Recently, I listened to a message on friendship and Mark Driscoll used the phrase to describe the phenomenon that happens to friendships as life happens.

Life changes often create friend-shifts. Whether it’s marriage, a new baby, a new job, changing churches, or moving to a new home, these changes often shift our friendships.

Driscoll recommends talking to your friends about the changes and the expectations you have for your friendship. That’s something I wish I’d done when I first got married. Instead I didn’t say anything.

Honestly, I feel like I’ve been going through friend-shifts for the past five years of marriage! This message and Ungrind’s articles have been very helpful for me as I consider various issues surrounding friendship. For the past year, I’ve actually been thinking how to be more strategic in my friendships. Before this stage of life, I was simply friends with people I “clicked” with who shared life with me in some way: co-workers, single girl friends when I was single, etc. Now, as a wife, mother, and someone who works from home, my time is limited, so I want to really invest in the friendships I currently have or the newer ones I create. I can only be close friends with a few women. Only some can be soul sisters.

I’ve been praying for wisdom about how to invest myself in the lives of my friends. I’m wanting to an authentic friend. Someone who’s deep, as opposed to spreading myself thin.

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. September 24, 2009 7:45 am

    As someone who has *always* had to invest in my friendships, I can’t say I understand about the thin-spreading “click” on commonality. I’ve moved most of my life, leaving a good friend or two here or there. My best friend surfaced with schizophrenia and dramatically changed our relationship. I have other friends that I talk with rarely, because they live their own lives where they are, and I live mine.

    I wish I had friends close sometimes, to go out and do girl-things with, to hang out and enjoy things with. I think this is why I enjoy my blog-friends so much; people can be authentic in writing – I can be authentic in writing – and investing time and prayer and care into new long distance relationships (that actually get reciprocated at times!) helps keep me connected, gives me opportunity to grow and share.

    Eh, it’s a long, rambly comment; hope you don’t mind!

  2. Morgan permalink
    September 24, 2009 8:16 am

    I know what your feeling. I experienced the friend-shift during my freshman year of college. Suddenly people who I had been seeing multiple days a week disappeared from my life, and our two different schedules often prevented get togethers, and the result was that friendships that had been tight all through middle and high school, suddenly just disintegrated.
    And like you, I feel like I’ve been going through a friend-shift ever since. The only constant in my life has been my boyfriend, who I am so thankful for, and who is most certainly my best friend. But I still long for that best girlfriend.

  3. melodyejoy permalink
    September 24, 2009 8:41 am

    Danielle, in my 50 years of life I’ve been through about 5 “friend shifts.” Dan O and I had couple friends when we were first married, but when we had our children, on different time tables, those waned. When my kids played sports, I was friends with the women I sat with at the games. I surrounded myself with friends through a women’s bible study. But I found these friendships became too high-maintenance to maintain. I whittled down my “friend list” to three great girlfriends and one couple friendship for my hubby and I. I am solitary by nature so this works for me… Of course, my friend, “who sticketh closer than a brother” is my best friend. I talked to Him this morning πŸ™‚

  4. September 24, 2009 10:58 am

    This really hits home with me and I think I am in one of those periods of my life right now, but getting out! Since becoming a single mom, a lot of people who were there everyday were suddenly dropping out of sight, and leaving me bare and lonely. I recently ( a few months ago) reconnected with an old acquaintance who has also become a single mom, and the friendship has been blossoming daily! I absolutely want to be able to be myself, kick back an relax, call and pick up where ever we left off no matter how long we lose touch due to our busy lives and not hold it against each other. It’s hard to find that, and I think I have. I think so many people are concerned about having lots of friends, but I would rather have one or two very close friends, than a whole bunch who are just there when it’s convenient for either one.

    Anyway you sound like a lovely person and very deserving of having a true lasting friendship! It will only be a matter of time before you find that!! πŸ™‚

  5. September 24, 2009 10:59 am

    Danielle, thanks so much for adding this link to the Fresh Brew Fridays page. It is a great post and I can so relate! It’ll be up on Fresh Brew tomorrow.

  6. September 24, 2009 12:13 pm

    Kelly: I understand the whole moving a lot thing. I moved every few years until I was 14, when things stabilized as far as that goes. But I still moved away for college, an internship, and then back. I definitely can relate. The spreading myself thin thing has surfaced since having the boys. Trying to keep up with friends who’ve moved, play dates with gals who have kids the age of mine, and long-distance relationships, has left me exhausted. I’ve realized I need to instead invest with those friendships that have long been established and carefully consider new relationships and really seek to invest in a few of them that have purpose and are mutual.

    Morgan: I’ll be praying for a best girlfriend for you.

    Melodye: Thanks for sharing from experience that is longer than mine. Of course, “friend-shifts” are part of life, and should be expected. I think intentional “whittling” can be so good at times, because then you can give more of yourself to a richer and deeper relationship than you might otherwise be able. I think that’s where I am right now.

    Lilmisssundress: That’s awesome you’ve just recently discovered a “soul sister!” I do want to clarify that I didn’t mean for it to sound like I don’t have any lasting friendships. That wasn’t my intention. I do! My very best friend drove up once a month to visit me the first year I had my twins and had a difficult time getting out. If that’s not lasting friendship, I don’t know what is! I just mean to say, that in general, the past several years can be characterized as “friend-shifts.” Old friends have moved, new relationships I started investing in have also moved, single friends have schedules that often seem incompatible with mine. The overarching theme has been a shifting of relationships . . .

    Ashleigh: Thanks!

  7. Abbey permalink
    September 24, 2009 12:40 pm

    Danielle,

    This was very inspiring. I’ve been looking for small inspirations in different places and I know you have many wise words so this morning I popped in and found this post. Thank you for giving me a little bit of inspiration for my day!

  8. krista permalink
    September 24, 2009 1:04 pm

    I was just struggling with this again this morning!

    Moving to MD when we got married completely uprooted my friendships. And since we moved back to PA I’ve left the friends I made during those 7 years behind, (like you guys). What’s been hard is that I moved “home” to find high school friends who have been going strong without me. So, though I have friends, I’m yearning for some sisters of the heart.

    I’ll have to check out the Driscoll link.
    Thanks for articulating what I was feeling so well.

    • September 24, 2009 1:27 pm

      Krista, well, we’ll have some sister of the heart time on Saturday! πŸ™‚ I think moving “home” can be one of the hardest moves, because it’s at once familiar and unfamiliar. I remember when I came “home” after being away almost for 2 years that it was took longer to re-engage into a new groove, so to speak, than to move some place completely fresh.

  9. September 24, 2009 2:08 pm

    Danielle, I think you’re really cool. Will you be my friend? πŸ™‚

  10. September 24, 2009 3:27 pm

    I think this is likely a very common experience among women. I have so much I want to share about it, but am going to try to compose some blog posts myself on the topic. I’m working on something else first and who knows how long that’ll take to complete. But, hopefully this can be one more topic of conversation we’ll be able to chat about tomorrow night…looking forward to it, friend! πŸ™‚

  11. September 24, 2009 5:07 pm

    sorry Danielle! I didn’t mean for it to come off like that, but I know what you mean! πŸ™‚ Your friend sounds awesome to have stuck by you like that and she definitely went the extra mile, literally, now that is a true friend!

    • September 24, 2009 5:35 pm

      That’s fine! Just thought I’d clarify! My friends read my blog. πŸ˜‰

  12. September 24, 2009 5:27 pm

    I’ve been feeling the same way. I think the REALLY ironic thing is that we always think that everyone else has a ton of friends and we’re the only one that doesn’t. (At least, that’s how I always feel.)

    And, like you, I’ve been through quite a few shifts and still haven’t figured out how to be consistent with anyone during this crazy season of life.

    I’m def. going to check out that link. THanks!

  13. September 24, 2009 7:56 pm

    Great article, I’m glad we’re friends πŸ™‚

  14. mom permalink
    October 1, 2009 9:47 am

    Honey when you married and moved away I felt like I’d lost one of my best friends. I tried to give you space and left it mostly to you as far as contacting and coming home, I knew you had many adjustments to make. I wish you’d just pop in and all the rest of it but I understand the time restraints of marriage and of children and you have two at a time.I lost, as you know, my very best friend and I suppose really only friend, at least by my definition. I have acquaintances, folks I work with, gym friends, the word is used so loosely. I do know women NEED friends. Friendships take time and much energy. I feel blest to have had one.

  15. May 17, 2012 3:17 pm

    I feel the same way. The thing is sometimes it is even harder to keep the friendship when the person can’t see you have changed a lot or appreciated of who you are. My question is how many people has a heart to really say goodbye to your long knowing each other best friend? Keeping it like a commitment set before ” Friendship Forever”. I guess there is always a bond between us no matter what, but the expectation of understanding and caring need to change,and even the title ” Best Friend ” need to take it out from your heart. Just seeing him or her as one of your friend, knowing you still generously and truly caring the person. another question, reshaping the relationship with a healthy boundary is challenging since the person know you so much and he or she can say thing to ” hurt ” you. That may not be hurt in the past, but the new grownup you more mindful and aware the effect now. No one is perfect, eventhough I don’t choose my friend wisely, but accept the fact that this is the stage of our friendship and just part of it. May your other friends or people in your life open another parts of chambers in your hear that supporting, caring and understanding and appreciating you ..

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