Three years ago, I was sitting in Hyde Park, London, reading an article about how our friendships change as we get older. Journalist Julie Beck wrote for The Atlantic that as we get married, have kids, settle into serious relationships and pursue our careers, our friendships are the first things to drop down the priorities list. We are biologically bound to our family members and legally tied to the person we marry, so our friends are more tenuous connections; easier to disentangle ourselves from when life gets busy. I was 28 at the time, just starting to watch as friends wed and procreated, and this idea frightened me so much, I did two things: One, message my best friends to suggest some sort of lifelong, legally binding friendship contract with a minimum number of contact hours per month and two, write an 83,339-word plea for society to relearn the value of friendship, a book called The Friendship Cure. I’ve spent the past few years thinking about friendship and in particular, how we might hold onto it when our lives change around us.
It can be extremely difficult to maintain friendships. Not least because so many of us forget they need maintenance at all. We tend to have this idea that friendship is a certainty in our lives, something we deserve without having to earn it. We often think that friendship should be forever, too; that somehow these connections we make at school, at university, at work or by chance will last our whole lives. First off, a reality check: Sometimes friendships end and that’s OK. As we get older and more sure of who we are, hopefully we develop a better system of quality control for all the relationships in our lives and sometimes this means acknowledging that friends we once adored no longer belong in our lives.
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