Losing friends

You’ve probably heard that you’ll lose friends in your twenties. I’d heard it too, but it wasn’t real to me until I lost two friends in a matter of a few weeks. Both individuals had been in my life for nearly eight years, and suddenly, neither was in my life at all. I went through a range of emotions—confused, angry, disappointed—but now that some time has passed, I’ve been able to reflect and take away some real lessons that have changed my understanding of friendship. As I see it now, it can be valuable to lose a good friend for these reasons:

Losing friends puts us in touch with reality

We can’t control everything. Despite our best efforts, some things aren’t meant to last forever, and that can include our closest relationships. Even worse, these endings can come unexpectedly. I wished my friend a happy birthday, and five minutes later she told me she didn’t want to be friends anymore. I was suddenly reminded that our connections are optional and always subject to change. It’s important to appreciate those who choose to connect with us, and say “good riddance” to those who don’t. Once you let go, you might even realize how unhealthy your relationship actually was.

Shows us that there are limitations to every relationship

As we continually reinvent ourselves, we develop a better outline of whoever it is we will become. Unfortunately, that means some people won’t agree with who you’re becoming or will find their own outline clashing with yours. It’s natural and healthy that you’ll have differences with your friends, but when those differences hinder your happiness or the person you desire to be, the relationship is no longer beneficial to you. I once stumbled upon a great quote that said, “A ship is designed to take you places. So if your companionship, friendship, partnership or relationship isn’t taking you anywhere, then it’s best to abandon ship.” Enough said.

Someone is changing, for better or worse

Writer H.G. Wells said, “The path of social advancement is, and must be, strewn with broken friendships.” In a good companionship, each person should want the other to be growing. Most of our close friends, especially in our early twenties, are those we went to high school with. I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t want to think that I’m the same person today that I was when I was fifteen. As we mature, our interests and desires will change for better or worse. As a result, much like when we all hit our pubescent growth spurts, some things simply don’t fit anymore. Know when to break it off with a friend who no longer adequately fulfills the role of “friend.”

If it’s you who has failed to uphold your end of the relationship, losing a friend can provide a big opportunity for introspection. Every unsuccessful relationship should teach you something you can use to improve future relationships.

Alters your view of other friendships

After losing some close friends, my appreciation for my other friends was amplified. Corny clichés aside, I realized who was really on my team. Any relationship is a choice. Whether we choose to answer a call, or send a photo, or hang out for a Netflix binge, we actively choose to maintain our ties to those who matter most. Don’t waste time constantly chasing a friend who isn’t willing to choose you. Instead, appreciate and focus on the friends who give you everything you deserve, and make sure you give them the same in return.

Maybe you haven’t lost any friends yet. Consider yourself lucky for now, but don’t be surprised if this changes at some point. The people in your life today are meant to be there now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything for the future. Whatever happens, know that losing friends is a natural part of your personal evolution. Take the relationship as another life experience, learn something and then let it go.

Have you ever lost a friend? What did you learn?