By Alane Cunningham – Changing Friendships Bring Joy and Sadness
“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best that we find in our travels is an honest friend.” Robert Louis Stevenson
As the year draws to a close, it is a time of reflection. What do you want to change and what will make the next year even better than the the last? One of the things that it may be time to look at are friendships, or perhaps, toxic friendships that no longer make you feel good about yourself.
We all know that friendships are an important part of life and according to Dr. Leslie Becker, they can actually be a means to de-stress our lives. Feeling connected to others or having a sense of belonging is a basic psychological need.
Having strong relationships can actually strengthen the immune system and give people a feeling that they always have someone to help them.
But what happens when a friendship no longer makes you feel good? Then the opposite is true and friends can become a major source of stress in your life. A friend can be defined as a person whom one knows, likes and trusts or a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. When a friend is no longer validating your feelings of being a good person, it is time to evaluate a friendship.
As you think about friendships, it is not necessary to be the same sex, be the same age, or share the same interests. As long as you can communicate and you look forward to seeing or talking with a person, it is the type of relationship that Dr. Becker would say makes you feel younger and stronger in life.
To lose a friend is a very sad part of life. As we grow older, we can lose friends through geographical moves, or sadly, through death. We can also lose friends by not taking the time to appreciate what they mean in our life. Friendship can take time, but when it starts to feel like work, it may be time to think about what you are really gaining, or losing from a relationship.
It should also be noted that our friendships change through time since most people are individually changing as they age. Sometimes friendships evolve and become closer as our individual values and needs become more compatible with those of our friend. Other times, our values and needs change and become less compatible with those of a friend and a friendship can become strained and create bad feelings which can end a friendship. We need to understand that this is a normal function of aging and sometimes ending a friendship is better than continuing a dysfunctional one.
So, as we move into the new year, appreciate the friends you have, but also know we never lose the capacity to have new people enter our lives. Maybe in the coming year you will meet someone who will change your life for the better.
About Alane Cunningham
Alane is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University. She retired from the University of Michigan after 27 years. She currently lives in Florida in a small beachside community with her husband. She navigates retirement with human nature observations realizing everyone must find their own way to happiness through this passage of life.