How many of your friendships really matter?
There are many kinds of friends and all of us need different types of friends and different types of relationships.
Friends help us through life. We socialize with friends, share confidences with them, learn new skills together, and seek/give advice.
Types of Friendships
Most of us have several types of friendships and there are many benefits from having a diverse group of friends. Some are casual; some are intimate — as with a partner; some are situational. A few friendships are very close; often, these friendships have developed over many years.
Some friendships develop through mutual interests or hobbies. I belong to a knitting group that started because all of us are knitters. We help each other with complicated knitting projects and sometimes undertake a common project that is made more interesting by our unique contributions. Over time the knitting group has evolved to a place where confidences are shared and members give each other emotional support.
I have formed close friendships with a group of fun-loving women by playing bridge with them regularly. As well as cards, we attend the same book club and share occasional lunches and dinners. In the near future some of us will spend a month travelling together. I expect that travelling together will both test and deepen our friendship.
I enjoy other friendships that developed because of mutual relationships. These include interesting people who are artists, musicians, bar tenders, writers and bankers. I’ve met them because they are friends with someone else I know. From the first meeting, a friendship has developed because of time spent together and common interests.
As a result of writing this blog, I have online friends who I have never met. Some are bloggers who I follow; others are readers of postworksavvy who send comments to posts or who write privately to my email address. For many retired people strong relationships with virtual friends are a source of support.
Friendships also develop through situational experiences. I think of wonderful people I’ve met at resorts or on a cruise boat or at a yoga retreat who became friends because of common experiences. Throughout the child-rearing years, I had friendships with soccer parents, music parents, and carpool parents. During the time we spent together we socialized and were companions on a mutual journey. Most of these friendships did not last; they ended once the shared experience was over.
Retirement alters friendships
During my career I had many workplace friends. It was easy to get close to them; we had common challenges. But workplace friendships are transient. Once the work relationship ends, people tend to drift away as lifestyles and personal priorities change.
Retirement means more time for leisure, learning and volunteer activities which bring new friendships. Former coworkers are replaced with people you spend time with during retirement activities. News from the office becomes less interesting and eventually contact with coworkers is lost.
A retirement identity evolves and with that identity new friendships develop.
Friendships that really matter
If we are fortunate, we have one or two friends who have known us for many years, have seen us through our life changes, have seen our best and our worst sides. Such friends are the treasures in our lives.
There is no transience to such friendships. In fact, they grow deeper with time.
These are the friendships that really matter.
One such friend, who lives in another province, visited a couple of weeks ago. We took up our conversation from where it left off last summer when we last saw each other.
We interrupt each other without changing the rhythm of thought patterns. We finish each other’s sentences. Our communication feels effortless. We know each other’s likes and dislikes.
Over the years, our friendship has sustained each of us through rough times and through good times. Beyond truly enjoying each other’s company, we seek each other’s opinion about major life decisions.
We validate each other; we also disagree with each other without feeling threatened or de-valued.
My friend gives honesty, truth and guidance when I need it. I try to reciprocate.
While I need many types of friends — casual friends, situational friends, online friends — I know that there are some real friends that matter to my life. I laugh with them, cry with them, share confidences with them and learn with them.
I hope that every reader of this blog has one or two friendships that really matter. They are the treasures of life.