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Navigating Friendships

pink promise with a heart

The relationships we cultivate in our lives can be the biggest influence on our mental health. Despite the focus on romantic relationships in most parts of life, I think it’s important to focus on our friendships as well. Learning to navigate our friendships can be a difficult task at times – and knowing what you need from a friend can be even more difficult. Our desire for connection and friendship normally starts at a young age. In our younger years, these friendships might be fleeting and full of drama. As we grow up, our social circles can change and grow smaller for a variety of reasons such as job changes or marriage.  

a group of friends on the beach

It can be hard to navigate friendships in adulthood. Our chances to create meaningful friendships are more limited than ever and the harsh truth is that most adults are juggling so many different tasks that it can feel impossible to have a close group of friends. When we shift from our college years to working full time jobs, the adjustment can be difficult for people. 

Friendships ebb and flow. Strong friendships, in my opinion, don’t always require frequent communication or dedicated time each week to hang out. You and your friend understand that life gets in the way sometimes and it can be hard to reach out. That doesn’t mean your friendship is any less important, it just means that you’re both adults. 

It’s also important to note that sometimes there comes a point in adulthood when some friendships seem to run their course. This is completely normal – but it can still make us feel dysregulated. We might feel a sense of guilt at the idea that we’re growing in a different direction than our friends.  

two people with their backs turned to each other

As we learn to navigate adulthood and all of its different subsections, some friendships don’t feel the way they did before. This could be for a variety of reasons. Maybe it’s hard to find time to spend quality time together, or you realize that what you need from a friendship is more than that person can offer, or you could even start to really dislike this person that you used to think would be in your life forever. 

An essential lesson I have learned in my adulthood is that not all friendships are going to withstand the test of time. It doesn’t even have to have a dramatic ending – you might just have outgrown each other. It’s okay to honor the impact that friendship had on your life while accepting its natural end. The friend that helped you through your traumatic break-up in college will always be someone that you feel love for – but she doesn’t have to be invited to be your maid of honor after not speaking for four years. 

Our friendships change with time and life experiences and that’s okay! You can appreciate the friendship for what it was while also knowing that it’s time to let go. If you’re struggling to navigate friendships, reach out to a Mindsight therapist today!

photo of the author

Shelby Case is a clinician offering in-person sessions at our Louisville office or telehealth sessions! She strives to make long-lasting connections with her clients in order to facilitate positive change. As a well-known homebody, Shelby enjoys living a cozy life outside of her time working by focusing on hobbies, spending time with her spouse, getting overly invested in TV shows, or cuddling with one of her cats. 

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