As times change and I move into different stages in my life, I notice the people in my life also change. People I used to talk to and spend time with a lot I hardly see. We exchange cards and occasional emails, but it’s not the same. Sometimes I try to keep the connection going, sending Christmas cards and emails to say hi even though I’m always the one who initiates. Why does this happen and how can we cope?
It’s been a process for me about deciding when to let go of a friendship that’s grown distant and when to keep hanging on. Here’s what’s worked for me.
People get busy and priorities change. Emotional needs change. It doesn’t mean they love you any less; they’re just in a different spot in their lives. Maybe months from now it can be back to the way it was: two peas in a pod. Maybe they don’t call, plans fall through, and the relationship feels one sided right now, but that just builds bitterness in your heart when your friend likely doesn’t mean it and has no idea how you feel. They could be thinking of you often and you don’t know it. Maybe they want to reach out but life gets crazy. You can’t change your friend’s behavior you can only decide if you want to keep trying, leave it as it is, or let it go.
Strategies to Cope
Think positive thoughts. Do I want them to be happy? Yes. So I can be happy for them. Thinking these types of thoughts can help when sadness and frustration kick in.
Find other Avenues for the Emotional Void they Left. Meet new people, try a new hobby.
Reach out and Tell them how you feel. Maybe things will change if they know how much your miss your talks and times together. Maybe they’ve been thinking about you too and life got in the way of them picking up the phone.
Rekindle the Connection by Having Personal Conversations. The closest people in your life tend to be the ones you see most often because they’re in the moment sharing in your experiences both good and bad. The less frequent you talk and see each other the harder it is to keep that connection. Having deep conversations about personal struggles and life issues can help keep the bond. If you feel comfortable and it’s appropriate talk about what God’s been doing in your life, what you’ve been struggling with, and what you hope for.
Unfortunately sometimes it’s not a stage in your friendship but the way it has become.
Accept the situation and let it go. This is one of the hardest ones for me. I don’t like to let go of a friendship even though the other person already has. I want to keep the connection and continue sharing memories, but for some that’s too much work if the contact isn’t regular. I understand. This is when I think about how people come and go in our lives for a reason and I pray for their happiness and well being on their journey through life. I also thank God for the memories with that person and how their friendship impacted me. I trust God will provide other opportunities to fill the emotional void that is left by losing their friendship. You never know how He’ll surprise you.
One way for me to know what how close we were before things became distant. If we were close sharing a lot of experiences, special moments, and thoughtful conversations, then keeping the connection and making that extra effort can be a great thing to do. Some of my friendships I had all of these things with them (when I lived in England) but I realized that they were a part of a special time in my life and that now that time has passed an important part of the connection was lost too. I keep in touch with some still but others we just keep tabs with each other on Facebook and yearly greetings.
Update: I have since reached out to close friends I had lost touch with. I send occasional texts and pictures. Another friend has become my letter writing buddy and write every few months or so. I have video calls occasionally with a few friends. Making that effort made all the difference and kickstarted our friendship again. They all started with a light thinking of you and over time went back to hey I’m struggling with…any ideas?
May you find meaningful connections in your life.-Katie