Growing up wildly opinionated, I often received council for…just being myself. One of the most memorable pieces of recurring advice I’ve received was that my ‘friends will come and go’. It still rings in my head to this day, mostly because I thought it was stupid. If you put stock into someone, if two people can forge a valuable bond, why would it ever cease to exist? As an adult, when I look through my photo albums and see the same faces from the past ten years, I assume that must make me somewhat of a stable longterm friend? But then I’m quick to consider, those I did lose in the shuffle. Were the naysayers right? Even I, a hyper-aware person avidly trying to maintain my circle, have watched as important faces fall through the metaphorical cracks of life. Spoiler alert: loss is unavoidable to some degree. Subsequently, It’s more avoidable than it used to be.
Why Do They Go?
Why this happens is not something that can be summarized indefinitely. There are millions of determining factors as to why two people fall out of touch. The obvious example being, you might move away, and your absence may cause the other party to shift focus. Perhaps you said the wrong thing, hurt someone’s feelings unintentionally, or perhaps even intentionally, in a moment of pain? Someone could reveal themselves to be unhealthy for you (by all means kick this type of friend to the curb without remorse). Possibly someone has simply just lost interest in furthering your relationship (again, curb)? Every scenario is nuanced and different. After much soul searching, I’ve reached the personal conclusion that most healthy relationships fizzle out due to very sentiments like ‘friends come and go’.
Someone, somewhere down the line felt comfort in the idea that essentially, if you are not tied to someone, it’s acceptable to let them go in the crosshairs of change. Even if you like them. Even if nothing is wrong. But what they fail to mention is that same lack of effort that feels so acceptable in your twenties, may resurface as guilt into later adulthood. Yeah, you might end up with a wonderful family, or shiny career, but aside from maybe two friends – your company will be the memories of people who fell to the wayside. And that’s not a grim hypothesis, that’s our society’s ‘standard’. If that outcome sounds good, proceed. It’s no one’s place to paint your perfect future except your own. But let me be the first to tell you, I do not subscribe to a future where you lose a large amount of friends in growing older.
How Do We Fix It?
Combatting the stigma that your social life will shrink “just because” is not a hard idea to rally against, and with modern technology, it’s actually very easy to combat. The following solutions might sound overtly simple but try to remain open-minded. Methods to mutually sustaining friendships: set reminders when to text your long distance pals, plan FaceTime dates, use Amazon to send small gifts, make a quick phone call when walking your dog, even send a damn meme. Obvious, right? But the neat thing is, these are mostly new-age solutions. Some of the contemporary advancements previously mentioned aren’t even two decades old. Many prior generations didn’t have access to these helpful tools to translate their efforts and feelings, meaning there were far fewer options to stay connected. One can’t help but notice the irony that it’s the technology Millennials are often criticized for being attached to, that may help them to sustain long-term bonds with one another.
Practicing this method of thinking will not make you invincible from losing people. You will. We all will. Humans hurt each other, life is intricate, people change and priorities shift. This is more call to arms in saying that two people do not have to be okay with drifting apart simply because of changing tides. In 2019 we have more autonomy to design the future we want, and fill it with those we love. The key is to be mindful, continue to put in the effort, fully realize the tools in our disposal, and use our resources to show that we care. Lastly, keep in mind that the next time you hear the phrase ‘friends come and go’, don’t take it too literally. Whoever said it, definitely did not possess a $1,000 iPhone X with unlimited texting.