Something I’ve discover in the last few years is that my friend group is shrinking. Yet, I’ve learned not to feel guilty about dwindling friendships as I age.
I first encountered this trend right after retirement and a move out of the area where we had ministered for over 40 years.
Next came months of caring for a daughter with mold disease. Then Covid arrived on the scene, and you probably know how THAT went!
Each of these happenings meant an adjustment in my friendships, but I also realized that my friend’s circle would be smaller and more varied even if those events hadn’t occurred.
Fewer girlfriends are a natural part of winding down a busy life. This diminishing allows me the time I now need to embrace the people I choose with the wisdom and limited energy that aging brings.
Growing older means you’ve invested in many friendships and, hopefully, learned from them all. By now, you’ve got a toolbox full of relationship tools that you know work and the insight to know what doesn’t work!
Some friends have moved to distant places, and perhaps you’ve done the same. You can’t hug, talk, and laugh face-to-face as you once did, but social media helps fill those gaps a little.
Other friendships disappear as life takes you in different directions with different interests.
Yet, when you meet an old companion you haven’t seen in a long while, you find the conversation rooted in the past, bringing pleasant memories to your day.
Old friends are treasures, and because of their depth, you don’t have to stay connected as you once did to remain friends.
New friends are full of discoveries. They bring fresh adventures, and interesting perspectives swirled in with their lifetime of stories.
These relationships are rooted in the present and, if nurtured, bring richness to your aging journey.
And if you don’t feel like a new friend adventure is where your energy needs to go with an individual, you are free to back away from that woman and invest your time elsewhere… like a nap, hobby, another girlfriend, family, or a good book.
Aging Means Giving Yourself Permission to...
- Find and test out new relationships in your life, keeping the ones that fit who you are now.
- Cultivate and nurture the friendships that you cherish with quality conversations that include laughter and inspiration.
- Learn to graciously set up boundaries and stick to them. Boundaries protect your heart and time as well as the heart and time of your friend.
- Let go of friendships that are more work than you anticipated. These relationships may have been okay in the past, but now they will drain what internal resources you have. Ask yourself if a relationship brings you joy, rejuvenation, and rest. It may be time to let that girlfriend slip away if it doesn’t. (For tips, see How to end a friendship that isn’t working.)
- View the friendships you have as part of a healthy approach to aging. Yep, that’s right. We need friends to experience good health as we grow older.
The Foundation of Your Friendships
As you move in and out of relationships, remember that it is God’s love within your heart that binds a friendship together.
It doesn’t matter if your friend believes the same as you or has even experienced that love.
What matters is that you have.
So, choose to filter your self-talk, actions, and words through the love of God found in 1 Corinthians 13.
Learning to age gracefully means saying goodbye to many old friendships, embracing a few new ones, and, most of all, learning to apply the love of God in practical and sustaining ways to our relationships.
You’ve got this, girl. Now … call a girlfriend and set up a coffee date.
This Post Has 4 Comments
I am living out the distance between life long friends and making new ones because I picked up and moved across country. Thank you for a different and encouraging perspective. Making new friends and keeping the old.
I so glad you found the post helpful, Kathryn. Moving so far from your old stompin’ grounds is quite the adventure. I know you’re making lots of new friends. You go, girl!
Helpful words for me in a challenging and unexpected season in a new state and a baby grandson to dote on. Separations have always been painful and this was no exception. Thanks for making this transition seem more normal.
I’ve missed you old friend, but I’m so excited that you get to live near your new grandson! I know you have friends all over the world, and I’m thankful to be one of them. Enjoy your kids and cuddling with that precious little grandson. 🙂