When I was about 16, I would imagine “growing up” and picture my twenty-something self as totally put together, with a core group of amazing drama-free people I called friends, an organized closet, and no more blemishes. The truth is, most people still act like their in high school, my closet forgot to magically organize itself with age, and I still get blemishes.
In my 20’s, I’ve spent a lot of my time trying to discover who I am, trying (and sometimes forcing) this aura of self assurance, focused on this thought process of what success means, and hoping to build lifelong friendships.
I know this is not just my experience. At the last 20-something gathering I attended, I spent the majority of my time talking with two other 20-somethings about friendship. We were swapping war stories of feeling heartbroken and wary, because friendships we originally thought were so strong, weren’t. In fact, most of the situations explained didn’t come close to how even a marginal friend should treat another.
Unfortunately, hurting people hurt people. Most “grownups” are still hurt because they haven’t figured out a good way to not be.
Throughout our conversation, we kept coming back to the point that these people were friendly when we would do what they really liked (i.e. running, going downtown and drinking their favorite craft beer, etc.) but wouldn’t come over to watch a movie. These people were our friends when we were doing what satisfied their lifestyle and when we would meet them there. That was it.
Friendships all have a lifeline. Sometimes, you become friends with someone and you both almost immediately know you really will be friends forever, and you actually are. This type of friendship is like your great-grandmothers ring. You treasure it. Other friendships happen quickly and end quickly (not necessarily because of bad blood). You love these used-to-be friends and wish them well, but you don’t really have that much of a relationship left with them, and they revert back to more of an acquaintance.
Then you have Lifestyle Friends.
The reason why Lifestyle Friendships, or LFs, can be so hurtful is because, at first, they seem so real and permanent and reliable, and you treat them that way. It can almost bring you to happy tears by how much love you have for these friends. As time goes on, and you start changing your lifestyle (maybe you are more into yoga when you were once a hardcore runner), suddenly all your bestie running friends slip away. You don’t understand or really notice at first, but you start realizing that you would do more for them than they would for you, or at least you feel that way.
When I first realized what a LF was, I was pissed. I was so mad. I was sad. I missed them. And I didn’t feel like they missed me at all, since another person, who was more in-tune with that lifestyle, quickly filled my place.
A few months after this, I realized I was going through this loss by going through the 5 Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and then (finally!) Acceptance. I was embarrassed at how upset this transition made me. Mostly because it seemed like the LF didn’t skip a beat without me. This may go without saying, but I am a highly sensitive person. I have a hard time not taking things personally. When I finally was able to appreciate the friendship as a lifestyle one, I was finally able to let go of the heavy heart I felt from the seeming “loss” of it and not take it personally any longer. It finally made sense to me.
There is nothing wrong with LFs. They are motivators, lovers of your soul for a season of your life, they are there for you as you are growing through a certain part of your life, and they are necessary.
The most valuable thing my LFs have taught me is that my expectation of all relationships has to be let go. If my expectation is to have this friend as my best friend forever, I’m most likely going to be disappointed (because, how many people really end up with 20 rings from their great grandmother?).
I don’t really think there are “bad” friends or “good” friends. I believe that we are all doing the best we can, and a lot of the time it’s not the best for certain people. The opposite of this is also true. That is a beautiful aspect of people. We have so much to love and to learn about those around us. Lifestyle friends are a huge part of that.
So, to all my past, present, and future LFs, "Thank you!" You have been, are, and will be so transformational in who I have been, am, and will be.
Marla and Jami
Cofounders of JamiAndMarla.LOVE (fka Passion Provokers and Keller Coaching) Jami and Marla are proud to bring a new level of success to coupleships worldwide with their unique coaching, mentoring, and consulting process. Their blogs are not only informative for coupleships they are personal. For over 25 years they have been helping people create emotionally and physically intimate coupleships.
Ariel is a freelance blogger, web designer, and SEO consultant. She is 23 years young, married to her soulmate, and a proud “mother” to boxer Bruce and Yorkie Dexter. She focuses on writing content that is raw and relatable. (Info relevant at the time of writing, circa 2013-2015)