How To Understand (and Identify) Lifestyle Friends


By Ariel Minter 

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. 

Ariel is one of the authors of the Passion Provoker blogs. She also created the Passion Provokers website. She is 23 years old and became coach certified in 2010. She is passionate about using her words and thoughts in order to “get the point across…in a raw way.” If you are interested in contacting Ariel about web design or would like to feature one of her blogs on your website, you may contact her at [email protected].

5 thoughts on “How To Understand (and Identify) Lifestyle Friends

    1. It took me so long to make peace with this “loss” of a friendship, and finally giving it a definition really helped me. I think this happens at all seasons of life, but especially so for us 20-somethings, because we are trying to figure out what our lifestyle is in the first place! Thanks so much for commenting on this, Ally! I love continuing the conversation.

  1. I really liked this Ariel…I have always thought that specific friends come into your life for a specific reason…to teach each other life lessons. I agree it’s hard when the friendship fizzles and sometimes it feels like such a let-down. So my goal now is just to accept my friends as much as I can and if it gets too hard, then the universe is telling me to let go…our “time” together has served it’s purpose & we have learned what we were supposed to from it. I also agree that our friends have helped to make us who we are and who who we will be….Nice post! Thanks!

    1. Donna, I love your perspective! There is so much power in accepting rather than expecting. Thanks for your insight!

  2. I remember feeling this way a lot, that people had bailed on me as my jobs changed or I moved to other cities. Now I understand ;-) Thanks for the insight, Ariel!

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