Friendships Will Change As You Age Whether You Like It Or Not

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Over time, priorities change and schedules fill up, so friendships have to shift accordingly.

I’ve been told many times that my relationships with my female friends will change as I go through life. The first time I heard this was when I was in high school, getting ready to move on to college, and I didn’t believe it. Sure, maybe I wouldn’t keep in touch with some of the people I only knew casually, but nothing could touch my core group of friends. We were close. We knew everything about each other. Nothing could change that, not even the distance that college provides.

I added new friends as I progressed through undergrad, but I was right; my core group of friends was inseparable. We always made a point to get together as much as we could when we were all home on breaks, and it was just like picking up where we left off. It felt like we hadn’t been separated for more than a day, and that was part of the reason why it always felt so good to be home.

Once we graduated from undergrad and joined the workforce, my friends and I remained very close. I moved away, but I was close enough to be home almost every weekend, and I was only gone for a few years. When I moved back home to save money while I started grad school, I was back to hanging out with my friends almost every day. I was 24 years old when I started grad school, though, and this is about when our core group started “dropping like flies”—an expression we used to describe those who got married and more or less fell off the face of the earth. Of course, they would all try to meet up with me once a month or so, but it wasn’t the same; they all had other things to worry about now that they were wives and homemakers on top of their already busy, full-time jobs. I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t forget about my friends when I got married, like they had seemed to forget about me.

But then I got married. On top of teaching full-time, I had a wedding to plan and grad school to finish and, after the wedding, I still had my job plus my writing, which was all meant to help us save for a house. Furthermore, I felt immense pressure (from society, mostly) to keep the house clean and cook good meals. About six months after we got married, we decided to add a dog to the mix, which brought on a whole new set of responsibilities. Whoever said getting a dog would be a good test for having children was right. It’s a lot of work.

In the meantime, many of my married friends started having babies, which pulled them further away from the active social lives they once had. My groups of friends were now split into three categories: unmarried, married without kids, and married with kids. Trying to get the unmarried girls’ schedules with their still-active social calendars to match up with the new moms’ schedules, which were now filled with diapers and bedtime stories, was next to impossible. It was equally difficult to find friends who still fell into my category: married without kids. It always seemed that, no matter what friend I was talking to, I didn’t understand something, whether it was the intricacies of child-rearing (no matter how much your dog is your baby, apparently they are not at all like real babies) or the drama of dating. As you can imagine, this has been frustrating, especially when all I really want to do is sit and chat over a glass of wine with the women who used to know me best.

As more and more of my married friends have children, I am becoming even more of a rarity among my age group. I have been extremely fortunate to make many new friends who identify with the stage I’m at in my life, and we have formed a new core group of friends. I’m sure, though, that eventually those relationships will change, as well; either they will have kids or I will, or someone will go through another equally jarring life-shift that I will not be able to relate to. We’ll get busy, and we’ll prioritize spending time with our significant others over our BFFs. Our significant others will become our BFFs. We’ll all continue to grow and change.

People tell me now that if I think my friendships have changed a lot in the 10 years since I graduated high school to just wait until we are in our 30s and 40s. It’s about to shift even more. Like my high school self, I refuse to believe it. Sure, we’ll all change and we’ll all get busier or separated by life events or a job transfer across the country. This all might be true, but to me, it just means that the times our schedules do all line up and we can share that glass of wine together will be all the more special. And it will be just like picking up where we left off.

Ashley Lauren Samsa is a high school English teacher and freelance writer in the suburbs of Chicago. She is currently blasting music with her husband in their brand new house, where they live with their dog, Penny. She writes about feminism, relationships, and teaching at her own site—Small Strokes (http://smallstrokesbigoaks.com)—and Care2 (http://www.care2.com/causes/author/ashleys). You can follow her on Twitter @samsanator.

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