But We Have History!: Adult Friendships that Make Sense

Jessy came in crying about her relationship with a close friend, Sam. “We’ve been there for each other through so many crises: her divorce, my brother’s stint in jail, everything. A few months ago Sam got mad at me for cancelling a few happy hours. As a single mom it’s rough and I tried to explain the kids were sick, the babysitter quit, and my elderly neighbor is now in hospice. She went off on me, saying the kids were sick because I didn’t feed them right, the babysitter quit because I was cheap, and my neighbor was a loser who didn’t need help. I was completely blindsided and lashed out. I told her she was a drunk and that she should have taken care of her mother when she was sick, instead of pawning her off on some expensive nurse. Then she says, we need to get together and talk. I said I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have said those things, but I have a house full of sick kiddos and a dying neighbor. I can’t go out, but why don’t you come over tonight when everyone’s in bed? She says no thanks, call me when you can go out, and hung up. This was months ago, and we hadn’t talked since. Then out of the blue she calls me. Let’s do happy hour she says! Of course, my life is still crazy between my job, the kids after school activities and my volunteer commitments. So I suggest we meet up at a community event we’re both interested in and take it from there. No, the only way she’ll see me is one-on-one over drinks. I just don’t understand.”

Adult friendships can be as convoluted and confusing as middle school ones. Jessy decided to go to one more happy hour and talk with Sam, hoping to repair and move forward. Unfortunately Jessy just confirmed that Sam was unable to see the reality of Jessy’s full life. It seems their friendship worked when Jessy had a husband and babies she could bring along, but not now. Soon Jessy began choosing friendships with women who could relate to her.

It can be painful to end long-term close friendships, but as a middle school girl explained to me recently, life is too short to spend it with people who don’t get you. I couldn’t agree more.