Not long ago, someone shared, “Sometimes people just drop off, don’t they?” We were talking about a mutual friend who both of us had lost contact with for no other reason than we simply drifted apart. It was as if we reached an unspoken agreement that our lives were now different and we were moving in directions that didn’t include each other in the same way anymore. No fighting. No disagreement. Just done.
That same week, my niece posted her most recent blog and it hit me — relationships aren’t one-size-fits-all and losing one is just as instrumental and worthy as gaining. What does that mean? We all know we have those friends or even lovers we hold onto far longer than we ever should. Out of habit, familiarity, devotion, guilt — name your poison. And as we get older, making new connections on any level just feels more difficult. So we stick, right? Even though we don’t have to, even though it isn’t good for either of us. We hang in there because we…
And that’s where we’ll begin.
“Everything old will one day be new again… right?”
Love in any form changes over time. If you are truly in tune with whoever you are in a relationship with — family, friends, romance — you roll with the shifting tide of who they are and who you are, maintaining that connection no matter how much time passes. And this doesn’t mean you speak everyday, even if you used to. This means that when you do come together, it’s like picking up where you left off or falling back into a rhythm that, even though you may have unique perspectives to bring to the table and that ebb and flow rocks in a different way, still works.
Our experiences, after all, shape us and the more we encounter, the more our definition of life and how we walk our paths adjust to accommodate the new information. We are always learning — hopefully — and what is new can refresh and enhance what was old. But sometimes… SOME-times… our new does not work with a “near-and-dearest”’s old or vice-versa. We or they are holding onto how we used to be, the jokes we used to share, the topics we used to vibe on. One or both of us just can’t adjust to where the other is and, suddenly, we find ourselves at a loss as to how to deal with one another.
When that happens, many of us figure it’ll work itself out, right? Especially in romance, I’ve found. But even in friendships and our family, we can diverge from or even move beyond each other. And no matter how much we want what we once had to emerge again, there are times it just doesn’t. It can’t. We’ve gone too far past where we were and that’s when we have to take a hard look at whether it makes sense to continue.
Hard but so true.
“I’m too old to start anew. I’ll stick with what I have.”
Sure. Okay. BUT… just as every experience brings us something new to the table, so do fresh interactions and unfamiliar connections. The older we get, the more settled we can become and we slow down expanding our friendship/relationship circle. I’ll be honest. I’m a hard-core introvert. The whole “stay at home” order fed right into my personality because not having to engage with a lot of people is my hermetic preference. And yet…
In the last year alone, I have made new connections with some really awesome humans I consider friends. Do we need 400 “friends?” Um, no. Probably not. But could we use some fresh perspectives in our life from time to time, people who aren’t acquaintances but whose insight, opinions, and hearts we genuinely value and who haven’t known us forever? Yes. We do.
There is a unique richness to the relationships we build later in life, a lack of artifice because we no longer have time for the “bullshit,” as I’ve heard many old and new friends say. Legitimately, making lasting connections as you get older becomes harder. We establish both love and platonic relationships on shared experiences and when we begin younger, they build over time. When we’re older, we’re coming from a different perspective — again, that set in our ways/been there done that thing — and loneliness can set in. Granted, the old standbys of taking classes, joining groups or signing up for workshops isn’t quite so easy. But because of that, so many online “gatherings” have been started to help bridge those gaps. These can even get us out of our comfort zone, leading to wonderful interactions and NEW shared experiences.
But, back to that part about not letting go when you need to. This is another area where we stick with what we know because it’s easy. It is familiar. And, yet, it may not be serving us. Saying goodbye to someone you’ve cared about is hard. But there are times when it is necessary. And the other side of it is a light that you may not have seen in a long time because you hung on for too long in hopes that you wouldn’t be alone, you wouldn’t have to start over, you wouldn’t have to…
Fill in the blank.
“When one door closes…”
Love and loss — they go hand in hand. It is the natural way of things and by saying goodbye to one does not mean you have to wallow in the other. Sloughing off what doesn’t serve you is that chance to keep growing, stay open and continue moving forward. And when you have special people in your life who support all of that, it makes it all the more exciting, delicious…
Strong, positive relationships enhance our overall well-being — emotional, physical and mental. Whether it’s our family, our friends or our lovers, who we surround ourselves with in our lives gives us a base from which we build on with others. While much of what we’ve just shared encompasses our chosen attachments, blood relatives fall into this as well. You’ve probably noticed how you and your sibs, your parents, your kids — whoever — have those moments when you realize, “Oh, wow… we don’t see eye to eye on that at all,” or “We used to be so close but not so much anymore.”
Conversely, you may even have that, “All we did was fight when I was younger, but now? We’re best friends.” That, too, happens in other relationships. Someone you knew in passing suddenly has more in common with you than your dearest friends — it’s part of that up and down, today and tomorrow, that “grow and change” of our journey.
It’s exciting, really. This relationship thing. The possibilities are endless and if we keep open to them, they are rich and rare in their beauty. Alexander Graham Bell once said, “When one door closes, another door opens; but we so often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door, we do not see the ones which open for us.”
Close that door when it needs to be closed. Or if it’s shut on you, don’t hide from the hurt — you need to feel it so you can let it go to make room for the door that opens. That way, when you walk through, you’ll welcome what comes next.