Log In

Reset Password
Columnists View from the Center Bear Smart The Travel Troubleshooter Dear Abby Student Aide Of Sound Mind Others Say Powerful solutions You are What You Eat Out Standing in the Fields What's up in Durango Skies Watch Yore Topknot Local First RE-4 Education Update MECC Cares for kids

Friendships changing as we age

It’s interesting how some friendships have withstood time just as strong as they ever were, and others have faded away. Some old friends have moved, some have died. Others are just not resonating with me now. It seems more difficult to maintain some of these friendships as we all change and grow and develop different interests and situations as we move into the last part of our lives. It’s OK, it’s letting go of a friend who we no longer have emotional energy for.

Friendships are important. They reduce the risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. Plus, they’re fun! We know how good it feels to have a cup of tea or glass of wine with someone we truly connect with. Loneliness can be a health risk, as we’ve all read. And close relationships with family have almost no effect on longevity, as compared to having a good network of friends.

We have less energy that we did in mid-life, so the precious energy we do still have must be spent wisely. Why put it out there for people and things we’re not really interested in anymore?

Accidents, illnesses, and just aging limit people as to what they want to spend time doing now. Going to a bar downtown seems like something I no longer wish to do. I’d rather meet at someone’s home in small groups of people in order to have a more intimate conversation. Perhaps COVID-19 did that to many of us. I’m also needing more solitude now, time to ponder, and process all that’s happening.

I have one very long friendship with a woman who has just broken her leg. This has narrowed her life to just what she immediately needs and loves. She lives far away, and I must accept the fact that she just doesn’t have that much time and energy left to connect with me. So, it works both ways. I am trying to consider this as a change, not a loss. But I miss her.

And others are dying now, or their partners are dying and that takes them into an entirely different set of circumstances. And then there’s ghosting, when someone completely drops off our radar for an unknown reason. That happens too And I receive fewer holiday cards now — are these people dropping me, or are they just not doing cards anymore?

I have some very old friendships from far away and long ago that I cherish. College friends, running and working friends, and early “besties” have grown into lives very different than mine. Sometimes it’s difficult to relate because we’re at such different places in our lives. But I make a huge effort here, as 60 year old friendships are so valuable. Friends for life!

Things seemed simpler then, friendships freer of complications. They have known me through all my changes, and vice-versa. David Whyte says:

The ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in then, and sometimes just to have accompanied then for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.

With more current friends, we can talk about present-tense things, books, current events, what’s going on now, anxieties we share, not what happened decades ago. More compelling. Good friends will mirror goodness in us, and always seem to show up when we need them.

Now we are freer to feel less about what others think of us. We’ve experienced so much in our lives that it’s easier to enjoy deeper, more open, and more compatible relationships. We have more self-reflection and increased wisdom, enabling us to hold more meaningful friendships. We are more authentic, no more personas needed. I’m resonating with people who respond to the real me, the good and the difficult parts.

Friendships change as our lives do. The gift is that we do find ourselves through one another’s eyes.

Martha McClellan has lived in Durango since 1993 and has been an educator, consultant and writer. Reach her at mmm@bresnan.net.