When you fall out of friendship

I’m at an interesting point in my life right now. I’m four years out of college, nine years out of high school. I’ve been in the professional world for four years, at my current job for two. I’ve been in a relationship with Luffy for three years. I haven’t lived in my hometown in four years. I’m moving farther away from my school years and my adolescence, which means that I find myself falling out of friendships.

If you were to ask me, right now, who my best friend is, I’d say Liz. I’ve known Liz since I was in the third grade and we’ve been best friends since sixth grade. We were inseparable. We went to the same middle school, high school, and college. We talked constantly, always made sure to pair up for any school assignments that we could, and consulted each other on every important matter (re: a clear phone for my room – the coolest or the lamest??). I knew her phone number by heart and it’s still one of the few phone numbers I actually know. (My brother’s cell number, for instance, I have no idea what it is since I always had a cell phone to store it.) She’s the answer to all of my security questions. She was the maid of honor at my wedding because of course she was, she’s my best friend.

So yes. Liz is my best friend. Except that my wedding was also the last time I saw her. We last exchanged emails at the end of June. My phone tells me the last time I called her was … oh wait, my phone’s log doesn’t go back that far. She’s never seen my home. She’s only visited me twice since I moved to Dallas and I’ve visited her once while I was home for the holidays. It’s not that we don’t enjoy each other’s company or talks; it’s just that life got in the way.

One of my favorite bloggers over at Wait But Why put together a post a couple months back that really hit home. In it, he discusses the different types of friendships people have and how those friendships can be good, bad, or quirky. For me, Liz is a blend of types six and seven – “The Historical Friend” and “The Non-Parallel Life Paths Friendship.” The whole article is interesting and humorous, so I suggest you go read it (or anything Tim writes, he’s hilarious), but in the meantime, a little summary of the two:

  • The Historical Friend – Someone you became friends with when you were really little and then stayed friends with throughout the years. The catch here is that you would not be friends with this person if you met today because you just don’t mesh now.
  • The Non-Parallel Life Paths Friend – Basically, Tim talks about where I am right now. (It’s like he’s speaking to me!) Up to about the age 24 or so, everyone is on somewhat the same life path and moves through the different phases about the same time. Most of this has to do with school, right, everyone graduates at roughly the same age. But now, after college, people start maturing and branching off at different paces. And these different paces can suddenly mean that you don’t have much in common anymore.

Now I imagine there are a lot of us out there with friends who fall in between those two categories (especially if you’re about my age). For me, Liz is a casualty of this. She’s not quite a full-on Historical Friend because I do like her and we might possibly still become friends if we were to meet today. We do still enjoy our talks, when we have them, if we have them. She’s not quite a full-on Non-Parallel Life Paths Friend because we’re not the “darker, more permanent” type that Tim goes into (go read!), but it still describes our relationship fairly accurately.

For us, we are both studious, type A girls with a silly sense of humor. We both like to read and we both appreciate a job well-done. But now that school’s over, that doesn’t get us very far. Our life paths are completely different. She graduated college with an art degree and started part time work, trying to figure out if there was anything she could do with her obscure degree. I studied accounting and then went on to graduate school. After I graduated, I moved to Dallas and began working full time. She decided to go back to school then to get her masters. During all of that, I had gone through an abusive relationship and come out the other side while she had spent her college years not really dating anyone at all. Fast forward a couple of years and now I’m married and trying to have children and she’s still working on her masters degree and hoping to find a job within the next six months. She’s also fairly sure she never wants children and has no interest in finding a life partner beyond her pets right now.

Like Tim said, we don’t have that much in common anymore. Proximity (and, let’s face it, laziness) kept us friends for far longer than we probably would have been otherwise. Now our emails are short and our missed calls go un-returned.

In some ways, it’s sad. She was my rock throughout grade school and now we can barely gather the enthusiasm to catch each other up on our lives. Time, and distance, has a way of deteriorating even the best of relationships. On the brighter side, I’ve also been introduced to a lot of new people – through my work here and through my husband. So as I’m letting go of some friendships, I’m reaching out for new ones.