My mom’s first piece of marriage advice is to always have girlfriends. But that can be easier said than done. Among the baffling realizations that come with age is that some friendships end. Not just due to circumstance — fights, breakups, new jobs, new lovers, changing personalities, moving away — some friendships just end.
I have grieved dying friendships and felt guilty about not caring at all. I have quietly wondered what I did wrong. I have hurt like hell at a snub, and purposefully snubbed because I was mad. I have sworn it was over, sometimes for years, and come back over tears (sometimes the best decision ever). I have welcomed some back in a tepid, networking-type way. I have realized that some friendships end permanently, others for a time, and still others might begin anew between two independently transformed people.
I wonder if my workplace friendships provide a better model forward. You really learn who your friends are when you leave a job, and it can be surprising to realize who remains one month, one year, and five years later. Perhaps this extends to friendships, too — you really learn which friendships were built to last when they can end respectfully, and come back anew on one random, delightful day. Further, most times when you leave a job it’s understood that change is ahead. It’s understood that career transitions make space for new things in your life. Perhaps we should celebrate our platonic relationship transitions because they create space for new friends, more family time, or please God more sleep.
But it would be most radical, and perhaps transformative, to accept an end as it is — neither a judgement on the past, nor a moment to make dramatic statements about oneself or another in the future. You can be friends forever, or not.