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The Ebb & Flow of Friendships January 2, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, People.

Tiggers-R-UsOn our way from THERE to HERE, we enjoy the company of thousands of people who add light, love, and laughter to life.

Imagine them all crowded into the space you occupy here and now.

Would you have room to breathe?

Envision all your grade school, high school, college, and graduate school friends tugging on your sleeves to get you to “come out and play.”

Add in your relatives (dead or alive), co-workers (from every job you ever had, including kids you babysat for and homeowners whose lawns you mowed), and friends from every port of call.

Each and every one of them requiring time and attention.

Starting to feel a bit claustrophobic?

BFF and I have moved around a bunch.  We do not have room in our lives for all the people who came and went before.

Not if we want to negotiate the space we currently inhabit.

7dwarfsWe keep in touch with interested friends and acquaintances through phone, e-mail, FB, and the annual exchange of Christmas cards, but we’ve lived and worked in so many places that we tend to “let go” as soon as they do.

We figure they were in our life for a “season” and now the season is over.

Friendships come and go, they ebb and flow like the tides.  We drift together and then drift apart.


I’ve noticed the same happens in cyber-space.  We follow blogs for a time, and then press “unsubscribe.”

Letting go is part of life.

After all, if we hang on to the past with both hands, how can we open the present?

Aah . . . that’s better!

How about you?  Do you find it hard to let go of people, places, and things?


1. Rainee - January 2, 2014

So true! On the other hand, I have recently linked up again with some old school friends via Facebook. I find Facebook is a good vehicle to keep in touch with others’ lives without the demands of face to face relationships.

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

I have mixed feelings about Facebook . . . especially when our circle of friends gets “too big.” After I joined Facebook, I added “friends” from HS, College, past jobs, cyber space, etc. The constant influx of irrelevant intel in my news feed from 500+ “friends” caused me to pare down the list. Substantially.

I think I like it better when I’m “out of the loop.” 😛

2. Carl D'Agostino - January 2, 2014

So many friends that were a very concrete part of my life have seemed to have evaporated. I don’t know where they are or how and why it happened.

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

Moves, marriages, children, new jobs, new interests, new hobbies, new friends, health issues, etc. ~ all can cause friendships to fade. Sometimes we can rekindle them, sometimes we can’t. Proximity helps ~ both geographic and philosophic.

3. suzicate - January 2, 2014

Knowing when to let go is one of life’s biggest lessons. It rings true in friendships and many areas. I’ve had many friends for seasons, and a few special ones for a lifetime thus far. Nice post, Nancy. Here’s to a year of not being crowded but touching others, just as this post will.

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

Thanks, Suzi. So true. Knowing when to let go can be tough.

One of my best friends growing up and I drifted apart over time due to differing values and perspectives. After a friendship that had spanned decades, I began to see HER with greater clarity. Instead of interpreting her actions through the cloudy lens of past perspective and shared history, I looked closer and realized she was not who I thought she was. Quite an eye opener! 😯

I didn’t sever ties immediately, but I did stop making an effort to always be available to do what she wanted to do ~ I stopped being her convenient sidekick. That did the trick. I’m not even sure she knows I’ve gone missing. 😉

4. Beth Ann - January 2, 2014

Very true. I do make a concerted effort to stay in touch but so often it seems one sided and after years of getting no return response it really is time to purge that name from the Christmas card list, right? I think others do not always place the same value on friendships that I do . However—when I do reconnect with someone from the past it is always a wonderful experience and it makes me want to rekindle all of those by gone friendships because it feels so good!!!

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

“Simplify Your Life” by Elaine St. James helped me to purge a whole lot of clutter and detritus from my life ~ she gave readers “permission” to let go of people, places, and things that held habitual spots and time slots without adding depth and quality to life. It’s liberating to let go of what’s not working and frees up time for more valuable pursuits.

Before reading her book, I kept people on my Christmas Card list due to our shared history, rather than any evidence of continued caring and sharing. I expect they did the same to honor a sense of friendly obligation.

That year, instead of sending out 150+ cards, I became more selective about “initiating” the annual exchange with people who weren’t “near and dear” ~ I waited to see what “they” would do if they didn’t get a card from me. Not surprisingly, the largely empty exchange of annual greetings dried up in short order.

Now we keep in touch with a select few. Much better!

Beth Ann - January 2, 2014

Thanks for the great book suggestion—I have seen that but not read it so now it is on my TBR list. I think that I just hate to let go of people but you know—if the connection is not strong enough on their end to maintain than is it really fair to have a one sided relationship??? You gave me a lot to think about today! Thanks!

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

It is one of the most life changing books I’ve ever had the pleasure to read ~ we made several paradigm shifts after reading through her essays.

When we “let go” of one thing to make room for another, it’s easier.

BTW: The year I read Simplify Your Life, I bought 10 copies to give as gifts. Enjoy!

5. shreejacob - January 2, 2014

Actually…I don’t really have a lot of trouble letting go of friends and such. There have been a few where I’ve stubbornly hung on like a barnacle on the side of a ship…but I was okay of letting go.

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

Go you! I had a tougher time “letting go” when I was younger. I was a bit of a “pack rat” . . . with people places and things cluttering up my playing surface.

Now, I’m more mindful about whether the things in my life still have value. If not, bye-bye. 😀

6. Arlee Bird - January 2, 2014

This has been on my mind of late during the holiday season. So many old friends gone by the wayside. Problem is that I’m not making new ones other than in my virtual life of blogging. Many there though.

Tossing It Out

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

When we have fewer friends tugging at our sleeves, competing for attention, we have more time for people, places, and things that still matter to us.

That said, if a friend’s absence caused me to feel a void, I would reach out and try to rekindle the dying embers.

7. Morgan - January 2, 2014

Love This 🙂

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

Thanks, Morgan. Hope your year is off to a great start.

8. katecrimmins - January 2, 2014

Maybe it’s the season but I was thinking about all the “gone” friends this week. I was wondering where they are or what they’re doing. Not enough to search them out just enough to wonder for a moment. I want to say it’s about the time but I really think that there isn’t any enjoyment for the effort. Bloggers are like that too. Some go quiet and you miss them. Some go quiet and you don’t even realize it.

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

I know exactly what you mean ~ the ones that we miss straight away are the ones worth inquiring after.

Those that we don’t notice have gone quiet . . . oh, well. 😉

9. ericjbaker - January 2, 2014

I’ve offended more than a few people over the years by “moving on.” But moving on doesn’t mean the experiences I had with people were less valuable or forgettable. They were just of that particular moment. Perhaps some folks feel they need to be validated through being wanted or desired. Perhaps they are not comfortable in their own skin. Does listening to silence make you feel peaceful or frightened?

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

Yes!!! Silence = Peaceful!

I have rarely had to come right out and say, “Look, it’s me, not you . . . but I don’t think we should remain friends.” Instead, as soon as I “let go,” they drifted away. A few made an actual effort to re-connect, but not many. Most turned their attention to diversions far more interesting than me. 😛

10. Pix Under the Oaks - January 2, 2014

We tend to let go. Must have been all those years in the military.

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

Moving around, in or out of the military, allows us to see how little sense it makes to try and stay in touch with EVERYONE ~> as elusive as chasing individual water droplets over the dam.

11. Nia Ceridwyn - January 2, 2014

I go through this was well. Recently I was just ‘unfriended’ by a person who my husband and I had supported in so many ways, including financially, and that left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, but I try to remember all the good parts of the friendship we had, and not to dwell on that sourness. It was obvious the friendship was languishing, anyway.

Facebook is a bit of a struggle for me. I have some friends from high school and college who occasionally find me and want to be friends, but I find I have little to nothing in common with them now, and it’s hard to keep up the Facebook friendship even, and I end up unfriending them.

The best thing to do is what you said, realize that friendships are not permanent. They ebb and flow and are not meant for such permanence in all cases. All relationships are cycles, some are just meant for longer or shorter times.

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Nia. Anytime someone leaves me with a “sour taste” in my mouth, I look on the bright side ~ figuring that, in the long run, I’m better off without them.

At first, hooking up with HS and College friends on FB was a blast ~ “hey, I often wondered what had happened to you!” But, as you note, we don’t always have enough things in common to sustain the renewed friendship past the first few tentative overtures. Or, maybe, we remember why we “let go” the first time.

12. Grannymar - January 2, 2014

At least with cyber friends there are no meals to cook or dirty linen to launder! 😉

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

Unless, of course, they show up on your doorstep one day! I’ve enjoyed 5 blogging meet-ups thus far (and none ended up in overnight visits), so I can’t complain. :mrgreen:

Grannymar - January 2, 2014

I have had a couple of overnighters and a few others who came to share a meal or a full day, but most I meet away from my own patch.

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

Same here. In fact, Jeanne and Dean (Flying G’ma blog) might be the only ones who’ve visited us at the villa ~ after we went out for lunch at Rotten Ralph’s.

We met Robyn (Team Oyeniyi) in Orlando at Season’s 52, Renee (Life in the Boomer Lane) at Ginny & Jane E’s on the island (at a book signing), Pix & Jerry (in Venice) where we ate cookies and drank wine.

#5 ~ Cindy and her twins. I knew Cindy in HS but hadn’t seen her in 35 years, except on FB. They did spend the night before setting sail on a cruise out of Miami.

13. colonialist - January 2, 2014

It is fun having a wide circle, but then it becomes too time-consuming to keep up, and one has this feeling of desperation when getting behind. Not good. One has to find balance.

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

Yes! Life is about finding the right balance in all things. As much as I love blogging (both reading and writing), I don’t want to be glued to my office chair all day every day. So, I have to evaluate which blogs offer the most value for the time commitment required.

~ Hey, maybe that’s why I gravitate to bloggers who share “short and sweet” posts (rather than those who are prone to long winded posts that drone on and on). 😛

colonialist - January 3, 2014

*looks uneasily at some of the longer posts planned to waffle on in 2014* 🙂

nrhatch - January 3, 2014

Oops! It appears I’ve made several people uneasy with my feeble gest. My bad! 😳

It isn’t length, per se, that turns me away ~> it’s posts that meander round and round the mulberry bush without making a discernible point that cause me to feel I’ve wasted time rather than spent it wisely. Unless, of course, the post made me LAUGH. As far as I’m concerned, laughing is NEVER a waste of time. :mrgreen:

14. jannatwrites - January 2, 2014

For me, letting go hasn’t been terribly difficult. When a friendship has run it’s course, it feels natural to let it go. On the contrary, I can also be lazy about putting in effort in the relationships that really do matter.

There are some blogs that I don’t read as closely anymore, but if I’m too busy to read, I just delete the email. I guess I feel unsubscribing is a bit harsh…

Hey, did you just unsubscribe to my blog? 😛 haha…

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

No worries, Janna! I’m still following your blog . . . where I often tell you what I REALLY think. 😛

And I’m with you on the laziness thing too ~ I often postpone picking up the phone to the point that it’s become a bit “awkward.”

15. Eric Tonningsen - January 2, 2014

I like that you are checking the “reality box,” Nancy. There is often more that we want to hold onto than there is capacity. It’s not unlike physically relocating (to which you speak). If one has navigated that experience enough times, we learn the necessity and prudence in pruning.

To your question: I don’t find it hard to let go of people, places and things because I know I also have the choice to keep those that are most meaningful. And I do. 🙂

Eric Tonningsen - January 2, 2014

P.S. Just read the comment thread (which I don’t have time to do) and understand your “gravitational” preferences. I will continue to post in the verbose rather than brevity vein. And with that choice, I may lose some readers. Que sera, sera… 🙂

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

Your posts don’t seem verbose to me, Eric. You get in, make your points, and get out. Short and sweet.

If I’m following your blog less closely than a few months back, it’s because I realized we’re “on the same page” much of the time ~ your topics and the topics on SLTW overlap to large extent.

And, when we aren’t on the same page, it’s usually because I’ve turned “that page” on purpose since it didn’t resonate with my experiences ~ for example, setting goals, leaving a legacy, etc.

But you have the right attitude . . .

When we are enjoying the journey, we stop worrying about finding our intended audience ~ we trust that our intended audience will find us.

Write on!

16. Booksphotographsandartwork - January 2, 2014

Exactly. Life moves. Always changing.

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

Yes! Can you imagine the contrary . . . waist deep in stagnant water, sharing the same experiences over and over again with the same people. That would be like being stuck on a cruise that never pulled up to port. ACK!

17. Patricia - January 2, 2014

I have never had lots of friends. Lots of acquaintances but friends not so much. Those who are now friends, or those who have been friends for a season, are precious to me but I don’t hold them tightly in my grip. We, real life friends and cyber friends, are free to come and go whenever and for whatever reason. Sometimes the parting is forever sometimes just for a while.

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

I had more friends when I was younger . . . in part because I defined “friendship” differently. There were lots of “pretend friends” in the mix.

Now my pool of TRUE friends (real and cyber) is far smaller, but it’s a quality crowd. :mrgreen:

Patricia - January 2, 2014

Quality is always better than quantity in friendships…and in regards to chocolate, too.

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

So true. Here’s to friends who are worth their weight in gold.

18. Andra Watkins - January 2, 2014

I still find it hard to let relationships that really mattered to me go. I’m getting better with that, but I still feel that twinge sometimes. I attended a wedding over the weekend: my best friend through college’s younger brother. She and I are no longer friends. She didn’t go to the wedding (because two men were getting married.) It was the first time I was able to look at that friendship and appreciate it for what it was, yet still realize that life has moved forward – – the first time I didn’t have that twinge (and we’ve not been friends for six or seven years now.)

nrhatch - January 2, 2014

Glad you had a chance to attend her brother’s wedding, even if she was in absentia.

It’s hard to let go of people who “really mattered” to us. It’s easier if we can wait until they’ve ceased to matter and then let go.

19. Three Well Beings - January 3, 2014

I do have a little trouble letting go of people. I think that through the years I probably kept some relationships propped up that would have passed on had I not worked so hard. It’s true, however, that it gets crowded. I do feel that. Thanks, Nancy, for some food for thought in the new year. I do think this is an area I could consider working on a bit. 🙂

nrhatch - January 3, 2014

Some friendships are worth tending . . . others, not so much.

When we got around to “weeding our garden” in 1997 (after multiple interstate moves), I took a long look at each friendship I was feeding and watering to see if there was any “new growth.” That helped me decide which blooms to keep in the garden and which to weed out.

20. bluebee - January 4, 2014

It is the natural order of things, I think – we change, our interests and passions change, the way we find meaning changes – so friendships, blogging or otherwise, are bound to be affected.

nrhatch - January 4, 2014

Exactly! Many of the friends we left behind added VALUE to our days and vice versa. But letting them go provides room for new growth, opportunities, experiences. Pruning overgrown gardens allows new flowers to bloom .

21. Perfecting Motherhood - January 15, 2014

Life is very fluid, constantly moving, constantly changing. Holding on to people, things, places for too long can stop us for moving and growing. I’m definitely a let-go person, wiping out the past if I’m done with it. And I don’t hoard anything in the house. Well, expect maybe for art & craft supplies.

nrhatch - January 15, 2014

Yes! I find some things harder to let go of than others ~ arts and crafts supplies among them. 😀

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