When Friends Are Only in Your Life for a Short Time

When Friends Are Only in Your Life for a Short Time

When John and I lived in Andersonville, Chicago, we walked into a secondhand shop that didn’t have a sign out front. There was no way we could have known, but we were feeling adventurous. We walked into the store and found John his signature adidas shoes. I found this men’s Levi jean jacket. My favorite oversized jean jacket. The secondhand shop could have been easily missed and passed over.

Life can be like that. Most people can be like that. Most people don’t have signs above them saying “be friends with me,” “ask me to go on a date,” or “marrying me would be a good idea”. People are hidden adventures easily missed. Asking questions and getting to know what’s inside a person can be a trip. Don’t let the unknown hold you back.

Many times, in sessions I can see clients struggle with putting time into a relationship. Either it’s a dating relationship or a friendship. They want to know. — is this going to last. Is it worth my time? What keeps us from wanting to open up to friendship? Is it fear? Hurt?

I would argue it’s a mixture of grief and fear. I noticed with myself and clients that there are seasons where making new friends can be difficult and it often comes during a time in our lives where relationships have ended. When friendships end there can be a grief that comes. Whether the friendship ends because of a move, a job change, a new life season or a conflict, there is a sense of loss. Recognizing that you may need grief work or a time to process the endings of those relationships can be really healthy. Taking a pause can also prepare you to open up for new friendships again.

My husband and I disagree on how we enjoy restaurants. I enjoy the atmosphere and familiarity of a restaurant that I have been to before. I love having places I go for certain occasions. My husband enjoys a new restaurant. He loves trying foods he has never tasted before. He finds enjoyment in the risk of a new place to eat. I love our relationship because this gives us a balance. We can have new experiences and appreciate the old ones. I love looking back on the taco restaurant that was in the back of the apartment I lived in for one short summer and the coffee shop outside of my workplace that I would frequent for 5 years and the place my husband and I met for the first time.

Friendships are the same way. It is a beautiful thing to have seasoned friendships. They provide a space for your tired heart that gives you comfort as the feeling of familiarity wraps around you. Newer friendships are like finding a risky new place to eat. You don’t know what will happen. However, there are two ways this risk can end. Either you get to know a new person who has their own story, experiences, beautiful perspectives that you are able to learn about for a short time before you go your separate ways or you can hold onto the friendship as a beautiful relationship with tons of life memories and experiences, just like the old coffee shop my husband and I met at. Both situations are an adventure, risky, and you come out with more memories and lessons. Neither are a waste of time.

In order to open yourself up to new friendships I would shift your perspective from viewing friendships as an exchange for time but as an exchange for experiences. I would also encourage you to look inward and ask yourself if you are viewing connection and friendship as something you consume verses something you experience. When we view others in our lives as someone to serve us — that’s having a consumerism mindset about relationships. No wonder you view short term friendships as “a waste of time”. There’s not really a way for an individual to give you more than experiences, presence, and connection. When you make this shift, pouring yourself into getting to know another human being is never a waste of time.

In theology we learn the phrase “Imago Dei” (Genesis 1:27) or Created in Gods image. Each person we come across is a mirror of who God is. I have found this to be true in my experience as a therapist. Each one of my clients has taught me so much. Even my clients who I have only seen three times. I never feel like our meeting was a waste. There is a reason we met a few times and I am still honored to be a part of their story. The same can be when you meet an individual and you are only friends for three months. You also never know when a risky last minute meet up could become a familiar space for you to celebrate life with.

If you are feeling stuck with making friends here are some tips:

  1. Focus on how you can be a good friend.
  2. Look at your hobbies and interests and find people to join you. If you don’t have hobbies maybe this is your sign to start one.
  3. Free up time to be more available to others.
  4. Reach out to a more established friendship and catch up.
  5. Ask yourself what you’ve been telling yourself about your worth. Are you telling yourself things like “no one wants to be your friend” or “I will be alone the rest of my life”. Although these are just thoughts, they actually work against your goals of connecting with others.
  6. Remember that friendship doesn’t have to be a forever thing.

Remember, friendships, whether fleeting or long-lasting, contribute to the rich tapestry of your life experiences. Embrace each connection for what it brings, and be open to the lessons and joys that come with meeting new people. Take risks! Some of my favorite people are ones I have only met in passing and may never meet again. Cherish the moments, learn from the interactions, and understand that every friendship, no matter its duration, has value. Life is a continuous journey of connections, and each one plays a part in shaping who you are.

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Hannah Lynn Miller
Hannah Lynn Miller

Hannah is a radio/podcast host, blogger, and mental health therapist who loves Jesus and fashion. Her work revolves around betrayal trauma and the eldest daughter population.

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