Friendshifts: The 3 Stages From BFF To Barely Friends

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If we’re all going through ch-ch-changes, and if everything has a season, then I suppose friendships can also change, and see dead winters. As I make my way through several transitions – PR girl to writer slash PR girl, spoiled suburbanite to semi-sufficient young adult, girl to not yet a woman – I notice even more personal aspects of my life are seeing murkier transitions: BFFs becoming ‘Barely Friends Frankly.’

The rain-checks pile upon missed calls, one-word texts and minimal effort. Nights seen by punny alliterations and familiar faces are now replaced with new faces and new traditions. Old inside jokes become faint, resentment gradually begins to build, and before you know it, the elephant has made its way into the room: Are we still really friends?

If romantic relationships see break-ups, then friendships see “friendshifts.” The process is as follows:

The first stage is denial

Of course we’re still friends. I’ll text her right now. Or after this yoga class. Okay, maybe when I’m out later.

You start to mentally recount each time she’s blown you off, and overcompensate with “She was busy.” After all, there are 24 hours in a day, and she only spends three of them watching ‘Teen Mom’; she’s busy, alright! And for the times you were simply uninvited to Mojito Monday or Whatever The Hell Wednesday? You say, “She meant to invite me but forgot.” That’s right, because without a Top 8 to reference, how do we remember who our best friends are? But like everything (except for Lindsay Lohan’s liver), you reach your limit and show yourself to the light. You make time for who and want you want. Friendships are no different. And you are no longer who or want she wants – But do you really want her either?

The second stage is evaluation

Is this a friendship worth salvaging? In the past year, I’ve been at this fork-in-the-road more often than I would like to admit. It is at this particular point that I look to see what foundation the friendship was built on from the beginning. If a shared hatred for capri pants and gluten is the glue that holds you together, things are bound to crumble – or excuse me – shift.

Through honest reflection, a lot of my friendships were founded on a mutual love for the same eateries, job industry and ABC sitcoms. But taste buds change and shows get cancelled, and…I’m not completely sure where I am going with this metaphor, but the point is this: If two people share common values beyond a shallow connection and mutual respect for one another, than they can withstand a friendship dry spell or temporary cold war. Otherwise, this person may just be a chapter in your book of life.

I look at my friendship with “Grace” (Name has been changed. But frankly, this person is an accumulation of several people in my life): She and I became friends through a mutual admiration for each other’s tweets. So it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise to me when Grace only wanted to converse in conversations that could be quoted and then simultaneously tweeted. She only frequented places where she could “check-in” on Foursquare, and often be asked the question, “Which filter do you like best?” But alas, here we are. And like the majority of social media mavens, she’s more concerned about what’s hot than what’s substantial. And it looks like our friendship is so last season. And so our relationship endured a friendshift.

However, if you do feel a friendship is worth saving and cherishing, reach out to the person. If you have the time to read some bored 21-year-old’s blog, you have the time to get coffee or Skype with a friend. (Or ask about/meet-up with her and her new boyfriend when you’re two bars away, *cough, cough*.) Not to sound like your aging, hippie aunt, but in a society where we are all virtually connected, we take for granted face-to-face interaction and quality time. And I think our relationships have suffered enormously because of it. (I know, I know– Groundbreaking observation, Jazmine. What’s next, all girls have daddy issues? But it bears repeating.)

The third stage is revelation

Regardless to if you’ve made the conscious decision to start making more of an effort, or to allow this person to fall on the outskirts of your friendship circles, you will (or at least, should) walk away with some enlightenment.

I’ve voiced my concerns to my fellow friends, and now I am giving thought to how I want to enter prospective friendships. What foundations do I want my friendships to stand on? What is the difference between a “best friend forever” and a “friend for now”? What friend traits could I improve on?

I admit, I feel foolish to have kept some friends so close and not have the same love reciprocated. But in the words of Ray from GIRLS, “Marnie learned another life lesson. Adorable. Here, have a gummy.”

I am not here to negatively denote friendshifts. They are natural, and in many cases, healthy. As people, we change. Therefore, the people we keep around us change. They say friends are the family you choose, and therefore thoughtful friendships are a luxury that we shouldn’t waste…but still, shift happens.

I suppose the greatest thing I want to get across is; if the unexamined life is not worth living, then the unexamined friendship is not worth having. And, if someone isn’t making an effort, why should you? TC Mark

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