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Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Age of Losing Friends

We all have that friend or friends who never seem to be available. You invite them to all functions you plan and they always have something else to do, but for some reason you always find yourself inviting them anyway. We all also have those friends that take it one step further, either pretending they don't see the invites or just flat out ignoring you. As time goes on, eventually you just stop reaching out at all and they fall off your list of friends.

About a year ago, one of my best friends from high school moved literally down the street with his fiance. We talked about how great that would be and how much more we would see each other. At first, we did, but that quickly changed. After a few get togethers, attending one of their wedding showers, and eventually the wedding, we lost touch.

It wasn't for a lack of trying on our part either.  Messages would be sent, clearly read (Facebook messenger shows when messages are opened...) and were flat out ignored. Texts were left unanswered, phone calls never returned. It appeared blatant. I mean, most everyone knows you can see when someone reads your message. Were they trying to make a statement? It left Brandon and I and other friends who had reached out collectively wondering what we had done wrong.

I wracked my brain and combed through our last few interactions to see if I could figure out what had gone wrong. Was it something we said or did? Did we offend them somehow without realizing it? Did something happen that we were totally blind to? I had a lot of theories, but just couldn't be sure. All the more confusing, my friend drove by us while we were walking one day, stopped to talk, and acted like NOTHING was wrong. Of course he suggested a get together and nothing ever came of it.

I still don't know the exact reason they pulled away from our friendship, but I have been thinking about this a lot lately. It seems that within the last few years, this has happened with many people I considered friends. Just last week I texted a friend to get dinner, she didn't acknowledge the dinner invite, asked me a question, and never responded to me after I answered. Then there are those who respond, but two weeks later. I find myself asking WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?! IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME?!

It was late last week that one of the morning radio shows I listen to was talking about just this. According to a recent study by Aalto University in Finland and the University of Oxford in England, when people reach their mid-twenties they begin to lose social contacts at a rapid rate. PHEW! At least I know I'm not alone, but it still didn't make me feel much better. If the decline has already started to happen, what does that mean for my circle of friends in 5 years or 10 or 20?

Apparently, the study blames the fact that people's focus tends to shift around this time in life. They start to weigh out what they want and who provides that for them. According to the findings, women especially tend to focus on "best" friendships as a way to create a tight inner circle, specifically for when they begin to have children. So basically, what the study is saying is the people who aren't answering or are not putting in the effort don't see me as a part of their inner circle.

Cool. Cool. I get it. While my initial reaction is to be offended, it got me thinking. I have started to frame things much the same way. You people don't want to respond to me? That's okay, I have people who do respond, enjoy spending time with me, and care when things are going well and maybe are not going so well. Is it worth putting the effort in for those that don't? No! And that's okay.

I wrote a post a month or so ago after our housewarming party. We invited over 40 people and in the end only about 10 showed up. When we looked around the room we realized it was a majority of our bridal party and family. Those are the people who have stood by us before and are still standing by us now. That's not to say that there aren't others who I will still try and reach out to.

I am realizing that we are going through the "Age of Losing Friends," but I am choosing to look at it in a positive light. According to the numbers we may be losing friends, but we are also creating a tight inner circle that will be with us through all the joys and troubles we might face. At this point in life, it's not worth chasing someone who doesn't consider you part of their own circle, so here's to those who do! Thank you for being part of my entourage!

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