It’s true. Chances are, despite the delayed response to texts, less girl’s nights, or time on the phone, your married friend still likes you.
Recently, I read a popular article, Why It Doesn’t Matter How You Feel About Your Friends. I highly encourage taking the time to read it. The main idea is that real friends show they care. They do friendly things such as send texts, get together, and talk. While I completely agree and identify with this, I feel there is something missing. Mainly, understanding and compassion. I also feel like viewing relationships in this way can induce a lot of guilt in people who are already having a hard time — not good. Life is not so cut and dry.
For me, this was my first big dip into making friends. Before this I would have friends over to my house from my class, club, or team, but it was very low key. Junior high was the big leagues. It was then that I really started understanding what it meant to be a friend. I made lots of slip ups. I gossiped, shared secrets that should have been kept to myself, and gave people the silent treatment. I made my fair share of mistakes. But somehow we all look back on junior high as a time when we were still “figuring it out.” We forgive each other. We understand.
For me, shortly after getting married was my second “junior high” experience. I was stressed and emotionally drained. I was putting my whole self into my marriage trying to make it work. Again, after having my son, I was adjusting to a little person relying on me for everything, along with being the most tired I’ve ever been in my life. I craved good friendships, but didn’t understand how friends fit in. Call me a deer in the headlights, because that is exactly what I was.
I never knew how to balance my relationships and commitments. Do I put a lot of effort into keeping old friends? Do I throw myself into making new friends? How much time do I reserve for my spouse? What if friends are only available during the short time my spouse and I are both free? What should I do about that? These were all brand new situations to me.
I know I didn’t handle my friendships well as a newly wed or a new momma. In fact, I’ll be the first to say I cared for my friends, but didn’t show it. Does that mean my feelings of care were wasted? Does being a friend only matter if you are showing or doing something?
It is not that black and white. I really feel there must be a balance.
I wish the same forgiveness and understanding we extend to others for mess ups in junior high would be true for people going through big life changes. Moving away to college, getting married, becoming a parent, or getting a new job are all examples. These are periods when our time and priorities shift. We tend to underestimate how confusing it can be to balance our friendships.
At times, being a friend means extending forgiveness when a friend is trying to figure things out. It’s understanding when they are less responsive. It’s assuming the best of your friend. Because assuming the best of a person is needed in every relationship.
So be kind.
Be kind and understanding to those newly weds who seem so caught up in themselves. Be kind to that new momma with bags under her eyes and spit up on her shirt. Believe that they like you. Be understanding if they aren’t getting back to you. Because, chances are, they care about you more than you know, they’re more confused than you’ll ever know, and your forgiveness would mean more to them than you’ll ever know.