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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Prioritizing relationships

I got into an interesting conversation with a friend of mine today. My friend, we'll call her Avery, told me that over the last year, I have basically "disappeared". That I have made it seem like I don't really care to have her around any more, and that my behavior had hurt her. 

I felt terrible. Because I love this friend of my mine, and all of my friends, and would never want to hurt them. So I apologized, and told them that even though I may have seemed like I wasn't around, it didn't mean that I didn't still love them, or want them in my life. I was honest and explained that over the last year, with all the changes that have gone on in my life, I have found it incredibly difficult to balance all of my relationships, whether platonic, familial, or romantic. 

But then I got to thinking.. I'm 29 years old. I have a boyfriend, who I love very, very much. I have a large family. I have a work schedule that at the moment, is incredibly busy and demanding. And two weeks ago, I moved 2,000 miles and two time zones away from the majority of my friends. Am I still supposed to be expected to devote the same energy to all of my relationships as I have in the past, when I was single, and lived in the same area, or at least the same time zone?

I will be the first to admit that I am not the world's best long-distance communicator. I hate talking on the phone, I am terrible at remembering to send emails (even though I always have really good intentions), I hardly ever send snail mail of any kind, and even though I used to be really good at responding to text messages right away, these days, I'm usually doing something else when they come in, and then I get busy and forget, and then end up responding like 2 days later. 

When Boyfriend and I were living together in the same place, I made a point to spend as little time as possible texting/emailing/etc. when we were together, because I wanted our time together to be OUR time together. Not time that we just spent together in the same room, but off in our own little worlds. Now that we are temporarily long-distance again, we have to make a strong effort to still stay in communication. (Side note: that's really, really hard, and I basically hate it. We talked before the move about how we were going to make sure our relationship didn't suffer because of the distance, and I think we have done a great job of staying in touch, of making sure the other knows that they're being thought of, etc., but it's still really tough to go from seeing someone every single day and being able to talk to them basically whenever you want to only talking on the phone for an hour or two each day, and only seeing each other's faces over Skype. But I digress.) The point is, that out of everyone, if I'm pressed for time (which I pretty much always am), his calls are the ones I'm going to answer. 

As time passes and people grow older, they become ensconced in their own lives. They change jobs, they move, they get married, have babies, change churches, whatever. My life is radically different than it was even two years ago.. A lot has changed - things have been added, shifted, removed entirely. I don't have the same amount of time or energy that I used to have to devote to platonic friendships. I just don't. Does that make me a bad person, or a bad friend? 

Does the fact that I prioritize my relationship, a relationship that I plan to legally make permanent in the future, over friendships make me a bad person, or a bad friend? I didn't think so, but maybe I'm wrong. Is the fact that I have hurt people, however unintentionally it was, indicative of a problem that I have, or is it something on their end? Or is it just sort of the nature of the beast, as it were....the whole time-passing-and-people-moving-on-with-their-own-lives thing? 

I try to be someone who understands that relationships tend to ebb and flow, particularly when there is a lot of distance between the parties. Sure, I've gotten my feelings hurt over the years by people ignoring me, or seeming to just disappear. But if it's someone that I truly love and want to have in my life, I have worked hard to overcome those feelings of hurt, and just understand that at the end of the day, I'm not everyone's number one priority, and that's not something I should take personally. Likewise, I guess maybe I have just started to assume that my friends think the same way that I do...that even if we go for weeks or months without talking, it doesn't mean that I don't love them, or want them in my life. 

How do you balance that? How do I make sure that my relationship with Boyfriend gets everything it needs, and that my friendships get everything they need, and that I am giving my familial relationships what they need? Does these relationships ALL require daily contact? 

I don't know how to answer these questions. I can't make everyone happy, I know that. But even knowing that, I don't want to hurt people, either. Is something like that just sometimes inevitable? 

What do you think? Do you have any advice for me on how to balance all of these things

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  1. I love how real you are in this post. I don't know if its a good or bad thing but I don't have that many close friends so I have never been in this situation but I get it. Well I guess in high school it was like this. I decided to go off to college and a lot of my friends stayed back. They were upset with me that I didn't keep in touch.

  2. I rarely talk to my siblings and they're about 3 hours away from me. My brother has 2 kids, a wife, and a business to run. My sister just turned 20 and these are the years where you are a complete mess. I never fault them for not calling me every second of everyday. I don't love them any less, same goes with my friends that I've been for 20 + years. Everyone has a life and should be living it, it's fun to mess someone cause you get those phone calls or hangout that leave you with great memories. She needs to get her life.

    I had a friend years ago who told me that I changed... at the time I was working full time, was engaged and going through a really tough time medically. Keep in mind I've always been the bros before .... kind of person and he was fine with that because he was the same way. Anyway, apparently she had a problem with me becoming disabled. Of all things that were going on in my life.. "we just grew apart" because I became disabled. simply tragic.

  3. I don't think you are wrong at all. I have to wonder if she has put any effort in your friendship during the time you have disappeared. I think it is only natural as life moves forward to spend the most time with who and what we want our life to be like. I don't think that means it lessens your friendships any.

  4. I totally understand this post Jordan! I had a friend who said the same thing to me while I WAS making an effort to keep in touch. It's hard to please everyone all the time.

    This year my goal is to makes an effort to text people as soon as they come into my mind. I was forgetting to keep in touch when I had the mindset of "oh I'll text her later"

  5. Dude life relationships are hard. Even internet relationships are hard. LIFE IS HARD. But I completely feel where you're coming from- sometimes in life you have to grow out of old friendships and that stuff is no joke. I'm sorry you're going through that :( much love from PA.

  6. So hard!!! I had a lot of experiences like this with a friend from high school the few years after we'd graduated. She just wasn't going anywhere in life and I was moving forward. I still consider her my friend and I try to stay caught up on her life, but where we used to text all the time and see each other almost every day, I haven't seen her in quite a while and we rarely text or talk anymore. :P I think she's gotten over it though..

  7. I try to check in with everyone when I think of them. Its totally not every day, maybe once a week... but the older I get, the busier I get and i just really hope they understand.

  8. I try to pick one friend every second week or so to just check in. I have been on both sides of the friendship and I have to be honest, I needed to make peace with the fact that times change and I can't expect the same relationships not to change when I am changing. Try and set aside time once or twice a month to contact your friends but maybe discuss their expectations and know what yours are too
    Hope this helps :)

  9. Twins again! I am horrible at communicating with most of my friends. All my best friends live hours away and I never see them so we have to rely on long distance communication and so many of my relationships have suffered because the communication is lacking. It's horrible. I don't think I could ever do a long distance relationship again. At this point in my life, I just don't see it working, but props to you on making it happen! It will get easier. I know it seems like there is no time in the day and sometimes I'm like "sleep!? I don't have time!" but I've found that scheduling things and being organized helps a lot.


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