marriage and certainly not children. We are already the odd ones for being married. I am starting to fear that once we have a child, we will have no one to relate to regarding parenthood.
Now, I’m not saying my friends don’t care about us. I just feel like we are all going down very different paths and growing apart. One couple is about to travel to India for a year. My best friend quit her job and moved to Europe to study massage therapy. Another friend is into taking heavy party drugs and staying out all night at gay bars. All of these friends are exciting, magnetic people whom I love and enjoy spending time with. My husband and I also enjoy traveling and certainly have our share of late nights, but it has just winded down at bit over the years, and we’re a more settled now. I’m afraid once we become parents, it will be very lonely and isolating because we don’t have anyone else in the same boat.
I have a strained relationship with my family, which is part of why I have always considered my friendships so important. Maybe that is why I am so fearful of us growing apart. Is this just adulthood? — Settling Down
Here’s the thing about growing older, whether you get married, stay single, have kids, or remain child-free: there will be times when you’ll feel lonely. There will be times when you’ll feel like everyone else has a more interesting, exciting, less messy life than you. There will always be people who will represent choices you could have made but didn’t and a life you could have had but don’t. There will be friends who disappoint you and friends who surprise you. Some of the people you think will be in your life forever will fade away, and some people who exist on the fringe of your social circle will be the ones you come to depend on and love the most.
Now, here’s something specific about having kids: when you become a parent, your life will simultaneously open and close in ways you can only begin to imagine right now. You will no longer have the time, energy, or interest in some of the activities that once filled your weekends. You’ll spend far less time with some of the people you consider your closest friends, particularly if they don’t have children or if they live farther than a 20-minute commute from you. And at the same time, you will meet SO many more people — people who, like you, are parents whose lives revolve, in large part, around the children they’re raising. You will meet them in neighborhood moms’ groups, and prenatal yoga classes, and at the playground and preschools and baby swim class at the Y. You won’t be able to STOP meeting other parents even if you want to. And from that pool of acquaintances, you will make new friends, some of whom may replace the friends you no longer feel as connected to. And some won’t be replacements, but additions.
And here’s the wonderful thing: whether you have kids or not, as you age, if you remain open to new connections and you keep yourself available and receptive to new friendships, in time you will find that your life is overflowing with people whom you connect with on a variety of different levels. Some will be the friends you count on to help you escape the mundane, day-to-day drudgery of domestic life. These may be the friends who knew you when you were 20 and whose company instantly takes you back to a time of few responsibilities and self-involvement. Other people will be those you connect with because you share similar hobbies or interests. Some friends will be vital to your well-being because they know what you are going through right now, in this moment, and can lend you support without asking more in return than you are able to give. And some friends will be the people you can count on no matter what, not just because they’ve known you for so long or because they have kids too or because they live in the same neighborhood; they will be the people you can count on because they are the people you invest in — the people you would drop most everything for to be there for.
Yes, friendships shift and change as we grow and as life pulls us in different directions. But if you have a true connection to someone, find the time and energy to keep nurturing it, despite your different life circumstances. Marital status, where you live, whether you have kids or not — those things mean something, of course, but the most important thing in determining the longevity of a friendship is whether your souls connect. And if they do, nothing can take that away. Certainly not the addition of a kid in your life. (And if it does, then your souls probably didn’t connect all that deeply anyway).
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.