Where Are Your Friends on Your Intimacy Ladder?
By Chandra Lynn
Have you ever had a bestie that you talked to you almost every day and now you’re not as close to as you used to be? That disconnection can cause you pain and make you question the relationship and what you mean to them now (and vice versa). There are lots of reasons why our relationships with our friends change over time. Sometimes we come together when we’re single and have lots of time to invest in each other, and then one gets into a relationship that soaks up their available time. Sometimes it’s hard to invest while juggling a job, kids, romantic relationship and more, leaving less time for friends.
This is all understandable, but the problem lies in not communicating the change of expectations in the relationship. We can take friends for granted, thinking that they’ll just be there when we have time. But actually, it can be hurtful to friends when we’re there one minute and disappear the next. Some friends are casual about it and it feels like no time has passed after not seeing each other for a long period of time. Other friends get really hurt by our lack of availability and can feel abandoned. You may have felt this way too and can relate.
This happens a lot when two single people spend a lot of time together and one gets into a relationship and is no longer available. The single friend is still as available as (s)he always was though and needs to be reassured that your need for change doesn’t diminish what they mean to you.
It’s totally natural for a relationship to go through changes, but it really helps when you lead a discussion about the change and seek to create a renewed agreement about the basis of the friendship and what each of you can offer, including time commitments. How possible is it to check in every day, week, month or year?
There are a couple of things that you can do to prevent degradation in the relationship. The first thing is to communicate verbally or in writing what that person truly means to you and what they’ve given to your life. That provides them reassurance that they are valuable to you and you don’t want them to disappear from your life and you don’t plan to event abandon them in any way, shape, or form.
The second thing that you can do is consider changing their status on your relationship ladder. For years, you could have thought of them as your number one friend and placed them on the very top of your relationship ladder. Then, all of a sudden, they are no longer available to you the way they were due to life circumstances, and you feel hurt. What can you do? You can consider changing their status on your ladder. Moving a friend down a couple of rungs on the ladder does not mean that you don’t care about them anymore. It means that you change the expectations for that friendship and adjust them to meet the current status based on what’s going on in life. When you feel hurt, it’s easy to think of just throwing a friend off the ladder entirely, but it’s really not necessary in most cases. Unless a friend has intentionally hurt you or intended you harm, all you really need to do is lower them a couple of rungs on the ladder while both of you are doing your own thing, and check-in with them from time to time to see if they want to update the blueprint for the relationship.
Sometimes, you have to jockey more than one friend’s position on your ladder. There are occasions in life where you reach a point that older friendships are outdated and just not serving you to lift your highest potential. There is nothing wrong with this, and it should actually be embraced as a healthy part of evaluating the value of your relationships, and how much you’ve grown and evolved.
One of my very best friends from high school has moved around on my ladder to the point where she’s probably touched every rung. There were times that we were inseparable and there were years that we never talked at all. I’m happy to say that we see each other on a regular basis now. What kept us connected all these years is consistent communication of a mutual desire to stay connected even when time goes by and we can’t see each other.
I have another bestie that I’ve known since the sixth grade and she lives in another state. We’ve spent more time apart then together. We managed to stay connected and now consider ourselves to become full-fledge sisters. We flew across the country to see each other during crisis times and for major celebrations like graduation. We sent cards when snail mail became practically obsolete. We are even connected on a psychic level now.
If a relationship with a friend isn’t working, consider changing their status on your relationship ladder instead of throwing them off entirely. You connected with them for some reason initially, and you may find them valuable in your friend circle once your expectations are adjusted. With that said, there are times when a relationship is not healthy and should be let go. Consider the most graceful exit you can under those circumstances and always take the high road.
My friends have meant everything to me and I fostered those relationships over many many years. Although I don’t actively seek friends, I am open to new connections that resonate on a higher vibration and they are being attracted. I love my friends and will do everything to protect and preserve these precious connections, starting with communicating what I want out of the relationship and seeking agreements about what to expect from one another which informs where we are on each other’s ladder. I also invite them to let me know if my expectations need to change, and I make sure they know what’s in my heart.
Who is on your ladder and is the current status working for you, or does it need a little adjusting?