The Changing Faces of Friendship

“Friendship is the shadow of the evening, which strengthens with the setting sun of life.” — Jean de La Fontaine

Friendship in midlife it’s funny, isn’t it? One minute you’re giggling about a guy you think is cute. The next, you’re watching her walk down the aisle, and then you’re comparing the side effects of hormone therapy.

I longed for an adventure after a mix of pandemic loneliness and midlife blues. Many of my friends have responsibilities with their families and children, but as an only child with no children on her own, I have much more free time. Friendship in midlife pushes empathy to the next level. To fully accept that my life choices have created a unique reality for me that is rarely shared across my friendship group. But I feel selfish when I expect or even dare to demand the same. It has taken years to come to terms with the fact that my friends do not have to flex to fit the box in the shape of the experience I am yearning for. We have lived and loved for many years, and we enjoy lots of things, but it’s OK to have a change. I reached breaking point, trying to get back out there once I felt more comfortable post-pandemic. I had unanswered calls and a raft of ‘We will catch up soon. My friends are attentive and caring, and it was a difficult pill to swallow that others may not have been comfortable with covid just yet, may never be, or just don’t have the time.

At this point in my life, I want as little hard work as possible. I wanted easy new friendships. No drama, few expectations but no compromise on respect and care. I met a lovely woman at work, and we bonded instantly over our love for sushi and reggae music. She was saving to buy her house, and I’d just finished paying off mine. She was using dating apps, and I was cool flying solo. She was keen to climb the corporate ladder, and I was eager to bring her up. I didn’t want a mentee, nor did she want a mentor. We wanted friendship. And that’s precisely what we got.

I’ve never had friends to just have fun with, and I now understand the importance of having different people for different pleasures. We go to concerts together and explore life like it’s new on every occasion. We know that, most likely, we are here for a good time and not a long time but enjoy it anyway.

Friendships formed from pure sources will last the test of time, despite periods of absence, awkwardness, or confusion. It’s OK to seek new experiences and connections. It’s OK to say yes to platonic love. It’s OK to breathe and be you. It’s OK to breathe and be me.

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