A lot of us want direct beginnings and endings in friendship.
But the reality is, most of us are just riding a wave. We control our friendships less than we think we do, and life’s major transitions inevitably affect our relationships – sometimes friendships change.
It’s important to remember these relationships – and how they existed during a period in our lives – will always be dear to us. Personally, I wish I could go back to when my friends lived 10 minutes away. But life changes, and dwelling on it doesn’t help me figure out the NOW.
This episode is Part 2 of my conversation with today’s guest, Kristian, who reached out to Friendship IRL after finding us on Apple Podcasts. Kristian is in her 20s, and today, we talk more about the relationship changes that happen during this age.
There is no exact answer on how to be a good friend as an adult. Your mid-20s represent a big transitional moment. But hopefully, today’s discussion helps reframe how to approach these friendships – and takes some pressure off of them, too.
In this episode, you’ll hear about the following:
- Musings about why romantic relationships might affect more female friendships than male friendships
- Getting together for “the deep stuff” vs. just getting together and doing things less emotionally intense – and why both are nice things to have in friendships
- How, with every new life stage, there are new people you’re putting more energy into and people you’re pivoting away from – which, of course, when those friendship change, it can hurt sometimes
- Drifting apart gradually vs. a big “friendship break-up,” and what to ask yourself when determining whether to put more energy into a friendship
- Friends who primarily prioritize their partners, and why talking about and prioritizing friendships is counter-cultural in so many circles
- How to use the business term MVP in looking at friendships
Can you think of a time in which it was particularly painful to see a friendship drift apart? What was it about this friendship “break-up” that hurt? Was it the friendship itself? The nostalgia associated with it? A sign that this period of life was over?
Notable Quotes from Kristian:
“Being an adult, there’s so much helpless language that is out there. ‘Oh, my God, I can’t wait till this happens.’ ‘Can’t wait till that happens.’ And I’m not gonna lie. I am guilty. I’m sure we all are. Probably today, I’ve had helpless thoughts. But I feel like I’ve found myself being less and less helpless. More like, tapping into, girl, what do you want? Like, let’s figure it out. That type of thing.”
“You can’t go back to high school. It’s not gonna happen. We just keep aging and everything. But breaking it down – what about high school? Was it the freedom? Can we hang out and create a sense of freedom? I kind of like that because it makes it feel like less pressure. Like, oh, we just grew apart. Maybe we can find a way to grow closer again with where we are now, and we don’t have to be the same people that we were then.”
Resources & Links
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@itsalexalexander #stitch with @msrachelforlittles Trying to figure out how to make friends as an adult? #friendshipcoach #friendshipadvice #makefriends #howtomakefriends #makenewfriends #adultfriendship #howtokeepfriends ♬ original sound – Alex | Community + Friendship
@itsalexalexander Want to make low maintenance friends? Focus on the variety of ways you spend time with your friends. The friendships that you cherish the most? Usually the "we did life together” friends. Doing mundane things together will help you not only develop low maintenance friends, but also strong friendships. #toomanyfriends #friendshipcoach #friendship #clingyfriends ##makingfriendsasadults #adultfriendship #healthyfriendships #howtokeepfriends ♬ original sound – Alex | Community + Friendship
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Podcast Intro 00:02
Alrighty, gang. Here’s to nights that turn into mornings and friends that turn in family. Cheers!
Podcast Intro 00:18
Hello, Hello, and welcome to the Friendship IRL podcast. I’m your host, Alex Alexander. My friends… They would tell you; I like to ask the hard questions. You know who I am in the group? I’m the person that’s saying, “Okay, I’m going to ask this question, but don’t feel like you have to answer it.” And now, I can be that friend for you, too.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 00:50
Today’s episode is part two of my conversation with Kristian, and if you haven’t, go back, listen to part one. Part one really taps into all these underlying feelings we have about friendship, like the shame, the grief, the social anxiety, figuring out how to do this, how to have friends. We are not taught this skill set. That is part one. What you’re about to listen to today, it really talks about now that we’re understanding these feelings and now that we’re moving through the world, like what do we do with them? How do we interact with people? Sure, we might be grieving when friendships change, but when that creates, like drama, what do we do about that? There’s a bunch of examples, real… real life examples in the second part. Now, I want to tell you that this episode opens up because we cut into the middle of our recording. We are both heated. We’re all heated in the beginning, talking about how our society prioritizes romantic relationships over everything. If you have listened to… gosh, what episode is that? I think it’s episode two with me and my husband, Michael. You might have already heard my take on this, but I just want to tell you that that is not the entire episode. In fact, very quickly, these thoughts turn into her asking me when you have such differing opinions with friends, when you start to, I guess, buy into these things I’m talking about on the podcast and change your life. What happens when your friends don’t believe the same things? That’s the kind of real-life conversation we’re having in this episode. So, give it a listen. But just know that although you’re coming in when we are feisty, we quickly transition into some like very real life how do we do this kind of questions and moments and answers. With that, hope you enjoy.
It just so silly.
Alex Alexander 03:01
It is silly.
The part where like romantic relationships go through the flux.
Alex Alexander 03:05
Like, I’m passionate about this topic. Okay, where do I start? My biggest pet peeve when it comes to friendships, is a friend who only prioritizes her man. Because I mostly have girlfriends. So annoying to me, so freaking annoying to me, girl get a grip. That’s how I personally feel, you know, others might feel differently. But the reason that annoys me is because there’s like a super large prioritization of relations, relationships with men, as a woman… relationships with women like friendship, or like having guy friends, you know, whatever your preference is. And I just don’t get it, I don’t get it, because having women friends is such a nurturing experience when it’s a right fit, the right fit I mean. And obviously, like your partner should be a nurturing experience as well. But your partner just can’t fill every single thing that you’re looking for. It’s just impossible. It’s not realistic. And so I just don’t understand why it has to be like all or nothing it feels at times. Why can it just be both? I don’t even remember what we were talking about right before that. Because I just saw red and just like, went there. So, I’m just so sorry but…
Alex Alexander 04:22
No, no, that happens to me regularly on this podcast. You listen to it. I mean, I agree with you, and I think that it’s an important piece of this puzzle in this conversation about like, what is a friend as an adult? Like my other big piece about all this friendship stuff, is that I think a lot of people just tell us how to make it work in the current system. And I think the system’s broken. So for example, and that applies to dozens of systems. But if we’re talking about this one, like this hierarchy of relationships, where romantic relationships society tells us of what we should have, and that everything else falls below that. And so a lot of advice you see out there is like how to balance putting your partner first, with your friends, how to balance when your friends are jealous of your partner, and I’m in here being like, similar to you. Is that even what we want?
Yeah, that’s weird.
Alex Alexander 05:19
Like, why do we keep shoving advice to keep the status quo when I think the status quo sucks?
It literally sucks. I hate it so much. And then when I’ve talked to people about it, like around my age, a lot of people don’t agree with me for, like the conversations that I’ve had. And it makes me feel like, I’m too much. I’ve been told by friends, like, “You’re too much”, or “We just have different levels of energy”, or “We just have different expectations.” And I think it’s BS, because like if you get a boyfriend, or if you start to be in a romantic relationship, and just start being a bad friend, that says more about you, in my opinion, and what you have going on, and maybe it’s hard for you to balance, having multiple categories in life take off at the same time than it does about me. And then you’re trying to make it seem like I’m doing too much. Yeah, no. I don’t agree and I’m not accepting that. So, try it again.
PODCAST EPISODE! Let’s talk about how friendships are just as important as romantic relationships (and how to balance both). Listen now!
Alex Alexander 06:15
I don’t agree either. And I also don’t accept that. Yeah, it’s an uphill battle. What you and I are talking about is very counterculture. And it’s hard, right? Because… so to put this, quite frankly, I never thought when I wanted to talk about community and friendship, I would spend so much freaking time talking about romantic relationships. But it comes up all the time, because that’s one of people’s first objections. It’s like, well, when you find your romantic partner, it’s just not that important anymore. I’m like, I think that is completely false.
Alex Alexander 06:46
Who told you that?
And also, let me just say this, obviously, like I’m doing a lot of generalization. So please, generally, from my experience, I have found that men do not do that. Men keep their friends even if they have a romantic partner. And I just don’t understand the difference between why it seems a lot of women who I’ve watched get into romantic relationship, just lose all their connection with their friends, and then they just expect to just jump back into a deep, close intimacy with their friendships when the romantic relationship doesn’t work out. I don’t understand the difference there. And I’m wondering, like… I don’t know, I will have to research about that, because it’s so interesting to me.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 07:36
I can’t remember. Have we talked about my feelings on research in this podcast? Because my apologies, because we’re just gonna… we’re gonna cover one more time here. Here’s how I feel about research when it comes to community and friendship. The current way, we’re going about things, about community and friendship in our lives, the actions we’re taking, the results we have, the research is scary. The stats for loneliness for mental health issues for how disconnected younger generations are, they’re not good. I do look at them. And then, instead of throwing them around, I just feel like it’s a scare tactic. Because the reality is that most people don’t feel good. Most people feel ashamed or lonely or depressed, or disconnected or like they don’t belong, or they’re not good enough. People feel it, we all feel it. So I just don’t think I need to throw a bunch of numbers at you all the time to make it seem even worse than it is. The other thing about research is we are researching the current reality. It’s not good. So instead of putting all my energy into reiterating the current reality, I’d rather focus my energy on brainstorming all the possibilities of what could be instead. How do we create a better version? What might that even look like? And how do we get there? Which is why I say I’m not an expert because I have no idea if anything I put out there is gonna work. I have no idea. I can’t predict how this is gonna go. But I do hope that by talking about it, and discussing like actionable steps and people’s current realities and small ways, we might make change that someday, somebody can research our cumulative effort, and the numbers won’t look as abysmal. So, it’s not that I never look at the research. It’s just that, to me, throwing it around feels scary, because honestly, a lot of it is unfortunately.
Alex Alexander 09:55
I mean, I’m trying to decide if I can actually do this justice and you know, without an hour or two hours of time, I don’t have all the answers. And I do read a decent amount of research about this stuff. But I actually take most of what I say in this podcast comes from just listening to other people and paying attention to life. Because part of me struggles with research. Again, we’re just talking about what’s happening. And I want to focus more on where we’re going, like, how are we doing this differently? What I think, is that a lot of people give men crap about their friendships, you know, like, “Oh, they’re shallow, you just sit around and watch sports or play video games or talk about that band you like, like, you don’t really, actually have much emotional connection.” But then what happens is they get into romantic partnerships. And like, when they go do those things, those things aren’t necessarily like in competition if we’re trying to like… relationship. They’re not in competition with what they are doing with their romantic partners, because their romantic partner maybe doesn’t even want to play video games or talk about the sport. So they’re like, “Yeah, okay, all right.” But the more life responsibilities happen, then men’s friendships are getting shut down of like, well, that’s not that important, you don’t need to do that. You don’t really need to go watch sports. So then they aren’t even getting that piece of connection. So then they’re never spending enough time together to maybe potentially actually talk about real life, emotions and things. Women, on the other hand, are over here sharing all their emotions. I almost think that female friendships have a little too much focus on emotional intimacy sometimes, and there’s not as much on doing parts of life together. You want to like, sit around and share all your deepest thoughts. And there’s nothing super wrong with that, minus the fact that over time, the only reason you’re getting together is like the deep stuff. And sometimes it’s nice to just get together and do something pretty simple, pretty silly, less emotionally intense, kind of like turn your brain off, hang out, do puzzles, or something, or go explore new museum, whatever it is. So then it’s hard, because you know, every time you’re gonna be together, it’s kind of this intense emotional experience. But when you get into that romantic relationship, women are then looking at their romantic partner to fulfill all that. So then what do they really need these other people, their friends for?
That make sense.
Alex Alexander 12:36
And they didn’t do activities, really. So it’s not like wanting to go to museums together, or go to soccer, or play video games, whatever they are, is really the draw. That is my take on it. And then society says, right, like, gossip is bad. Don’t talk about anyone, don’t tell anybody your business about your romantic relationships. So that’s another piece of it is then women get together. And they either dump everything about their romantic relationships, like they talk bad, talk shit, or they don’t want to share anything because society tells them it’s bad. But that’s like, kind of what they’ve pigeon holed their entire life into this relationship. They don’t really have anything left. So what are you talking about?
Yeah, when you put it like that, it’s very clear. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Actually, I think in my life, at the moment, I kind of look for the balance. Like, I don’t have the stamina to talk about emotions all the time. I just don’t. Yeah, I’m sorry. But I also just, like, don’t only want to just do activities, because then it feels like shallowness.
Alex Alexander 13:49
Yeah, you need a balance.
PODCAST EPISODE! Listen to “Simple Ways for Improving Social Wellness” here.
I need a little mix and match. Yeah, like sometimes we can talk deep, sometimes we just kiki. And that’s just what it is. And so, yeah, I’m glad that you actually did tell me your take on that, especially with something that stood out to me was when you said at times, once the realness of life kicks in men, spending time with their friends kind of becomes secondary. I’m gonna keep that in mind. Because I would hate for my partner to feel like they can’t go out and experience life without me.
Alex Alexander 14:22
I mean, this is all again, everything you say in this podcast is a generalization. There’s going to be exceptions to the rule, but I think about it a lot. Because society already tells guys right like to shut down their emotions. So when they do hang out, they’re not normally walking in. Like, let me tell you about how I felt this week. Like, if they are going to get to that part, it’s going to take them some time. They’re gonna sit around, they’re gonna do some stuff. Something’s gonna come up about their week and work and they’re going to be like, “Yeah, I’m really stressed about it.” Like, if their friend is gonna say, “Oh, what are you stressed about?” If we even make it there, it’s going to take some time. So instead, what we say is like, you’re just going there to watch football. Who cares, it’s not as important as the other stuff, we’re shutting it off, they never would get the hour together where they maybe would actually start talking about how they feel. And then what happens in these romantic relationships because guys aren’t… don’t have anybody else to talk to about real life things, the only person they share their emotions with are their romantic partners, and then all the processing or the support or the whatever, that probably should be spread amongst a few people is on one person.
Yeah, that’s not healthy.
Alex Alexander 15:46
That’s not healthy?
It’s not healthy at all. So that’s why I never understood when going back to like my original statement, that’s why I don’t understand it, like when people only prioritize their romantic partner, because it doesn’t feel like the healthy choice. It feels very limiting.
Alex Alexander 16:03
You know, and talking about this episode, and like how to be a friend as an adult, what we are talking about, like having more people than just a romantic partner, that is not the general message. Society tells us about how to be a friend as an adult. So at like the most basic level, we have to reframe how we’re acting in these relationships. And I think that’s a very real thing that happens in that like late 20s, early 30s piece where people start coupling up and getting engaged and getting married, and friendships are shifting, and life is shifting, but then all of this is happening. And people are like shutting themselves off from their old friendships. So, as we’re all becoming new versions of ourselves pretty quickly, all of a sudden, you added this into the mix, which only adds to the like, am I a bad friend? That my friend found a new boyfriend and now they’re not talking to me, is that my fault? Because at the same moment, you might have gotten a new job. And like, maybe it’s a little combination of both, but you’re just left there. Like, I have no way to describe what just happened to me. Is it my fault?
Alex Alexander 17:25
Even if with multiple people, like back to back, release. That’s what happened to me like recently, or what I’ve been experiencing recently. It has made me feel more inward again. Like, okay, yeah, I’m not really trying and put myself out there if it’s just gonna leave. So I want to ask a question, want to make a comment and then ask a question. My question is, how does one like cope with that, in your opinion? Because I don’t know. My comment is, in recent times, I’ve heard a lot of friends say like, “I don’t know why she’s so mad about that. I have life to live, I have a job and a man to worry about and, and this going on, and that going on.” And I just… you’re right, it is very opposite to culture. I just don’t agree. And so I find myself like, sitting there shaking my head. Because I feel like there’s no point in saying my opinion, if it’s so counterculture, because they’re just gonna, like, be defensive or like, try to further explain why they are being a shit friend, because of all the reasons that they just said. And I just don’t feel like there’s a point. But I’m like, if anyone’s out there who thinks like us, please hit me up.
Alex Alexander 18:40
Well, good news. We’re building like literally a community online about this, going on in the early stages. We have a way.
Yeah, I just I don’t know how to… I guess this is another question. In your opinion, do you think I should share what I think or just let bygones be bygones? Because they’re gonna think how they think anyway?
Alex Alexander 18:59
Hmm… well, I think this goes back to the individuality, right? You’re building different friendships than you thought you would maybe build and the society tells us to build. I actually was talking to a friend this morning, and she was joking. She’s like, “Sometimes I feel like when I talk to people about the stuff you say”, like I say. She’s like, “I feel like I’m a disciple. I feel like I’m up there on my soapbox, like preaching a new gospel way to live. And people just stand there and kind of stare at me like I’m a weirdo, but I can tell that they want things that I’m saying, but they just aren’t sure if they’re willing to take the actions to do it, and they’ve never thought about it this way.” And it made me laugh because like, I am sure that’s what it’s like. That’s what it’s like for me. So to answer your question, with the individuality, like this is the kind of friendship you want to build. I don’t think you need to be up in people’s face about it, but this is probably a pretty early indicator of how close you’re really going to get to someone, because if they don’t share some of the same beliefs, that’s going to impede. And you just got to keep that in the front of your mind. With that being said, I don’t know if it needs to be a clear cut thing, what I have found is slowly over time, I kind of start dropping things or making small statements. I don’t need to like put a stake in the ground. And a lot of my friends have changed their thinking over time, in small ways, like, truly, that’s the reason I thought I could make this platform and do this podcast, because I was just saying this stuff to my friends, because it’s what I believe. And then I actually saw them start to change their actions. Can you give me an example of something that happened? So a friend of mine, who’s actually on this podcast, Sarah, episode four, she comes from like a real strong family situation where like a Southern family, they all depend on each other for everything. And listening to me kind of talk about this idea of finding different people for different roles in your life, you know, like somebody maybe is the person you call, when you had a bad day at work. Somebody is the person you call, when you want to go have fun, and be silly and pretend your child. Somebody is the friend you call when you’re grieving. And they’ll just sit with you in your grossest sweatpants, and they’ll just be there. So you kind of start thinking about, like, who these people are. And she told me that. And I just told her this, because this is what I believe. I wasn’t trying to convince her. And after a little while, she said, “You know, that’s really interesting, because it actually relieves pressure on my family. It makes me realize that there are so many beautiful things about my family, but they don’t need to be my end all be all. And I can really lean into them for all the things I love. But the things that aren’t their strengths, I can find other people to supplement that and go to those people.” And I had just kind of casually told her this, not expecting this to hit in such a profound way. And then she’s telling me this, and suddenly I’m like, oh, okay. All right. Another very quick example, another friend of mine, they moved to a new neighborhood. He was walking around the neighborhood, a neighbor of his said hi. And my friend, like, you know, I could kind of tell he really wanted to, like make some new friends in the neighborhood. They kind of hung out, they get along, but they don’t have a ton of shared interests. He was like, “I don’t know if this guy is gonna be like my new neighborhood best friend, but he’s a really nice guy.” And he said that, “I thought about it. And I realized, maybe I can be like his friend wing man. I’m a really extroverted person, maybe the point of meeting this guy isn’t necessarily that I’m going to become his new best friend. But maybe the point is like, I can help introduce him to some other people I know who share those interests. And maybe I will help him make his new best friend.” I’m just sitting there like, aww.
That’s so sweet.
PODCAST EPISODE! How to Make Friends as a Grown-Up. Give it a listen!
Alex Alexander 23:21
I had no idea. So I think that this stuff is counterculture. It’s different. Like however much you choose to lean in to it in your life, people, I think you’re gonna start to see that, right? When you do have strong relationships, they’re gonna kind of start paying attention. Like, what are you doing that’s different, then you might make a comment, and they might kind of see if that fits in their toolkit. And I think you’ll find over time that people kind of shift. Now if somebody is just like, super abrasive about it, absolutely not, then maybe. Like I said earlier, this is like a place where you pivot and find what you need and add it instead.
Right, I kind of like that approach. Like, instead of trying to, like be defensive, in response to what they’re saying, just kind of share like, “Oh, you know, for me in my life, this is how I see it and just kind of dropping a nugget.” Pivoting the conversation probably.
Alex Alexander 24:22
Because think about it. What they choose to do… like you have this toolkit, now you’re developing your own toolkit. You have it. So no matter what they decide to do, if they just can’t get on board, and it’s not feeling good for you, you can refocus your energy, pivot, right? Go find the people that it is right. And as much as you might care about them or have some history with them, like you might want them to do these things. You can’t do it. But you have what you need to build the support system you desire. Now if they get on board or not, that would be lovely, but you can build your own diverse support system whether or not they choose it or not.
That makes it feel less helpless.
Alex Alexander 25:06
Like being an adult, there’s so much like hopeless language that is out there.
Alex Alexander 25:12
Yes. I couldn’t agree more.
Oh my god, like, can’t wait till this happens. Can’t wait till that happens, and I’m not gonna lie like, I am guilty, like, I’m sure we all are.
Alex Alexander 25:24
I mean, I do it too. Yeah.
Probably today, I’ve had hopeless thoughts. But I feel like I’ve found myself being less and less helpless, the more I like, tap into “Girl, what do you want? like, let’s figure it out” type of thing. And I really like the approaches that we’re talking about.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 25:43
One of the things that made me do all of this, the podcast, all this work, one of the things that made me do it was, we had a lot of friends move away in a very short period of time, maybe like five couples, very quickly. So that grief piece that I talked about was very overwhelming, it was a lot. But I had this realization. Standing there, staring out the window, drinking some coffee, watching the birds chirp. And I had this moment, I was like, if I had no one and you’ve all heard my story now, so you know that, I know what that feels like. If I had no one, I could do this again. I could build the connections that I want again. And I think that is such a powerful thing for someone. Because society really makes us believe that we just need to accept what we’re given when it comes to relationships. And if we lose those, we know we’re better off on our own. And it’s hard to meet new people and make new connections. So to be able to stand there, and feel like I have the toolkit and the skills to take my power back to build the support system I want, that is like the core feeling that I hope all of you listening, find over time. This isn’t an overnight thing. It’s one of those things where you start making some new connections and building the community you want. And over time, you will start to feel like you can do this too. But I really hope that people wake up one day and have that same sense that I did, that same feeling that we do have power and control and influence over our social connections, the people we surround ourselves with, the support that we have in our lives. That is my greatest wish for us all.
I don’t know, if I know how to pivot out of friendships that don’t work in a way that’s harmonious. I think I’ve tried different techniques, if you will, and it seems to always be some sort of drama. And I’m so done with that. But I’m like, is that just life?
Alex Alexander 28:23
I mean, I think anytime we’re pivoting away, right… that if you and I choose to pivot away from friendships, we’re making a choice that impacts somebody else. They didn’t cosign this choice. They can want to talk about it, they can do whatever, but like, unless they’re gonna change their actions and you two are both gonna put in energy, they didn’t pick it. So there’s probably going to be some drama. Like this kind of goes to the question you had earlier of like, how do you actually, like, do this when it’s a lot of feelings all the time? And it is like, with every new life stage, there’s new people you’re putting energy into, and people you’re pivoting away from and like, you have to grieve that these people are gone, and you’re putting energy into a new relationship. You’re simultaneously like, nostalgic for what that relationship was, you miss it, you love it so much like that contains value. It’s not terrible, but it kind of hurts a little bit because it was nice, and it doesn’t feel that way anymore. So we’re like moving through all these feelings all the time. And if the other person isn’t willing to move through the feelings, there’s gonna be a little bit of drama, because they’re gonna want to just stay the same, and they won’t process the things. So, there’s only so much you can do about that. The other thing is, you know, there’s a lot of conversations and things out there about like, how to break up with friends, like how to have all these really direct combos. Now, I love direct conversation my friends. I’m like one of the most direct people you will ever meet. But I think the point of the direct combo all the time, is if you want to put the energy in to make like a new version of the friendship work, if you’re just telling someone to tell someone, but you plan to pivot away, unless they ask you directly, it might be okay to just kind of like, move on. So that could look like if this was a friend you saw all the time. And you did certain things with just doing those things less frequently. Maybe you went from doing something twice a week, to couple times a month. Because you’re using that energy somewhere else. Now, you could find a new thing to do together that might align with like a new version of you. But if you’re not going to do that, you know, maybe that friendship shifts into a friend you’ll only see once or twice a year. And maybe eventually, it just kind of fades away, and you don’t have to have some big breakup or direct combo, you’ve just drifted apart. There’s nothing to say, you couldn’t drift back together. 10 years from now, some part of life can overlap. You know, like, we want all these direct beginnings and ends in our friendship, where it’s kind of like riding a wave when you’d like control it a little bit less, I think.
While you’re talking to me, because I’m a direct dial myself, and I don’t want to lose people, I think the feeling of it digs into like wounds that I am still healing, and everything. So I think my emotional rollercoaster that I feel internally, is very heightened when friendships are going awry. And I’m a person who historically like… I’m like, I’m gonna save you, I’m gonna save you, we’re gonna fix it. And so I’ve found myself having many direct conversations, and they’re going nowhere, because clearly the person is not going to change, doesn’t want change, even if they say they want to. But if they’re not doing it, like there’s no point of, “Keep trying.” And so I found that I’ve had a really hard time with that. They’re communicating to you like, oh, like I feel like our relationship is… is changing, it’s pulling away. I miss us, I miss being close, like I want to work on it, like those type of things. Then if I were to say, like, you know, these are some of the things that are making me uncomfortable in the relationship and like some of the things that I would love to shift in order to like get back to a closeness, and then that person doesn’t do those things, even if they say like they want to and have made a plan to, I guess those are the situations that I find myself in. Yeah, and don’t know how to navigate. But I do agree it probably isn’t the kind is to just be like, “You suck”, if they’re like, pulling away. But I find that it’s usually not like that from…
Alex Alexander 32:53
Yeah, I think that’s definitely a great clarification, because I think that is definitely different. Listening to you say that, my question or they’re like, I miss our friendship, I miss this. I will be like, what do you miss? Like what good things? Because, right, there’s a lot of focus on, you’re doing this, and you’re doing that, change this. And not to say those things shouldn’t happen. But I don’t think there’s quite often enough conversations about the things we like. What do you miss? Do you even want to put energy into bringing that back? You may you may not. Did you enjoy that? Is that something you want to be part of your life still? Because if it’s not, then why put all the energy and tell them the bad negatives?
What do you miss is probably a good indicator of if you should even have like a direct conversation or not. Because if you can’t get what you miss back… because sometimes the things that you miss in friendships are very like, in this point in time, this is what we’re experiencing…
Alex Alexander 33:56
… because of this.
Alex Alexander 33:58
Like set of circumstances in life at this moment. Yes.
And so I feel like you just cleared up a lot for me with that. Because I’m like, yeah, I can’t really replicate that.
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Alex Alexander 34:09
No, so, you’ll always hold that part dear. Right? that’ll always be lovely, both love that time. I think this happens to people a lot where they keep these friendships and they just get together and all they do is reminisce about that time. You sit around the table and you talk about like, “Oh, back in high school, and we did this. Do you remember that?” And that’s beautiful. And that’s great. And we can love that. Since that’s not the present, or the future, how much energy is somebody really willing to put in to change all these things to just relive that? So then, you know, kind of that idea of like adding new ways you spend time together. Because no matter what, you’re both gonna love that time of life. If you already loved it, like you’re already gonna hold it dear but we can’t… like you know, life stages are changing all the time. Hmm, I wish I could go back to when all my friends lived within a 10 minute drive of me. 10-minuteI wish I could go back to living with roommates. I find those times so dear. Like other people move away, they get to make their own choices, I don’t get to pick that. So me telling them that I missed that isn’t super helpful in figuring out how we navigate the now.
Something that came up for me was like chasing the dopamine, and I feel like that’s something that, like I’ve started to prioritize just for my own life, but kind of hearing this conversation makes me think within friendships and might be a good place to also chase the dopamine together, like whatever that might look like for both, and see if there’s like a mutual way that you guys can do that. Like how you’re saying, you can’t go back to high school, it’s not going to happen. We just keep aging and everything, but breaking it down, like okay, what about high school? Was it like the freedom? Can we hang out and create, like a sense of freedom? You know, I kind of like that, because it makes it feel like less pressure. Like, oh, we just grew apart. You know, maybe we can find a way to grow closer again, with where we are now. And we don’t have to be the same people that we were then. Because I think that’s like where a lot of the messaging comes. Like on YouTube, I’ve literally spent so much time on YouTube that I’m over it in terms of like, should I get rid of this friend? Like, you know, like, there’s this like sense of urgency almost because you love your friends and you want your friends and you… you imagine them in your life forever. Because that’s just human nature. It’s normal. But yeah, I think when you kind of take that pressure away, it’s almost like… have you ever heard of the business term MVP?
Alex Alexander 36:45
Yes. And I have used this in relation to friendships. Keep going, keep going. Give your take on it.
I did this like accelerated business program back in 2020. And right now, I’m freelancer. And so, I want to open up a creative art studio in Chicago. And I’m like, dammit, I want to do it now. And I want to just have it all together. But I’m like, girl, how can I MVP?
Alex Alexander 37:09
So that maybe towards the end of 2023, I can be closer to that goal? And so now I’m just like, okay, this conversation has helped me to open my eyes that, dang, well, I can kind of MVP with my friendships, but with the people that I desire to, like, keep around. But even if there’s like this sticky point where you desire to keep them around, but you don’t know how to bring that back to the MVP, that might be a good… another toolkit that you can use, that I’ll be using to kind of navigate that. I like that.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 37:47
It is so fun for me to hear somebody use that term, right? I’ve used MVP before if you’ve listened to my episode about gatherings. I talked about it in relation to gatherings. But I’ve also thought about it in relation to friendship, right? So MVP is a business term, it stands for minimally viable product. The idea being that if you’re going to release a product, instead of spending years, developing the product, perfecting the product, you need to come up with the minimally viable product, and try and release it as soon as possible to see if people even want it. Because you’ve wasted a lot of time, if you spent years developing a product that it turns out nobody needs. So, get it to market now. Because this obviously in my brain clicks directly to friendship, but it might not yours. Let me explain. We all have these visions of these ideal friendships that we want. You’ve probably seen them in movies, read about them in books. These might be what you feel like you’re seeing on social media, whether that’s the reality or not. But it took time. Well, books and TV and movies, they didn’t take time. They just broke that in a script, but because it’s not real. But real life friendships, they take time. Like to get to that ideal does not happen immediately. We don’t just necessarily click right away, or somebody gets us in all the ways. No, it’s not how this happens. You slowly go on this journey of friendship together, you build up your connection. And over time, you get to something that’s the ideal, and then you probably ride the wave because life changes happen. That ideal doesn’t really fit in your new life circumstances. So, you got to build a new version of ideal like it’s this constant ride and journey. So if we are walking into these friendships, so focused on our perfect version of friends. So for example, if you want this arts community in your life, and they get together all the time, and they go to shows together and you support each other and you talk every day, maybe you go into a studio together a couple times a week and just create together, whatever this vision is, that doesn’t just happen. What likely happens is you meet one person, and you share this vision, and they’re like, “Wow, that’d be really nice.” It’s just the two of you for a while, it’s kind of hard to make the connection work. But you really enjoy each other’s time. So you keep connecting, and somebody else joins you, and maybe, you know, you can start going to those art shows together, but the frequency isn’t great. Like it takes time to build these things. So instead of being so focused on that ideal version, what is the minimally viable art community? Is it just a couple people who get together once or twice a month? Is it some people that go to art shows with you? Is it somebody you get together with and create with? Like, start there. And see, accept, appreciate that that is progress towards that ideal. I love this. And this obviously does not answer the kind of thing we talked about with… there’s no exact answer to how to be a friend as an adult. I’ll tell you mid 20s are kind of the first big moment of transition. Leaving college is, but a lot of people join jobs where you’re like, all the same age, you still have some like places for a lot of people, not everyone, or a lot of proximity. Like we have literally covered multiple potential tools for people to put in their toolkit today and like reframes on how to approach these friendships and how to take the pressure off a little bit. And just find the MVPs and… and enjoy. And keep adding and keep trying and keep tweaking. And I do really think that’s going to help.
Yeah, for sure. I’m like, dang, girl, I’ve already been doing a lot of these. Great. Good for me. Because I’ve been really hard on myself the past couple… I would say I’ve kind of like moved past the super hard part. But maybe like two months ago, I was very hard on myself, like just like, I don’t want to meet anyone else. No more friends, I’m over it. I’m over friendships. Like I’m done. It feels like so heavy a lot of the time. And even now, like, this whole time, I’ve been feeling like I feel really uncomfortable during this conversation, not because of you, but because you’re talking about a lot of uncomfortable things. And I’m just kind of over the narrative of like baring those things, because they’re not gonna go away. Like, the feelings are there. Clearly, I’m feeling them in my body. And so my biggest thing is I love learning. And I love sharing knowledge. And I love just like… I feel like I’m very business minded, but also I see the world in a creative way, since I’m a creative. And I kind of view the world as like a movie. I’ve always just viewed my life as, like play in a way.
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Alex Alexander 43:18
So I’m just gonna do my best going into the rest of this year, trying to navigate connection as just that. I’m simply connecting with someone. I’m simply sharing a bit about myself. I’m allowing space for a bit of them. And when conflict arises, when we dig into the toolbox and see, you know, what’s going on, but how can I do it in like a way that still adds play and doesn’t add all this like, junk…
Alex Alexander 43:49
… to my toolbox, if you will. So yeah, I’m like… let me take a deep breath.
Alex Alexander 43:55
This was such an amazing combo. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for messaging, and being willing to come on.
Yeah. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to hear back.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 44:08
I knew when we were saying goodbye, that this was going to be a really good episode. Until I listened back, I didn’t realize how good it was. I hope you felt the same way. But to me, like we’re talking about the deep feelings that nobody really wants to acknowledge about our friendships. And then what the heck we do with them? And that is the kind of stuff I love so much on this podcast, and in this work is unearthing these deeper things that I think tie us all together even though it’s not something where we’re supposed to talk about maybe or we feel like ties us together. We feel like we’re alone. That’s what it is. We feel like we’re alone in having these problems and not knowing how to navigate them and that just isn’t the case. So, I hope that you feel a little less alone if you’ve ever had any of these feelings or any of these struggles with your friends. With that, I’ll chat with you next week.
Alex Alexander [45:20]
Thank you for listening to this episode of Friendship IRL. I am so honored to have these conversations with you. But don’t let the chat die here. Send me a voice message. I created a special website just to chat with you. You can find it at alexalex.chat. You can also find me on Instagram. My handle, @itsalexalexander. Or go ahead and leave a review wherever you prefer to listen to podcasts. Now if you want to take this conversation a step further, send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting. And use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out. No need for a teary Goodbye. I’ll be back with a new episode next week.