so no one told you life was gonna be this way

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about friendship.

Depending on where we are in our lives, friendship takes on different meanings. When we’re 5, it’s pretty much whoever lets us play with their toys or whoever likes the same cartoon character that we do. As we grow older, the requirements for being friends with someone become a little less tangible- sometimes we just click with a person, and there’s not really an explanation. Usually there is a common ground that brings us together- a job, a mutual friend, going to the same college- but if you asked me why I am friends with the people I call my friends, I’d have to think about that.

And that’s what’s been on my mind.

I have a lot of people who I’d call Friends. I’m pretty social and (I like to think) I’m fairly easy going and likable. And of course the internet makes it really easy to keep in touch with people and thus feel like us have a lot more friends than we probably do (all you have to do on Facebook is click a button and HI! INSTANT FRIEND!) But in all honesty, as far as Best Friends or even just Close Friends, for me, those numbers are low.

Dan is my best friend. He has been since we were 17. It’s easy being his best friend, for reasons I’m not sure we could pinpoint specifically- it just is. He’s the only person on the planet who I really feel 100% comfortable with, even when I was all fat and pregnant and pushing a human out of my Lady Parts. I was totally fine with him watching that, and he was too. If that ain’t friendship, I don’t know what is. ha

But Girl Friendships are different. I have never had more than couple of Really Close Girl Friends. Because of that, I try to really make an effort to keep those friendships going, which of course gets harder as we all get older. We all have kids and husbands and jobs and people move far away and just Life In General, really. So in order for it to work, both people have to make an equal effort.

And recently I have been coming to terms with the fact that sometimes all of these things in life? These changes and distractions and Big Life Decisions? Can get in the way of a friendship continuing. They can actually force us to grow apart from one another, even when we’re trying desperately to ignore the fact. Two friends- who have been friends FOREVER- who seem on the surface to have a lot in common, might really be in two totally different places and have become two entirely different people than they once were. And it’s nobody’s fault, really… it just is.

Friendships with girls are tricky at times, because of the J word: jealousy. And the C word: competition. In my experience, girls are jealous by nature & can be a bajillion times more competitive than boys. We just are, because we suck. ha. I know I can be that way- envious of her beautiful hair, or jealous of her ability to manage 4 kids, or wishing I had her discipline to stay in such awesome physical shape, sometimes wanting to do better and have better than her. It happens to all of us. But the hard part, the sad part, is when that jealousy is between friends, and it grows and festers and eventually becomes an unspoken elephant in the room, and the Jealous Friend turns the other friend into the Feeling Guilty Friend. And then the Feeling Guilty friend becomes defensive because she feels attacked over things she can’t really control. And then… goodbye friendship.

Nobody likes walking on eggshells around a friend. You shouldn’t HAVE to walk on eggshells around a friend. Right?

At a certain point, is it even worth trying to repair the damage from years of the Jealousy-Guilt Cycle? And aside from being worth it- is it even possible to heal a friendship after all of that? It can start to make you crazy, questioning everything- why were you ever friends in the first place? And if this friendship is doomed, are you truly friends with the other people you consider your friends? Maybe YOU’RE the one with the problem. Maybe it’s ALL YOUR FAULT and you can’t even see it.

I’m not even sure where I’m going with this, I just really needed a brain dump today. In addition to everything else that’s been going on the past few weeks, this has been on my mind and I needed to get it out. And possibly ask for advice. I know I’m being very vague and non-specific.

I guess my real question is, if you have ever been the Feeling Guilty friend, what did you do? And have you ever been the Jealous Friend? How did it all turn out?


  1. ambitions mrs

    June 27, 2009 4:19 pm

    I hate to say it but I’ve had so many friends that have come and gone in my life. I still care for them, but for whatever reason we’re not close now. The only friend that has truly been my friend through it all is Janet (and you know her!) I think it’s okay to let friendships go, you can always reconnect later. If this friendship is providing something in your life, maybe its not worth it.

  2. ambitions mrs

    June 27, 2009 4:20 pm

    I meant if this friendship ISN’T providing something in your life… you get the idea!

  3. Jennifer

    June 27, 2009 4:26 pm

    I had a close friendship end a few years ago and I still wonder if I could have done something to save it. During the best years of our friendship, I divorced my first husband, got an MBA and traveled extensively for my job; she went from working full time to part-time to being a stay-at-home mom when she had her 2 daughters. Those girls meant so much to me and even when they moved 90 miles away, I never missed a birthday, halloween or other majot event.

    The irony is when I remarried and had my daughter we started to drift apart – you would think that since our lives we more similar except that I went back to work full time. She couldn’t understand why I wasn’t driving to see her as often and why I didn’t have an hour to talk on the phone in the middle of the day. I’m not sure when the final division happened, but she never commented about my pregnancy or the birth of the twins – since she is a twin I expected to at least hear something from her.

    Wow…this is a little more than a comments.

    Anyway, we missed you last night at dinner and I think that you are pretty cool! Enjoy your weekend!

  4. Becca

    June 27, 2009 7:17 pm

    A friend of mine once said that friendship goes through season. You might have a friend to get you through a situation, a friend who is there for a season in your life, and then a friend who is there for a lifetime. I’ve had many seasonal friends and am always jealous of friends who make it longer than that… actually my current best friend I’ve known for going on 5 years and we’ve been pretty close since then… that’s a record for me!

  5. Elizabeth

    June 27, 2009 9:36 pm

    Jen, I feel like I am in exactly the same spot right now and have been throwing around the idea of posting about it, but when it comes down to it, I’ve been too scared. Too scared that the people I am feeling abandoned by might read it. Too scared that writing about it would make it feel final.

    But I think your post has given me the courage I need.

  6. Melissa

    June 27, 2009 10:00 pm

    Yep. I feel ya. I’m the same way, my internet friends know more about me than most of my real life friends do! heh.

    I am the Feeling Guilty Friend when it comes to two particular Jealous Friends of mine. I was the one who had a boyfriend first, got married first, lost a lot of weight, etc. And I think it speaks volumes that I am now over 21 weeks pregnant and these two close long-time friends DO NOT YET KNOW. They are sisters, and I can’t tell one without the other… so I haven’t told either of them yet. This is because one of them has been trying to get pregnant for a year and a half, unsuccessfully, and she has been extremely jealous of my four fast conceptions (despite the two miscarriages). This has come between us and it hurts me a lot because of course I WANT her to be happy, and she probably has no idea that I pray for her every single night. But her jealousy makes everything so uncomfortable. I dread making the Big News phone call this week.

    I wish I had some advice, but I’m trying to figure this out too! I guess it’s only natural that friendships either evolve or fade over time, and new friendships develop, and it’s a constant cycle. But you are a great person and anyone would be lucky to have you in their lives to any degree.

    P.S. I sang the post title in my head, complete with clapping. Hee :)

  7. Andrea

    June 28, 2009 12:38 am

    I thought the whole jealousy and competition thing ended after high school!?!? Guess I was wrong- Sheesh. :)

    I have to be honest, I’ve been on both ends…. When I was the Feeling Guilty Friend, I tried to not be give advice (never worked,) be defensive (I’m not going to apologize for making good decisions,) and I tried not talk about the things that made the other person feel, inadequate (not sure if that’s the right word.) Our problem was always about finances. So, the Jealous Friend was always complaining to me about their troubles. Now, that the Jealous Friend is back on their feet, they are always telling me (bragging) about all the cool, new stuff they have. It’s just too much for me, so I’ve just let the friendship slide. And apparently they feel the same way b/c we haven’t talked in QUITE a while.

    When I was the Jealous Friend, I was trying so hard NOT to be the Jealous Friend…. But I was, and I knew it. Outwardly, I don’t think I burned any bridges, but I also don’t know that for sure. I was trying to get pregnant for years and everyone around me was having babies. It wasn’t one particular person, it was just the timing of everyone! (Yes, all you friends with two and three year olds, I’m talking about you….) :) It helped if I actually told people what was going on. Everyone was always so supportive, it was hard to be upset. And then I finally had a kid… Who knows when life situations will change for your Jealous Friend and make things instantly better from her end. That doesn’t mean instantly YOU will feel better and your relationship will be healed, but then it may be something that both of you can stop focusing on.

    I think, as the Feeling Guilty Friend, all you can do is be understanding and honestly try not to feel guilty for your _____ (success, nice hair, smart kid, or whatever the problem is…) Also, I don’t think there’s a whole lot you can do if the Jealous Friend doesn’t want to share (or even admit) what’s going on… But, #1 it never hurts to ask kindly (I think there’s no need to “call someone out.” Personally, I think if it’s coming to that, just let the friendship slip away. I think there’s no recovering from a harsh confrontation.) And #2 keep in mind, you may be surprised- the problem may not be exactly what you think it is….

    Now that I wrote a book, Good Luck! and *hugs*

    PS- I just want to air this out between us… I’m one of your Jealous Friends…. When you lost all that weight after Maggie, and your butt was shrinking and your boobs were GROWING! That, my friend, is totally not fair! :) *Phew* I feel better! :)

  8. kirida

    June 28, 2009 1:50 am

    I nodded my head so much while reading this. I’m neither the feeling guilty or the jealous friend, i’m the friend in mourning because other friends are no longer the same and I have to move on from the good memories and accept the way things are now. You’re right, it is a cycle and oftentimes it doesn’t have to be, we can still be adults and happy for each other in good times and supportive in less happy ones. *sigh*

  9. Priscilla

    June 28, 2009 8:47 pm

    I don’t know what to say, it seems lots of us are having friendship difficulties right now!!

    If you figure it all out, let me know! I have known you for…let’s see….18 years or so?! You have always been kind, caring, supportive and just awesome. I hope you know that you are a good person and a great friend.

    Maybe the whole seasons of friendship thing is true…it seems to make sense.

  10. Bethany

    June 28, 2009 9:45 pm

    Being a woman is difficult. We play a strange role in the world. We have to support and encourage our husbands, we have to raise and love children, we have family obligations, etc. It seems that whatever time we have left for ourselves is spent venting or resting. It is hard to squeeze in friendship time. And just my word choice of “squeeze” shows where it falls on my priority list.
    I have found that I turn to my mom and sister for my friendship needs. Most of the time this works out just fine, but I fear that my friends need me to invest in them more.
    I suppose I would encourage you to not feel guilty about whatever blessings come your way. A real friend will eventually realize that she loves you more than she wants what you have. And, I would think, knowing the great girl that you are, that when those natural feelings of jealousy and wantonness pop up, that you will be honest about your feelings, be happy for your friend, and count your blessings.

  11. Allison

    June 28, 2009 10:36 pm

    I don’t have any advice, unfortunately. I’ve never really been much of a girls girl. Growing up I was always friends with one or two girls, but mostly boys.

    The jealousy thing is tough, as is the guilty. I hope you can find a way to work it out with your friend…just talk about it–sometimes hashing everything out is all it takes.

  12. Sunshine

    June 29, 2009 9:06 am

    It’s hard to be friends with women. It’s also hard to toe-the-line and know when to speak up about things being/turning uncomfortable and when to just let it slide.

    I know you don’t want to hurt your friend, but would it even be possible to talk it out? I mean, just to get it out in the open? Sometimes that makes issues so much less of a big deal. And, unfortunately, sometimes, it makes them a bigger deal…but then (again, unfortunately) you’ll have your answer about how good of friends you two really are.

    And, at the risk of sounding cheesy – REAL friends, though, in my opinion, don’t stay jealous. There are moments, I suppose, where we can look at each other, and wish we had what they had, or whatever, but if the person is really truly a friend, you know they worked hard for it, or waited a long time for it, or absolutely deserve it, and you can be GENUINELY happy for them. And only a teensy bit jealous. :)

  13. Kelly

    June 29, 2009 1:18 pm

    I’m with Allison on this one, lost my patience for girls a long time ago. I’ve been Jealous, I’ve been Guilty, I’ve been the Outcast. Girls are just too judgmental and if I don’t meet your prissy standards without jumping through hoops, well, you just aren’t worth my time.

    On the other hand:
    You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
    -Winnie the Pooh

  14. sparkyd

    June 29, 2009 1:26 pm

    I don’t have any specific feeling guilty/jealous stories to share (although those were probably elements that just didn’t recognize at the time), but I did have to let go of what had been a very close friendship several years ago because I just didn’t have the energy to deal with it anymore. I had been soooo close to this person. We lived together, had done some travelling, talked on the phone for ages when I lived out of town etc., etc. Then some stuff happened and instead of her working it out with me she withdrew and turned to the new guy in her life and cast me aside. A couple of overtures by her (with written apologies and flowers, even) to maintain the friendship were made and there seemed to be hope, but the actual follow-through and actions instead of lip-service just weren’t there. I had to cut the cord. It’s sad. But I guess that’s just the way things go sometimes.

  15. Priscilla

    June 29, 2009 4:29 pm

    haha…I just read my comment and when I said, “you are a good person”….does that remind you of a certain 7th grade math teacher?!

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