Someone once said, we all have friends for “ a reason, a season or a lifetime.”
Once you’ve reached the age of 50, and especially if you have surpassed it, this concept makes a lot of sense. Having the right friends, at the right time, is important.
I’m proud to say I have friendships that go back to my elementary school years, my children’s elementary school years, friends from jobs, volunteer commitments and everything in between. Sure I’ve made friends from different phases of my life, most of us have, but it hasn’t been without trial, error and work on the part of all concerned.
Here is my list of the 10 friends you DO and DON’T Want after 50:
1). A friend who is a friend to your marriage, relationship or single status. You want friends who are supportive of your primary relationship, including if that is simply with yourself. You are personally free to gripe about your spouse’s irksome habits, or if you’re happily single, the troubles you’re having keeping up with the yard work. We need friends who listen to our complaints, and remind us how lucky/smart/wonderful the life we’ve chosen for ourselves is.
2). A friend who wants to spend time with you. We’re all busy, that’s a given. We want friends (and we want to be the friend) who won’t rest until they’ve had some time with you. I’m not talking about weekly or even monthly get-togethers. But if you live in the same city and it’s like pulling teeth to see a friend a few times a year, that’s a problem.
3). A friend who is not a “yes” woman. We all need at least one friend who will tell it like it is: Those pants? “Not flattering!” Your want to quit your job, and sell all of your belongings? She’ll tell you to, “Slow your roll, sister. Have another glazed donut and let’s evaluate what’s going on.“ This friend is very valuable.
4). A friend who makes you feel like the best version of yourself. I have one, who I’ve known for 25 years, and who is 20 years older than I am, who really models the “leave nothing nice unsaid” friend. Virtually every time we are together, she tells me, “I just love spending time with you.” Or, “I love the way you think.” Of course I swell with pride and want to be more fun to be around and smarter.
5). A friend who can truly relate to where you are in your life right now. This one is easy when we’re school-aged ourselves. There are natural points where there is a large assortment of women going through a lot of the same things we are. The workplace and the neighborhood are both natural places to meet friends. But as we transition to part-time work, move, and have changing family situations, this one gets tough. I am remarried, and my husband and I don’t have any children together. One of my children is still at home. I recently met another mother, with a son the same age as mine, who has the same situation. It’s been wonderful to connect with someone who literally knows what my life is like in that respect.
You DON’T want:
6). A friend who knows where your buttons are and delights in pushing them. A good friend glosses over the problems you have had, are having, and very well might have, unless you want to talk about them. The friend you don’t want, will pull you back to those bad places, embarrassing memories, and fears for the future. No thanks.
7). A friend who spends lots of time talking about the amazing qualities of her other friends. This is very different from a friend who (naturally) has other friends and speaks highly of them. This friend (see #8) spends all her time with you talking about how amazing, in shape, daring, successful and stunning all her other friends are. Before she can get to asking about you, time’s up! She’s meeting In-Shape Stunning and her neighbors for a drink! See you soon!
8). A friend who can’t compliment you. Really watch for this one. Admiration should be a two-way street in any good friendship. If you feel like there’s a huge imbalance on this front, stop complimenting and see what happens. It can be very interesting. There should not be an established “Admirer” and “Object of Admiration” in a healthy friendship.
9). A friend who can take but can’t give. This one is obvious, but can be a bit tricky to identify for a while. No, I am not suggesting you have a graph displaying who did what, and when. But if you are always the one calling to see how she’s doing, trying to schedule a get-together, bringing wine and appetizers to her house, dropping off supplies when she is sick, the list goes on. It won’t be absolutely even, but you should both feel supported and valued.
10). A friend who doesn’t really wish you well. Maybe there is an Irish proverb for this one, “May ye never know the friend who isn’t one, “ but I’m not familiar with it. Chalk it up to competiveness, not having been in good friendships before, or demonic possession, there are people who want to spend time with you who don’t even like you. This one has always confused me. I have zero interest in taking the time to be around someone I can’t stand. To what end? But I’m sure most of us have empirical evidence of this type of “friend.” I do not advocate “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
Friendships will change, disappear, and blossom. My hope for all of us is that we are able to cherish the friends we have that nourish us, and be willing to let go of the ones who don’t serve us as well.
Read more from Lucia Paul on her blog, Dysfunctional Scrapbooking