There are many articles written on friendship, but here’s the thing, they’re overwhelmingly nonspecific. After reading a few you probably think to yourself, I don’t want to read further. This article is not answering my questions.
In my humble opinion, the reason articles on friendship are general in nature is simple. Women have so many different questions on this hugely important topic. Writers ask themselves, “Where should I begin?” After all, women have different mindsets, personalities, attitudes, lifestyles, and problems. However, I believe there is one story with guidelines for all of us. The specific rules about friendships after the age of 50.
As we cross from one passage of life into another–and turning 50 plus is definitely a significant one–we look at ourselves in our mirror and say, “Now what?” We are suddenly empty nesters, retired, divorced or we are downsizing and moving. With all these come change and this involves meeting new women.
One thing never changes: every woman needs connections with women.
You can be an introvert or an extrovert, a closed book or a delightful communicator. You could be a gadabout town or a loner by nature. No matter where you fall I will wager a bet that you abhor feelings of loneliness. Of not being able to share opinions about anything and everything with your female counterpart. There is a need to grow through conversation and experiences. And you want to know you have a safety net of friends and acquaintances.
Did you realize that there are definite stages of friendship? Do you know that most of us have unreal expectations?
For starters, good friendships don’t just happen. They progress through the following stages: Acquaintances, Peer friends, Close friends, and finally, Best friends. You have to be intentional to have social ‘girlfriend’ success.
Through the progression of friendships, all of them start as Acquaintances. With an acquaintance, you share public, not private information. You don’t consider them your friend and it takes a few times seeing or sharing information with them to put them in the acquaintance category. They may never move past this stage.
AN ACQUAINTANCE STORY
A few weeks ago I reached out to a young woman ( Acquaintance) for advice. She worked for me and I respected her. I asked her if she knew of a boutique company that would be a good fit with HG to build my new website. She did! And, it is a perfect fit! Though she helped me out, and I value her, my relationship with her will not progress past the acquaintance stage.
A PEER FRIENDSHIP
A Peer is a woman who has the same common interests and concerns. It takes time to develop a peer relationship. This is because a peer is someone you meet numerous times to have some form of involvement. Most of these relationships go no further unless you find your values and goals mirror one another.
A PEER STORY
Thirty years ago, I met Barbara. We were on a Woman’s Board. There was an instant attraction between us. They say a woman knows in less than one minute whether or not they like you! Barbara and I spent little time together until several years later when, by chance, we both moved to California. Today she is one of my circle of best friends.
A CLOSE FRIEND
A Close Friend is part of your inner circle. You share similar goals and values. These are women who know about your life and have probably ridden your high and low waves with you. You see and talk often and look forward to sharing with one another.
A CLOSE FRIEND STORY
In the past two weeks, I had three friends who needed me. One of these women lives across the hall, another a few floors down and the other lives in a Chicago suburb.
My friend across the hall had a bad fall so I made dinner for her and her husband.
Another friend I text almost daily, so she knows I care and am interested in her well-being. She is not well.
Yet another friend’s husband broke his hip. She did not ask for my help, I offered it. I knew of a male caregiver who could help her out when her husband came home from the hospital. I called him and he is now helping my girlfriend and her husband.
As busy as I am, I enjoy lending support to my close friends. It fills my cup.
Sustaining close friendships is time-consuming and takes work. Do you maintain your close friendships, sweet reader?
THE BEST FRIEND
Trust. Trust. Trust. That is the best friend, creed. You are committed, without saying a word, to one another. This friendship requires your loyalty, honesty, and your ability to give.
THE NUMBER’S GAME
Your acquaintances are unlimited; you usually discuss facts with them and your level of trust is zero.
Your Peer friends are many. Perhaps you play cards with them or golf with them. You work side by side with them, are in a book club together, etc. Maybe you disclose your opinions with them and your level of trust is somewhat.
Your Close friends are small in number. You allow them into your personal life by discussing some weaknesses and problems. With Close Friends, the level of trust is up there.
Your Best friends are very few in number. With them, you have intimate conversations on all levels of your life and you trust them to the heights.
SHRINKING NUMBERS AS YOU GO DOWN THE LADDER
Therefore, sweet reader, you notice the numbers shrink as you go from stage to stage. Your pool of candidates gets increasingly smaller! So, do not be hard on yourself. You can be in a room with 100 acquaintances and only care to seek out a possible few you might move into the Peer friend stage!
Once you invite them in, some will disappoint you. Trust me, I know. They may not share your values, gossip (naturally!), and are untrustworthy. Or they are too busy for you and have no time for another woman in their life! This is great news because you are learning, dear reader.
Some friendships do not last forever. Unforeseen circumstances have their way of intervening as well as misunderstandings. This is part of every woman’s life so don’t be shocked. Be sad and mourn when this happens but do not be shocked.
REMEMBER THESE RULES
It is impossible to be friends with everyone.
You will reap what you sow.
You will receive back the same amount of friendliness you give out.
Friendships take time to germinate. Don’t rush them.
HOW MANY FRIENDS SHOULD YOU HAVE?
There is no formula. It depends on your type of personality. What works for one woman will not work for another.
ON A PERSONAL LEVEL
I enjoy my thousands of Acquaintances and Peer Friendships. This is because I like to learn, am curious, and enjoy conversing on many topics and on many levels. Happily, I have wonderful acquaintances around the world.
I have 7 close friends and 5 best friends in my intimate inner circle. I include my daughter, daughter-in-law, and a granddaughter in my best friend list.
Truth be told, I love and enjoy spending time with women. If I had time to cultivate, nurture, and could be a discerning ‘picker’ I would have more. I am blessed by women who have enriched my life in many ways. If any of you are reading this musing, thank you for your friendship. You are valued beyond words.