Relationships over 40 can be hard enough as it is. Making new friends can be just as awkward and challenging. Investing your time and emotions in someone new can be unnerving because frankly, you have zero time for toxic friendships in your 40s. To be fully transparent, some of us don’t even know how to make female friends in our 40s.
If you’re lucky enough to have sustained friendships from your teen or even pre-teen years, then you understand the depth of the connection those decades have created. Chances are, you’ve been through some serious stuff together. There are events in each of your lives that you know beyond the shadow of a doubt, could have been so much worse without their support, words, motivation, comfort, and simple presence.
There’s a profound joy in reliving stories from a couple of decades ago with old friends. But how often do we stop to recognize that the people they were back then played such an intricate role in who we are today? There’s so much value in retelling the tales of our shenanigans and experiences, especially with the younger generations. Each passing year adds deeper intimate knowledge and more layers to the friendship. They’ve helped to build us up, and they do it all again when we fall. Even if we’ve already fallen more than a few times. And when we look back at the most significant moments in our lives, their presence is often the one constant.
This is where we can come to unburden our souls. Tell our whole truth and nothing but the truth with no judgment. And in return, these are the friends who tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear. They’re the ones who can point out when our outfit isn’t working, our kids are out of control, or our man is acting shady. And their honesty comes without backlash or repercussions because we already know they’ve got our best interests at heart.
A history of honesty builds trust. See how that works? After years of situations and circumstances that (like any relationship) can test a friendship, it’s essential to know who’s really in our corner. Having that one person – or even a small squad of people – who has been through the tears and the successes with us; celebrated us at our highest and loved us harder at our lowest; knows the awkward versions of us throughout the years, and still stands tall at our side… not even a bouquet of Bugattis full of Benjamins could buy that kind of loyalty.
Long-term friendships create a serendipitous support system that makes it easy to stay connected. Life happens – kids, careers, relocations – but staying in touch with some friends is like breathing. It’s necessary. They’re our voice of reason. They’d be (or possibly have been) our one phone call from jail. They’re definitely on our “Favorites” list in our phones. Maybe even listed as our emergency contact! However they’re positioned and labeled, they’re always there, no matter what.
Even if we landed on different continents, chasing our dreams and exploring the world, “coming home” is sometimes just a Facetime with our long-term friends. And it’s not even about talking every day or having brunch every weekend. It’s catching up after 2 weeks of chaos and appreciating that we never skipped a beat and no one’s feelings are hurt. There are no unmanageable expectations because we’ve grown into this friendship together.
“Growing up together” doesn’t begin at birth and certainly doesn’t end on graduation day. There’s so much life to be lived and directions to explore throughout our 20s and 30s, and there’s no way for our younger selves to know just how much these long-term friendships would mean down the road. But whenever it was that you found “your people,” that’s when the legacy began.
Hold on to them.