friends-1013856_640If you’ve been writing Christmas cards or sending e-cards, emails, texts or other Christmas and New Year messages recently you may well have been thinking about friends – who you’ve been in touch with this year, and who you haven’t.

What does ‘friendship’ mean to you? Does it mean the same to your friends?

I was listening to an episode of Late Night Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 recently  in which they were talking about different attitudes towards friendship.

Are your friends a source of support? Or people you support? People you have fun with? Some who inspire you? Others who drag you down? Or some, or all, of these?

Do you have different people in your life for different things? Who reflect different parts of you or different chapters in your life?

Most of us have a variety of relationships with different degrees of closeness – a bit like a series of concentric circles.

district-63773_640At the centre we have our ‘Inner Circle’ – our closest friends and perhaps some family members to whom we would tell anything – and then a number of outer circles with gradually decreasing levels of intimacy.

It would be unrealistic, unmanageable and inappropriate to have the same degree of intimacy with everyone in our lives. Brené Brown talks about having a handful of people on whom we can really rely, with whom we can be truly vulnerable, whose opinion matters to us most.

We talk about ‘Best Friends Forever’ but how many actually last the course?

Some adults have friends that date back to childhood and others that came along more recently. Most of us have a mix – and we will have lost some along the way, too.

Lives can be busy, we can get lazy, and we can lose touch.

Sometimes we hang on to friendships well past their ‘sell by date’ – the relationship starts to become too much like hard work or it starts to feel a bit one-sided, out of date or unhealthy.

Maybe we drifted apart, moved away, developed new or different interests. Or perhaps we just don’t know how to relate to each other any more.

Sometimes we make an effort to address this and are rewarded with a relationship that will stand the test of time.

Other times there is nothing that can be done and occasionally we need to let some friendships go in order to make space for new people to come into our lives.

There’s a poem that does the rounds occasionally, which can be found in lots of places, and which I really like. No-one seems to know who wrote it. I think it sums things up pretty well and I dedicate it here to all my friends and family – past, present and future:

Reason Season Lifetime

People always come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.
When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.

When someone is in your life for a REASON,
It is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty,
Or to provide you with guidance and support,
To aid you physically, emotionally, or even spiritually.

They may seem like a godsend to you, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
This person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.

Sometimes they die. Sometimes they just walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.

“When people come into your life for a SEASON,
It is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.
They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.

They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.
And like Spring turns to Summer and Summer to Fall,
The season eventually ends.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
Those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person anyway;
And put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas in your life.

It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.
Thank you for being part of my life,
Whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime.”

Author – Unknown