Years ago I sat in a dark theater watching Mean Girls with my best friends. I watched Cady battle with frenemy Regina and wondered if all friendships involved ups and downs, hate and admiration. It seemed as if friendships never ended.
It wasn’t until much later that I learned some friendships can and do end.
Why do we hang onto old friends? In my case, I ended a friendship with someone I was friends with since elementary school. Though she stuck with me through high school, in college we grew apart and later down the line she failed my friend litmus test: Stick with me no matter what, in good times and bad.
Letting go of a childhood friend was not easy. And as long as we’re talking about elementary school, I will bring up “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)“:
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and
lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you
knew when you were young.
I’ve known some of my best friends so long that they might as well be sisters, which is why it was so hard to walk away from a friendship that spanned space and time. The day I realized our friendship was over was when my husband and I sat down to make our guest list for our small backyard wedding. I couldn’t put her on the list because I knew she hadn’t always supported me.
Maybe that’s a high and even unrealistic friendship standard, but links to the past should be strong ones built on trust and fondness, not on appearances. True friendships at their core are relationships between two people who should be able to share anything without judgment.
What I learned from this experience is that I have to know where to draw my lines and set standards. Is it unrealistic to expect loyalty in good times and bad? Maybe, but that’s why I have only a small group of friends who have known me, in some cases, since I was five years old.
Breaking up with anyone, whether it be a friend or partner, is rarely easy. But at the end of the day, the most important people in my life should be there for me in thick and thin.
Either that or I’m just too Italian. That can be another explanation to explore on another day.