The E! Channel just started re-running Sex and the City, one of my all-time favorite television series. When SATC came out, I was living in New York and working as an account executive at a big PR agency. The story of four working women pursuing successful careers, romance and the ultimate pair of shoes, resonated deeply with me at the time. What I especially loved was the deep friendship among Miranda, Carrie, Samantha and Charlotte. Those friendships mirrored my own experience of having a group of girlfriends with whom I spent many a night drinking cocktails, celebrating career promotions and challenges, shopping and sharing relationship advice. Last night I re-watched a particularly poignant episode that got me thinking again about friendships and how they evolve as our lives evolve. In that episode, the four friends are invited to the baby shower of a former party-girl friend, known for her wild antics, turned Connecticut housewife. They grudgingly go to the baby shower which is filled with, to their dismay, highly-educated, formerly high-powered career women who traded in their Manolos and Coach brief cases for strollers and play dates. At a post-shower debrief at a local bar the four friends wonder if giving up one’s identity and lifestyle comes with having children. Later the former party girl-turned housewife calls Carrie to express how much she misses “the old days” and how much she wants to reconnect with Carrie and the girls. Carrie makes a half-hearted promise to “definitely” call her. Ouch.
That episode got me thinking about how my own life has changed so dramatically over the last few years: I got married, quit my agency PR job in Chicago, moved to the South, started a new career and had baby. Just a few weeks ago Dr. D. and I celebrated our five year wedding anniversary. Life is great… and it’s different. I think back. After I got married my friendships took a turn I didn’t expect. The girl (and guy) friends that I was so close to seemed to fade away. It was a subtle transition that caught me off guard. As a single-career woman, I somehow thought that my friendships were immutable. That the friends I had would always play a central role in my life and I in theirs. I believed that major life events like marriage and babies couldn’t fundamentally change a friendship. For a period of time I was very saddened by this change as I’ve always relied upon the support of my friendships. As I reflect on that period of my life, I think I felt abandoned because I was going through so much personally and missed the closeness of those earlier days.
Years later here’s what I’ve come to accept: life circumstances often dictate the kind of friends you have at any given time in your life. Some friendships are a result of proximity and others are a result of sharing similar life circumstances. Today at 41 I have a much more grown up attitude towards friendship. As I evolve, my friendships evolve. I’ve learned that the friends you need as a single, career-driven professional are often quite different than the friends you need as married couple with children or a working mother. It’s not just question of lifestyle and time (or lack thereof) but of priorities and common interests.
I’ve also learned that you need all kinds of friends; the friend who pumps you up and convinces you to try that entrepreneurial venture you’ve been talking about for years; the friend who gives you advice about negotiating for that new piece of real estate and the friend who gives you motherhood advice when your toddler has thrown yet another remote control into the toilet. Some of those friends will be there for life, while others will be there for just a short time. It’s not good or bad it just is.
Here’s what I know for sure. I feel blessed to have the friends who are in my life today and I cherish those friendships that are still there but perhaps are more distant. What about you? How have your friendships changed over the years?