The subject of friendship has been on my mind this weekend.  My youngest daughter is approaching the teen years (in a few months!) and is reaching that age where friends fight, come and go, hurt your feelings, don’t include you, gossip about you….well, you know how it goes, either because you are a female reader or a male who has females in his life. 

My friends are important to me.  I have no great words of wisdom for my child, other than people grow apart.  It happens in all relationships.  Most friendships can predate and outlast romantic attachments, especially in her teen and young adult years.  I have some friends I have had longer than BOTH marriages combined. 

This is what I try to explain to both daughters:

Friendship begins because you have something in common.  It could be an activity in school, a class, another friend…the list is endless.  So, what happens when that ends?  Some friendships can endure this separation, some cannot.  Some friendships actually cannot handle too much togetherness.

Some friends you will talk to every day.  Some friends – sometimes the BEST friends – are the ones you talk to periodically, but when you do talk, it can seem more meaningful, because you both took the time out of your busy lives to make that connection. 

Friendship can take a hit when friends start dating others, because there’s simply not enough time for a budding romantic relationship AND a friendship.  This is hurtful, there is no denying that, because often when the relationship hits a rock, the friend wants solace from the one they have been shunning.  But to be a good friend yourself, you look past that and you offer the solace they need.  Some day it might be you.

You’re going to trust people and confide in those people, only to have that trust broken and your confidences shared.  You have to be the judge of character for those people.  Get to know someone before you reveal your life’s secrets. 

A true friend is not going to get truly mad at you if you have a bad day and snap at them.  No, a true friend is going to realize it’s not like you to be like that, and ask “What’s wrong?”  Don’t act like that all the time, or you will find yourself friendless.  And, remember when they snap, to take the time to ask what is wrong.  Good friendship is based on empathy.

You’re going to have acquaintances, friends, good friends, and best friends.  Treat them all with respect and kindness, and never play one friend against the other.  Do not gossip about your friends to mutual friends – because remember, if they are talking about your mutual friend with you (like you are), then what are they saying about you behind your back.  If a friend did something bad or underhanded to you, talk it over with someone other than a mutual friend.  It could be a case of your friend having a bad day and you don’t want to start rumors or malign their reputation.  You can always talk to mom.

I wish I could tell my girls that friendship gets easier as they get older.  It does not.  I believe it gets harder.  As we grow up, we begin differing from our friends, in small ways.  We might marry someone they do not like.  New friends are made at jobs and through our children.  Things change.  That is one of the few guarantees in life.  I still trust the wrong people, lose friends, make new friends, and try to stay in touch. 

Just be a good person. Your friends might not always be “good” but you are going to have bad days too.  It’s part of human nature.  We all screw it up sometimes.  Just don’t hold a grudge against those who do screw it up.