Dear Perception Anxiety,
I’m in my 20s, I’ve got a great job and I’m thinking of moving in with my boyfriend. I should be happy but I keep worrying that I’m going to lose all my friends. What’s wrong with me? Kate x
This is such a common problem! I’m guessing that you’ve known some of your friends since high school and you’ve made more great friends at college and work.
So far your life has revolved around them, texting them, partying with them, talking with them, meeting up with them…at any time…day or night. Am I right?
But something is changing and it is making you feel uneasy!
I’ve been there, right where you are now, and I can tell you that it’s all going to be okay 🙂
More than any other decade in your life, your 20s will see significant change in your friendships. And not just in the friendships themselves but also in the way you see your friendships; the reasons you have them and their importance to you.
So here is a brief run-down of some of what’s going on:
Life starts to fill up with other stuff and this makes seeing and talking to your friends every day more difficult. Now that you are in full time work and have a relationship you just can’t find the time to see them as much.
You are becoming more self-assured too and this means that you are no longer trying so hard to please your friends. You are beginning to feel happier in your own skin which means you are more likely to say no to something that you really don’t want to do. Saying no can feel negative but it’s a good thing. It will give you the space in your life for other important stuff.
I expect you are already seeing less of your friends and this is where your worry that you will lose them stems from. As your life evolves you will naturally shed some of your friends because you’ll have less in common with them compared to your days in school and college. Along with this you will also make new friendships and it just isn’t possible to see everyone.
You will start to work out who you want as a friend and who you don’t and this will be heavily influenced by how well the people who are your friends cope with seeing you less. We tend to stay friends with people who accept they aren’t the centre of your universe!
Many of your other commitments will leave you with less energy for going out. And in any case I’m guessing that partying every week is beginning to feel a bit shallow and the hangover just doesn’t feel worth it.
You probably don’t have a need to tell your friends everything anymore. May be now that you are in a serious relationship it doesn’t feel right to tell all to your friends and stuff that you do need to talk about might be discussed more easily with someone at work. And the fact that they’re purely work colleagues helps off-set any worries that what you say will get back to anyone at home.
You probably have less money to go out because of your other life commitments…rent, mortgage, holidays etc.
And I’m guessing that making arrangements to meet up now just takes too long. Everyone is busy and finding a date and time that suits you all seems like too much effort.
Some of your friends may well be in relationships with people you do not like but you realise you have to keep this to yourself. This will create distance between you.
Have some of your friends had children? Do you find that trying to meet up with them is almost impossible and even when you do the conversation is only about their experiences of motherhood? Or maybe you too would like to have children and you are finding that seeing these friends is making you even more broody so you want to avoid them for a bit.
There are so many reasons for feeling the way you do about your friendships but I want to reassure you that none of it is your fault. It is a natural part of growing older and taking on responsibilities.
You will lose some friends but you will keep others and they will become even more special. Over time you will create more friendships and these will be formed on what you have learned from this time in your life.
I really hope this helps but if you are still feeling like life will never be the same I have created a ‘Get ahead of the Rest’ sheet to help you sail through this part of your life.