Friendships after 40 – Less can be more


It was late Saturday afternoon. I had just finished cleaning up the pantry (did I mention that I like organizing?). The phone rang. It sounded like Meredith. Meredith?!? I hadn’t spoken with her since she gave birth to her fifth child (and long-awaited only boy), almost two years ago.

Meredith and I were roommates in college. We came from very different backgrounds, yet were assigned to the same room. Someone in the Admissions office thought that we would be a match made in heaven just because we came from neighboring states. And they were right! (Although it was for other reasons.)

We became inseparable during our freshman and sophomore years. Then, sadly, she had to leave for financial reasons. Still, our bond was strong and we managed to stay in touch.

First, via hand-written letters (all of which I have kept), then via countless emails and, more recently, by cutting through the clutter of our newsfeeds to comment on each other’s posts. Speaking on the phone has become a rare luxury, given our busy lives and time zone difference.

More importantly, no matter the years, and despite the infrequent calls, we have consistently been there for each other; through several job and boyfriend changes, moves abroad and back, our four weddings - her two divorces, our 6 childbirths, 40th birthdays and the passing of our dads.

She was in town for the day. We spent the evening together and, like always, it was wonderful. We laughed, ate Sushi, watched Thelma and Louise (for the 50th time!), compared our gray hairs (I have more, so she let me choose her next hair color!), almost cried, shared beauty and fashion tips, had a few too many glasses of wine, finally cried and hugged. Just like the 27 years since we first met, our 6 hours together flew by. As always, it was hard to say goodbye, but I felt so re-energized after our meeting that there was no time to be wasted feeling sad.

I spent Sunday gardening and reflecting. Reflecting on how amazing it was that our friendship was so close after many years. I also realized how much my take on friendships has changed as I have gotten older: my group of friends has become much smaller (which doesn’t mean I get to see them more often), we have closer bonds (so it doesn’t matter if we don’t see each other that often) and that I now value them much more than I did in my 20s and 30s.

I really like the quote by author Louise Bernikow: “Female friendships that work are relationships in which women help each other belong to themselves.” I am thankful that at 45, when I know and like myself more than ever, I have a circle of close girlfriends that are inspiring, fierce and yet loving women that, above all, truly help me belong to myself.

How have your friendships changed over time?