top of page

Silver and Gold:  The Evolution of Friendships

By:  Maura L. Johnson, LCSW, PMH-C

Maura with her AST sisters from Clarion University at a resent get-together

     “Make new friends

      But keep the old,

      One is silver and the other’s gold”

     If you’ve ever been a Girl Scout or involved in the organization, you’ve very likely heard (or sung) this verse many times. The moment we formed the circle at the end of each meeting, we would sing this song, along with a hand squeeze/foot in the middle ritual to signify the bonds of friendship. As my daughter’s current troop co-leader, the tradition remains, and those lyrics hold even more meaning to me today. 

     In our childhood and teen/young adult years, access to our friends and time to spend with them can seem infinite. Though we may be busy with school, sports, etc., we often take for granted that we will continue seeing them almost daily. As that first separation occurs for many with the completion of high school and transition to adulthood, we may worry that maintaining those bonds will prove difficult. Perhaps one of the first adult lessons we face is accepting the evolution of these relationships throughout the different seasons of life. Our childhood friendships have their own very special quality, often being the people who really know us, our families and our stories. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to still have close relationships with many of my childhood friends, people I can talk and laugh with for hours on end. 

     The question of how to maintain and nurture our friendships becomes more relevant as our lives progress. Moves, marriages, health issues, loss and having children may draw people closer or create division. It can be incredibly jarring to experience feelings of disconnect from a person or persons with whom we once considered our closest confidants. Normalizing this experience is important, as it’s natural to be drawn to others who share similar experiences, values, and preferences.  When clients express concern over a struggling relationship, I often bring it back to reinforcing their respective seasons of life. Focusing on their history of shared experience, memories and what they bring to each other’s lives can aid in meaningful reflection regarding the relationship’s future. 

     Unfortunately, there will be times when a friendship no longer serves one or both parties and may dissolve. Grief related to friendship loss is very real and can be extremely painful. We may be left with feelings of deep hurt and confusion, whether a falling out occurred or a “ghosting.” While this may spell the end of the friendship, there is sometimes a possibility to reconnect at a better time for both of you. Please know that grieving the loss is an expected and appropriate response to experience. Surrounding yourself with support, whether it be friends, family and/or counseling can be incredibly helpful in making peace and moving forward.

     Prioritizing time with our friends can seem like a daunting task, especially in the thick of parenting and kids’ activities. We may feel as though adding one more thing to an already packed to-do list is impossible, and that’s completely valid. However, setting small goals around making time for ourselves and connecting with friends can do wonders for our mental and emotional well-being. Sending a simple text, planning lunch or dinner together or just creating time and space to be present with one another can leave us feeling recharged. Try to discourage yourself from making excuses (“I haven’t reached out in so long”, “They’re probably too busy anyways”) and consider the potential benefits. As we get older and our kids become less reliant on us, nurturing our outside relationships can help minimize the more difficult life transitions. As they say, find your village and love them hard.




bottom of page