Woe Is Me! "I Keep Losing Friends Every Year. Am I the Problem?"
This week: A college-goer wonders if she is a fickle friend.
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
"The last three years of my college life, I’ve had different friend groups each year. The first year, my friends would gossip relentlessly and so I distanced myself from them. In second year, I got really close to someone but she cut me off completely – it was very ugly. And now after months of being lonely and trying to cope with that friendship loss, I recently started hanging out with someone new. My mom recently said my "moods keep changing," referring to the different groups of friends I end up with every year. This statement triggered me – is it my fault or is this a normal process in life?"
-- How to keep friends
SA: I think it's probably a bit of both. It's perfectly normal to have ups and downs in friendship especially during the college years because you're only just discovering your personality and so are they. It's commendable that when a friendship turned toxic or ugly you were able to distance yourself from it even at the cost of being lonely for a while. That being said, since you're seeing a pattern it would be worthwhile to examine if you're being too harsh and quick to let go. This is more for the gossip friends than the one who cut you off obviously. Show this new friend some patience and give the friendship time to develop slowly. Don't rush into it and try to become close to them immediately, let it grow organically. Eventually you'll find your rhythm.
NY: Don't be too hard on yourself for the natural ebb and flow of friendships. It's a journey of self-discovery, and over time, you will probably build more enduring connections.
It's not uncommon for friendships to run their course, stop serving any purpose or just become meaningless since people grow and change. It's a normal part of life, and it doesn't necessarily reflect on you. Take what your mother said with a grain of salt, there’s no way she knows your experience fully. You know your life better than anyone else and you get to decide who to keep in your life or not. If a bond does not align with your values then it’s only fair and right to steer away a bit for your own sake, that does not make you selfish or temperamental. True honest friendships can be elusive is what I have come to experience over the time, having had several friendships fall apart over the years -- ones I really wanted to work out. So it’s okay to build a life on your own even though it might get a bit lonely at times, it’s still better than to have to put up a fake facade just for the sake of it.
But make sure you participate in social activities and do things which bring you joy, you don’t want to alienate yourself from other as well as become isolated from your own sense of self.
AS: A part of college life is figuring out the kind of person you are and the kind of people you want in your life. You were able to recognize that your first-year friends were probably not those people, and there’s nothing wrong in distancing yourself from a group you don’t feel supported by. Neither is it a problem if you’ve had new friend groups each year. It is a normal process, as you said – some will stick on, other friendships will naturally come to an end.
I think a big part of navigating friendships at this stage is also learning how to maintain the ones you want to keep. It’s not always in your control, of course, since it’s a two-way street and everyone is growing into their personalities at this point. But instead of being quick to either take or evade the blame for a fallout, you could instead introspect to see if there was any point where you could have possibly made more of an effort to develop that friendship with someone you cared about? If not, then let it go. If yes, maybe you can try working on that in your new friendships.