Lifelong Pals Give Special Perspective
Laura Lewis, Life Files

I am tired of talking about men, dating and failed relationships. I want to talk about the people who are always there regardless of anything — my friends.

One of my best friends is staying at my place while she looks for a new apartment in the area. Having Lori around reminds me how important my friendships are, especially as I forge my way through difficult times and too many disappointing relationships.

Lori has seen me through a variety of men. There aren’t that many, mind you, but there are enough to keep my diary full. She didn’t criticize when I dated the swimmer who couldn’t really swim, when I dated the almost rock star who wasn’t quite right, when I showed too much interest in the man who was dating someone else. But she was there to hear about each and every one and ready with encouragement when I came to my senses and moved on.

My recent breakup has been really hard, but the pain has been lessened with the help of Lori and my other close friends. It’s not that they always say the right thing, but they are there for me, willing to listen to my endless talk and take me out for a good time if needed.

I remember times when boys weren’t even a consideration, and it was just about friends. Then along came some cute boy and suddenly it seemed like I had a higher purpose, something more interesting to do than play with dolls (if you consider Barbie pushing Ken off her mansion really playing).

Now that I’m in my 20s, it becomes more of a challenge to find room for friends as my best ones seem to be pairing off and starting new lives. There just isn’t enough time between their relationships and work and family obligations and my own.

But now more than ever is when I need friends. Trying to grow up is hard, and I’m not sure how I’d get through it alone. I can rely on a boyfriend to help me through a bad work situation, but sometimes it’s much more helpful to look to someone who has known me since sixth grade, as many of my closest friends have.

Luckily, most of my pals aren’t willing to sacrifice our time together too much for men. But it can be tricky for all of us.

When I start a new relationship, I long to spend every minute with the other person, who often becomes a friend as well. I want to introduce him to my life, make new memories, get photo booth pictures done. But as I give most of my energy to new love, it is too easy to neglect those who have been there all along.

What do you value most in a friend?
Sense of humor
Something else

And that’s not the way to go, because it’s not worth it or necessary to overlook a friend, even temporarily. Yet, true friends understand because we all go through the same thing.

I understood when Lori’s relationship meant less time for me. I didn’t like it, but I understood. It can be hard to give up a friend’s time to someone else, but sometimes you have to.

With real friends, it’s not about choosing one person over another. It’s about understanding what makes each other happy and putting that above all else. And then being there when she needs you, even it seems like she didn’t need you for a long time.

I hope my friends see me as one of the good ones. I know that there isn’t always time to be the best I can be, but there is always the desire to be as involved as possible in their lives.

To this date, other than the deaths of relatives, the greatest losses in my life have involved friends. As Bette Midler says, “You got to have friends,” and I plan on holding onto mine.

So I suggest calling that friend you haven’t talked to in a long time. That’s what you’re here for, isn’t it?

Laura Lewis is an adventurous 20-something who knows how to make the most of being single. Her column appears every other Thursday.
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