Seasons of Friendship

By Amy Dickinson | May 6th, 2022

Is it time to move on from this one-sided association?

four female friends around a kitchen table consoling one unhappy friend. photo by Ian Allenden Dreamstime. Forged when kids were young, fading since: in the seasons of friendship, is it time to end this one-sided affair? See what “Ask Amy” says. 

A friendship forged when children were young seems to have outlasted its value. In the seasons of friendship, is it time to move on? See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson says in this edition of “Ask Amy.” 

Dear Amy:

“Allie” and I became friends when our children were young. We celebrated holidays, vacationed together, and shared in our joys and troubles.

Allie is ambitious, friendly, and very extroverted, while I am quiet and introverted. It’s natural that she has a larger circle of friends, most of whom I have also known for years. She’s likeable and good at her work, but very status conscious.

I have been a supportive, discreet friend. When she went through some painful years of family estrangement, mine was her surrogate family for holidays. When she needed babysitting help, I kept her kids.

For several years, we invited (and paid for) her family to join us on vacation. She was happy to join, but played on her phone and constantly texted friends at home, making plans for when she returned.

Last year, she asked my husband and son to mow her lawn when she was ill, which they were happy to do.

Amy, I have been left out of friend trips, parties, and other events (where I knew everyone attending); I listened later while she related how much fun they’d had.

I felt hurt and upset plenty of times, but I never realized how one-sided this friendship seemed until recently.

I am not a perfect friend, but I have other meaningful friendships, and I don’t think this one is worth more of my time, yet I am still wondering about it.

I think I’m ready to move on, but why am I harboring such animosity?

– A Friend

Dear Friend:

As I write this, I just came inside from picking some daffodils during a late-season snow storm.

It occurs to me that there are some things – and some people – worth freezing for. And friendships have their reasons and their seasons.

Childhood friends fade from view. College besties scatter. Professional buddies vow to stay in touch after a job change, but don’t.

Friendships formed between parents when their kids are young are especially intense, but vulnerable, because these relationships are forged during the crazy days of playdates and sleepovers and emergency babysitting needs.

But after the kids grow up and out, you recognize that your parenting brought you together, but your kids were the glue.

You feel animosity toward “Allie” because in retrospect you realize that she has not been a good friend to you.

You fulfilled some of her social and physical needs; she occasionally reciprocated. That’s what friends do, but that’s not what friends are.

True friends are daffodils in the snow, and they are well worth freezing for.

Now that the season for this friendship has passed, you should move on.

Reader response to the Seasons of Friendship

Dear Amy:

Ah, I sighed when I read your response to “A Friend” about a broken friendship: “True friends are daffodils in the snow, and they are well worth freezing for.”

I’m currently experiencing a friendship that is dying on the vine; this helped me to put it in perspective.

– Moving On

Dear Moving On:

This analogy was inspired by venturing into a snowstorm to rescue some wounded daffodils.

Updated May 20, 2022 with reader response.

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from the seasons of friendship to DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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