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The Joy of New Friendships and the Comfort of the Lifelong Ones

By Fran Braga Meininger July 24, 2022 Family

There was a song, more of a jingle really, when I was growing up, Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.

It never made much sense to me then. I was too young and all my friendships were relatively new. It’s only over time that one can understand the value of a friendship that has spanned decades and endured life at its best and most challenging of times.

I am blessed with a circle of golden friendships, women who have accompanied me through my various transitions from a young woman beginning a career, a marriage and the adult chapters of the industrious years of my life, to my retirement and the new pages of my life’s story as I write it day by day.

They’ve lived it all with me, their guiding hand extended when the road got rocky, and I was unsure how to navigate the journey, their comforting embrace when grief and disappointment overcame me, learning together, maturing and becoming women who now understand better how to live a fulfilled life, moment by moment.

They know my story and I know theirs. We’ve revealed our inner selves honestly and have been accepted for who we were then and who we’ve become. These are the women with whom I will grow old and face what we must as life changes in very significant ways in the future.

But, recently, I’ve discovered the joys of new friendship. One not steeped in memories of a young life, one begun where I am now, as the woman I am today.

There’s something so intriguing about meeting a mature woman with all the road markers of life displayed in her laugh lines and furrowed brow, but not yet knowing their origin. Accepting each other at face value, willing to take a chance that my instincts are good, believing this is someone deserving of my trust, who will add to my life, as I will to hers.

It’s exciting to meet someone and invite them into my inner circle, and I believe it’s essential as I continue to evolve. But it’s also a risk. I don’t I have the time, nor the energy, to waste on someone who may not share the qualities and character I value, so I must choose well.

So far I’ve discovered it’s worth it. Here are my thoughts about how and why I am open to welcoming new friends into my life.

The Beginning of a Friendship Is Exciting

Learning about our common interests, talents, likes, dislikes, all those things that make us who we are is interesting and intriguing.

It’s like reading a new book, the first few chapters serve to introduce the setting, the characters, their personalities, struggles and purpose. We become comfortable with the author’s writing style and give ourselves over to them as our guides through the story, yet unknown. Learning about someone and allowing ourselves to be known is an intimate act that often allows our heart to be touched.

Being Known as Who We Are, Not Who We Were

It’s refreshing and freeing to offer someone a glimpse into who I am now, without the baggage of my past dragging along. This person will meet me as I am. They will get to know the person I have chosen to be at this stage of my life.

New Friendships Invite Us into a New World

One of my new friends is an actress, and I’m learning what it’s like to be on stage and in front of a camera as we get to know each other better. It’s something I’ve never explored on my own, nor probably ever would have, if I hadn’t met her.

Friends Who Share Our Interests Can Deepen Our Experience

Another new friend is a professional chef, like me. None of my other friends can relate to what we do and why. But she can.

We enjoy sharing creative experiments, introducing each other to techniques and new recipes, collaborating and supporting each other as we both hone our craft.

New Friends Who Share New Interests Broaden Our Horizons

I began hiking a few years ago, and it has since become an important part of my life. I joined several hiking groups to learn new trails, and I hike regularly with friends I made on those trips. They are energetic, enthusiastic about hiking and feel as I do about being immersed in nature, out beyond the constructed world.

Taking the Risk of Being Known Cultivates Intimacy

I joined a writing circle five years ago, when I decided I wanted to be published. Sharing work with my writing friends is like opening a private part of me. Reading our words to each other, revealing our thoughts, we’ve grown very close and become trusted friends.

It bears mentioning that although I share a history and a deep connection with my golden friends, it is still important to continue to invest in and nurture these newer friendships. By doing new and interesting things together and by being honest about how we are, we can grow together and become even closer.

Friendships are enriching and, for me, essential to a vibrant life, especially at this stage. I treasure each and every one of them as the gifts they truly are.

Have you made a new friend in the past year? Where did you meet? What are your common interests? How do you keep your old friendships interesting?

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The Author

Fran Braga Meininger writes personal narratives about the years beyond youth, a time in a woman’s life that can be vibrant, fulfilling, and wonderful, despite – or perhaps because of – all that comes with age. She lives in northern California where she hikes, bikes and lives life in big bites. You can visit her website at https://www.theyearsbeyondyouth.com

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Fran Braga Meininger

Ruth,
Your comment made me smile. Isn’t it wonderful when you find a tribe of women with a shared interest? I’m so happy for you. Fran

Claire Giles

I can relate so much to this article ! I most definitely have my golden friends, since school, and some I made in my early teens . We moved to France eight years ago and since then the golden friendships seem even stronger. We see each other once a year at least when I go back to Guernsey or they come to us . To me it seems the quality of the time spent together is more precious ! I always cry when hey leave to go back to Guernsey. Then there are the new friends I have made ,I have some strong bonds with some French friends here in France , it was love at first meet seven years ago. They didn’t speak English and our French was not good , but it didn’t matter , we are like family the six of us and their children , precious to me . We have made new English friends and have other French friends who we play pétanque with and now we help on the sports and social . Making the effort to integrate and being kind has its rewards. Sorry it’s so long , I could go on and on ! 🥰

Kathy

Thank you for your inspiring reads,I am 61 and have recently been traveling down a road I am not comfortable with, I fear many, my life long best dog companion is 14 and I see the oncoming changes and it scares the living daylights out of me of losing this love that has been by my side always.
My husband and I recently more than ever seem to be irritated with one another and hurtful words are said and I am so sad anymore.

Susan

This is a wonderful article about the importance of old and new friends! Sometimes making new friends is hard especially ifwe’ve gone from married to single or moved to a new place but it is so worth the effort! I fit the single and new place profile and am meting new friends at water aerobics or attending a wine tasting. Waliking my dog or gardening in my yard has introduced me to new people. Inviting in curious neighbors who heard I am renovating has brought my suggestions for resources for my project and invites for coffee. Some of these people will become casual friends. A few I have really “clicked” with and will become closer friends and I look forward to that!

Ruth Saddick

I joined a 55year plus gym exclusively for women and have made new, exciting and dynamic women.
We laugh a lot, encourage each other and will get together for a wine on occasion.
Our motto is a safe space that allows for no judgment.
It’s nice to have the new friends along with the old.
I feel blessed and happy.

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