How to Handle Shifts in Your Friendship Circle

How to Handle Shifts in Your Friendship Circle

Who was the last friend you lost? Why? Was it because you were so busy building your brand and leveling up in your life that they just fell to the wayside?

It happens. And it happens often.

A lot of times our friendships dissolve because we’re so focused on what we’re building. Hustling culture says, “Who cares? They weren’t cut out for my journey.” And that could be true but it’s not the only answer or solution to losing friends. The reality is some of our best and longest friendships begin to fizzle out for more reasons than we would rather work than text everyone back.

“The reality is some of our best and longest friendships begin to fizzle out for more reasons than we would rather work than text everyone back.”

So, how do you Handle Shifts all of the ins and outs of friendships as a woman entrepreneur? You pay closer attention to your relationships and the roles they play in your life and how it’s all related to the seasons and other areas within your life.

First thing’s first, we have to compartmentalize our friendships

The friction happens in our friendships when you realize you’re trying to put a friend in a compartment they shouldn’t be in. Those friends who are strictly coworkers shouldn’t be mad because you didn’t make it to their baby shower and you shouldn’t feel obligated to get business advice from those group chat friends who you see every 6 months.

One of the best ways we’ve found to Handle Shifts relationships as a woman entrepreneur is to compartmentalize. We got this idea from an old episode of Lisa Nicole Bell’s podcast, “Behind the Brilliance.” When you put people in different areas that have corresponding characteristics, you’re able to establish your boundaries but you’re also able to see through the erratic emotions about the Handle Shifts of your friend circle.

We’ve created 7 compartments of friends and divided them up in 3 bigger categories: Personal, Business and Other:

Personal compartments:

Group Chat Friends – This is usually where you college friends lie and all of those friends who you don’t see often but catch up with over personal moments, updates and memes you find online. Your GC friends get a lot of the real tea you can’t post online. You meet up with these friends from time to time but it’s not a common occurrence because of adulting or living in different cities etc.

Happy Hour Friends – These are the people who you text sometimes and make plans to catch up with over brunch or drinks. You share random and personal updates but, usually they aren’t that interested in your business beyond liking your posts on Instagram.

Right between personal and business, lies our favorite compartment:

Biz and Life Friends– They’re your group chat friends BUT you also talk about life and business and everything else in between. A lot of the women we’ve featured lately have been B+L Friends and asking them to collab is always much less of a headache versus asking women who you only really know via business. Your B+L Friends can give you advice on your launch and your love life and not miss a beat.

Business compartments:

Biz/Work Friends– You only really talk to this person about business things or about projects and tasks at work. Even when you talk, you keep most communication short and sweet and between regular business hours.

Other:

Social Media Associates– These are the people you love to follow online, you send them heart eyes when they post selfies and you congratulate them when they get new jobs etc. A good social media associate can easily move around to other compartments.

Associates – These are the people who you know in real life who you may follow online but don’t really speak to and you really don’t have a real relationship with anymore but, may still talk every blue moon. If you planned a birthday party for 10 people, the 10th person to come to mind may just be an associate.

Placeholders– This is usually the section where your ex-boyfriend from high school and your best friend from 3rd grade both lie in your life. This is someone you keep around for no real reason but for convenience and out of past emotional connections that you don’t want to let go. When we let Placeholders take up too much space, they can be squeezing out the real friends in our lives and make us compromise what we’re building and how we’re evolving.

Before we move on, a quick exercise you can do is to write down the first 5 friends who come to mind and put their compartment beside their name. It’ll be easier for you to see where the disconnect is and how your relationship has evolved or dissolved over time. Once you understand where your friends are grouped, it’s much easier to understand the relationship and not be shocked when your Happy Hour Friend doesn’t want to talk about your latest launch.

Secondly, we have to recognize what season we’re in

How do you know what season you’re in? Journal about what’s currently going on in your life and connect the common themes. You may be in a season of reevaluating what’s going on around you and reassessing to move forward. We’re still in a season of transition and redevelopment so that means we’re not necessarily looking to fill up our social calendars and that’s okay.

If you’re in a season of all hustle (on your own terms of course), there are people who will understand that and there are people who will be offended and feel like you’re being a “bad friend.” Both feelings are valid. When you do come up for air, it’s nice to have those Happy Hour and Group Chat Friends to talk about things that aren’t affecting your bottom line.

When you’re being more intentional, you spend less and less time catering to the people in the Other category and the Placeholders fall off. When you’re making time to be more present in real life and not living on your phone, your Happy Hour Friends may take precedence.

It really all depends on the season you’re in. Just like when your best friend gets married and you’re still single, her priorities change and because of it, her communication with you may change as well. A lot of times it’s not as connected to us as we would like to think. People aren’t always out to leave you hanging, it could just be how they’re coping with change. If it’s a friendship you genuinely care about, just check in here and there and see if the status of the relationship has actually changed or not. Maybe they’re just in changing seasons and potentially changing areas within your friend circle.

Lastly, seasons are just as important as your ideals

Using the example of the married woman above, there may be things now that she’s realized she can’t engage in the same way because she’s concerned about her household and her relationship with her partner. Her personal ideals have shifted with her season. The way she thinks is different and how she carries herself may also be different because there’s another person relying on her.

When we were gearing up to relaunch, a few people fell off and we realized because they were so deep in the busyness of working that it wasn’t in our best interest to continue the Handle Shifts. We’re focused on working hard but not at the expense of development in other areas. It didn’t make sense to keep holding on to those relationships that were clashing with the direction we were headed in. It’s no different than if you decided you no longer liked going clubbing and eventually drift away from the friends who go out every weekend. At some point, our ideals and actions should shift and our friendships should go deeper and stronger with the right people.

In conclusion, a lot of Handle Shifts fizzle on their own but it’s important to pick up on themes and patterns that make the evolution and transition make a little more sense. Usually, you know when someone is slipping in the ranks and your conversations are becoming few and far between. That’s not to say that friendship breakups don’t hurt, because they do. We also don’t want to chalk it all up to “they couldn’t Handle Shifts my growth” or “they were a bad friend so I let them go.” The hustle will and can drive friends away but it’s much more to it if you pay closer attention.

Have you dealt with letting a friend go recently? Let us know in the comments.

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