A good friend once told me that some relationships come with an expiration date. I thought this rather odd since my only experience with things expiring pertained to old milk or a forgotten avocado shriveled and alone in the back of my refrigerator. But unlike perishable food items, relationships if properly nurtured would last a lifetime. Change was inevitable and even though friends moved away, started new careers or got married, good relationships always endured.
I especially thought this to be true with my close friend, whom I will call Sara. We met each other one summer lying on our beach towels at the neighborhood pool. We began talking and realized we had much in common. After a few more chance meetings by the pool and many more lighthearted conversations, a friendship was born.
That summer we made plans to go biking. Each weekend, thereafter, brought new adventure. We hiked, jogged, and biked some more. We went to the movies and met for dinner. We talked about the men we were dating. When one of us suffered a breakup, the other would bring the tissues and ice cream. We were becoming more than friends. We were like sisters.
But as years passed, Sara became increasingly possessive of my friendship. When I planned activities with other people, she questioned why she wasn’t invited. She insisted on spending more time together, challenging the comfort level of our friendship. When I became seriously involved with a new love interest, she told me she felt lonely and neglected.
I was torn between nurturing my relationship with the new man in my life and tending to the emotional needs of my best friend. I felt split in two. Before long, I was overwhelmed.
No matter how difficult or painful our conversation might be, I decided to confront the situation and tell Sara how I was feeling. I went over and over what I would say and how I would say it. Soon it was time to make the call. My heart was pounding as I dialed her number. When she answered, her pleasant demeanor quickly turned to sadness as I shared my feelings with her. I told her that our friendship needed to change but it would never end. Unfortunately, for Sara it was all or nothing.
I wasn’t prepared for Sara’s reaction that turned our close relationship on its head, forcing me to come to grips with a painful and changing reality. The friendship I thought was etched in stone had ended. To my great sadness it came with an expiration date.