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Outgrown My Friends

Outgrown My Friends

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Dear Rachel,

I have a group of friends that I have been close to since we were in junior high school. We also all went to the same high school and remained close during college as well. Yet now that I am twenty-five, I am finding that we really have different interests and desires in life. I also happen to be the only Jew amongst the group, and recently I have become more interested in my Judaism and really want to marry a Jewish man. My friends are blaming Judaism for the fact that I am not spending so much time with them, but the truth is that I just feel like we no longer have anything in common. Please help!

Friendless

Dear Friendless,

While there is no question that the situation you are describing must be painful, it is also quite common. Especially at this point in your life. As we grow and develop, so do our interests and the people we like to share them with. Often, while we are in high school or even college, we may be more focused on having fun and being with people that we can have fun with, rather than establishing the kinds of friendships that will endure throughout our lives.

There are often friends we have because we share common interests and are at similar points in our lives, and then there are friends that we have because of the bond that we have created and the history we share together. Chances are that when you marry you will find that you start to spend more time with other friends who are married, so too once you have children. We need friends at different points in our lives who can share what we are going through and experiencing. If you are up all night with a screaming newborn, the advice and support another new mother can give you is very different than from an unmarried friend who may care for you but truly cannot share what you are going through.

Being that you seem to be interested lately in exploring your Judaism, and you mention that your friends are not Jewish, that could easily result in feeling that you no longer have anything in common. And it would be great for you to make new friends and find Jewish women that you can connect and relate to as you enter this new phase in your life.

It is totally understandable that if you are interested in going to a Torah class and your old friends want to go to a bar, that you are going to have a hard time doing both. But at the same time, maybe try to find activities that you do all have in common and enjoy doing together. If they are truly your friends and care about you, they should be happy that you are exploring your Judaism and that you have found new interests that make you feel fulfilled. If they can't understand or appreciate that, then perhaps you really did not have such a strong bond in the first place, and it was merely common interests or convenience that kept you being friends. And if this is the case, it will just be a matter of time before the relationship naturally dissolves.

However, if your relationship is built on something deeper, then explain to your friends why you are doing what you are doing. Try to find things that you can do together that does not make you or them feel left out. And be open and honest with them about how you are feeling in certain situations. After all, sharing and caring is what friends are for. So the real question is not so much if you should remain friends with these people, but the bigger question is if these people are truly your real friends in the first place.

Just remember, we all grow up and we do outgrow different situations and relationships. But the ones that are healthy and give us love and support, are the ones to hold onto. The ones that only aim to bring us down, are the ones that have no place in our present and certainly not in our future.

Rachel

"Dear Rachel" is a bi-weekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Sara Esther Crispe.

Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the Co-Director of Interinclusion, a non-profit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of TheJewishWoman.org and wrote the popular weekly blog, Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
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Anonymous March 5, 2015

Keep Moving Forward I am so glad to hear that many have gone through what I am going through right now! The more I become observant the more I want to ignore my friends. I feel terrible but I think its part of the process that is necessary. Being the only jew in a group of friends is difficult because it brings distractions and influences that are not desired in my life. Although, I will always remember the good times I had with those friends but shedding friends from life only leaves room for new ones! I felt so alone with no friends that were like me. Then I thought about how the patriarchs like our father Avraham,Moshe, and David spent many days alone. This gave me courage and understanding that being alone can be a great blessing because it has allowed me to be the man that Hashem wants me to be and spend much more time learning Torah then distracted with friends. When the time comes I know I will make new friends that are jewish and have many things in common with who I am today. Reply

Anonymous Canberra, Australia September 8, 2011

I like the saying "friends are for a reason, a season, or a lifetime." Sometimes its natural to just move on. It can be hard for your friends to understand but it might be easier if you can make time to see them every now and again, even if it is not very often. Maybe doing something regular together, like catching up on a certain night, or taking a class at the gym together, would help them see that they can still be part of your life while you figure out what role Judaism will play for you in the future. If they are true friends you will find you have things in common again in the future, and they will be able to adjust to accomodate a Jewish man and your more Jewish lifestyle over time. Good luck! Reply

Lisa Providence, RI January 22, 2011

Outgrown My Friends Judaism has NOTHING to do with the situation you're in. True friends accept you no matter what, and these people you grew up with have no right to use that against you!

You can outgrow people by growing up, while they stay exactly the same way, and you need to tell them that. If they no longer want you as their friend, don't despair - you can make NEW friends who will accept you unconditionally! Reply

Anonymous ottawa, canada July 24, 2008

no honey make new friends Most people move on in life & keep in contact (sometimes and rarely) with 2-3 people form high school....check this out. Don't revert back to reliving high school & look like a sad person who misses the 'glory days' - meet new people, have new experiences. High school was only for 4 years when you were a teenager

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Scott San Francisco, CA February 26, 2008

Losing friends I had the exact same thing happen to me as I became more observant in my thirties. Stopped golfing on Shabbat afternoons, spent an evening or two a week in classes at different synagogues and attended services on Shabat. I changed the way I ate and moved through the world. Within a year I lost maybe a dozen friends...but I gained about two dozen new ones whose values were more consistent with mine. This may happen to you many times in your life for different reasons. I can't think of a better reason than havinga spirtual awakening. My life changed much for the better. Reply

Rachel Garber Phila , PA USA February 25, 2008

Friends change Dear Friendless, I understand what you are going through. I am much older than you, (old enough to be your mother), but I had some friends from 4th grade until the 10th grade. I changed majors in the 10th grade, and made new friends among the classmates in my new major. Several years after high school I converted to Judaism, and since I was one of a small number of Jews (there were very few Jews living in my neighborhood when I was growing up) I moved away from those high school friends too. Then I made new friends who were and are mostly Jewish. I think people go through phases, and sometimes we leave friends behind, for various reasons At my age, I have realized that people that I met around the time of my conversion (when I was a year younger than you), I have now been friends for 25 or 30+ years. Don't let your friends criticism of your stronger attachment to Judaism put you off, it sounds like they have a bit of anti-Semitism. It didn't "bother" them when you were just nominally Jewish, now that are practicing your faith, they are attacking Judaism. Judaism is a "lifestyle" so to speak. You can just attend services, , or you can make it an integral part of your life. Your friends seem to be threatened by the fact that you are really living your Judaism, and they are using that to attack you. I have to wonder if your friends were really friends. They accepted the Jewish girl as long as she wasn't too Jewish, now they seem to be showing their true colors. I wish you luck, and don't worry about what they think. It's not important. You will make new friends who share your values. I wish you luck and happiness in your pursuit of a stronger attachment to Judaism, it's been a very fulfilling life for me. Reply

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