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!


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.