Growing Apart

Growing old is tough. We all know that. At some point we realize that life isn’t hanging out and partying with friends multiple days per week.

One aspect of adulthood that can catch folks off guard is if they move into a different socio-economic class than their friends and relatives, or if their friends and relatives do the same.

As a kid it is fairly easy to hang out with your friends in town. The kids in your neighborhood most likely are of a similar socio-economic background. You probably have the same video game, or like similar sports, or watch the same YouTuber.

Most people are poor in college, and even the ones that aren’t will often act that way because it’s seen as the normal thing to do in college. The kids on a full needs-based scholarship still room with the kids whose parents are cash flowing tuition, room, and board. Everyone still drinks the cheap booze and goes to the regular student events on campus.

Then people graduate (or don’t). The engineering friend who is always good in school moves west to start a six-figure job in tech. The friend who doesn’t really have a plan or a marketable degree, might move home and take an entry-level job in their home town. The savvy friend whose parents have connections moves to NYC and goes into investment banking. Another friend with a liberal arts degree decides if they should take on more debt to go to grad school and get a degree that will help them pay off their undergrad loans.

As everyone’s late 20s roll around, the differences become more apparent. There will be DINKs with two upper class incomes, the one-income family with kids, the folks still trying to find the right career all while still saddled with student loans, and endless other scenarios and lifestyles.

The DINKs are off in Australia for two weeks while the old college roommate is still trying to figure out how to move out of their parents’ house.

Unfortunately I don’t have a fix to the potential ramifications this will have on friendships. The only words of wisdom I can provide is to keep your friend’s economic means in mind when suggesting things to do together. Don’t put undue stress on them with offering only expensive options for hanging out. I’m sure no one would want the wealthier friend doing the same to them.

It’s a tough balancing act as no one ever wants to feel left out of a group activity, no matter the cost.

In the end, just like with many personal situations, a little empathy and compromise goes a long way in maintaining friendships and helping them last for the long haul.

2 thoughts on “Growing Apart

  • We struggle with this one. Even in discussions about how you are it can be an issue. Ie should you mention a recent vacation to someone who can barely afford to drive down the street to the grocery store? That being said there are ways to make it work.

  • There are NOT ‘ways to make it work’. This is an insuperable problem. The only thing to be said in favor is that it’s better to have that problem than terminal cancer.

    The ‘adjustment’ must be made by the less-advantaged ‘friend’. To him/her I would say the following:

    Get used to the idea that you cannot compete with your erstwhile friends. Look for friendship among people in your own income bracket. You will be much happier and there will be no pressure to survive among your new friends. There is truly no other way and anyone who says there is is lying.

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