Friendships have never been my strong point in life. However, when I reconnected with Minimalism and came across the concept of Slow Living, I started reflecting on past and present friendships, and what friendship means to me in the context of Slow Living.

‘Failed’ friendships

To be honest, I’ve not had a great track record with friendships. I used to be someone who entered into a friendship with lots of enthusiasm but wasn’t good at practicing boundaries.

I’ve given a lot of myself and people came to expect I would be there whenever they needed me. Inevitably, I grew resentful about these expectations and when I did express how I felt this was met, understandably, with confusion and anger. Really, I should have reinforced my boundaries sooner.

Other friendships have seemed to end without much warning. The other person has withdrawn contact, despite my continued attempts to keep in touch. Perhaps I should have asked if something was wrong. Instead, I was left feeling that a friendship shouldn’t be about “chasing” the other person, so I decided it was better to step away.

I guess I shouldn’t take all the responsibility for these friendships not working out; after all, there are two people involved. However, these experiences have taught me a few things; some friendships are for certain ‘seasons’ in our lives and aren’t meant to last, whilst others are for the long haul. I also learned, rightly or wrongly, to hold back when faced with a potential new friendship – to not give of myself too freely in the beginning.

Friendships done ‘right’?

Aside from what I’ve said above, I have friendships that have lasted many years, so I can’t be entirely bad a friend!

These friendships are two-way and feel much more balanced; both sides give and take in equal measure. I don’t see these friends very often but when we do meet, the conversation flows and it feels like no time has passed.

Thinking about it, these friends are very much like me. They too have a small circle of friends but also enjoy their own company. They don’t need to be around people to be okay.

Ever since I reconnected with Minimalism and its principles in early 2024, I’ve come to appreciate these friendships so much more. The things I took for granted how moved much more centre stage.

Slow Living and friendships

Slow Living, for me, is about creating balance in my life. It’s about making time for things that matter, rather than filling it with things that don’t enrich my life, and by “things” I include physical items, relationships, and activities.

Since shifting my focus onto a slower life, I’ve reflected on the importance of friendships and connections. Here’s what I recognised about myself:

  1. I have room to improve when it comes to being a friend. I can be too ‘in my own head’ at times and forget the people around me;
  2. I don’t need a lot of friends. I’m happy in my own company and doing things by myself. I’d rather have a few good-quality friendships than many ‘acquaintances’;
  3. I don’t want to commit to seeing a friend multiple times each month. I don’t need that much contact;
  4. Relating to number 3, I’m nervous about making new friends in case they have different expectations for the level of contact they would like;
  5. I’m someone who likes to potter about; to have a bit of company occasionally, and then be left to it.
  6. I don’t like meeting with friends to wander around shops (retail therapy isn’t my thing). I prefer going for walks or catching up over a slow-paced meal.

Considering my reflections about the importance of connections, some of these sound pretty antisocial don’t they! Also, I understand that friendships have ‘give and take’ and that it can’t always be about what I want. However, I do want friendships that are meaningful, where we’re talking about important, real-life things.

My existing friendships are important to me and I can do better by keeping them more in mind. New friendships will need careful consideration. I don’t want to let people down who might expect more contact than I’m willing to give. Nor do I want to go along with what someone wants, just to please them – I’ve been there before and it hasn’t ended well.

What friendship means when living a slow life

With all this being said, here’s what I think friendship means when living a Slow Life:

  • Curating friendships to be two-way, balanced, and meaningful (whatever that looks like for you);
  • Both sides being clear about the boundaries – I guess this happens over time;
  • I believe that friendships flow better when both people have similar values. They don’t have to be exactly the same but I do think there needs to be some overlap in order for those values to be shared, and enjoyed;
  • Supporting one another with practicing the Slow Living philosophy – encouraging the cultivation of a slow, balanced life.

How do friendships fit with your practice of Slow Living? Let me know in the comments!