Q&A: Changing adult friendships

B writes:

"I have a friend who I met about 12 years ago. At the time, we had much in common - both sang in a local group, both single and starting out in our careers. Fast forward to today. I've been married, and divorced and am raising a boy. I've recently altered the direction of my career and I'm thinking about dating (finally) again. She remains single and has had some ups and downs in her career. She desperately wants to get married and have kids.

I don't have a lot of available time to simply hang out. The time that I do have (when my son is with his father) I divide between errands and alone time and other girlfriendships that, frankly, satisfy me more. I have tried putting a little distance between us, but if I don't answer her texts quickly enough she responds with something like "I guess I'm not important to you" which just pisses me off.

Is this typical of adult women friendships?"

I don't think it's typical, per se, but I do think it happens.

I think it especially happens when you're in different places, and I don't mean situations. You can be in radically different situations (I bet you have other single friends without kids, for example), but still be in the same emotional place, or at least able to identify with that place. It sounds like you're in a place of gratitude and exploration, and she's in a place of scarcity.

(I'd also argue that you didn't really have that much in common in the first place. One activity and a few demographics. It was pretty much, "You like peanut butter, too? *I* like peanut butter!" But when you're young that can seem like enough. See: Story of my first marriage. But that doesn't make for the kind of bonding that can weather a lot of stresses on the friendship.)

When people are happy with themselves and the direction they're going, it's easier to let go of friendships that may have served them at some earlier period and understand that things have changed. Ironically, though, it's also easier to maintain friendships with people you don't have much in common with anymore if both of you are happy with yourselves.

It sounds like you're happy with yourself, but she is not, and that's causing a huge disconnect. And you're willing to move on to relationships that nurture you and let this one go. So I guess the question is whether you want to talk about it with her and get things out in the open, or just hope she gets the message and moves on herself.

Readers? How would you deal or have you dealt with changes like this?