Family-Family: Contrary to popular belief, marriage does not ruin friendship. In fact, it can make friendships better. As your life becomes fuller and you become less needy, you're able to be a better friend, says Jan Yager, author of Friendshifts: The Power of Friendship and How It Shapes Our Lives. Which is great news for two family-focused friends -- and the reason you're so compatible. Married friends can help each other's marriages, too, by providing an additional source of intimacy (so you don't hound your husband for too much TLC, perhaps) and reinforcement of self-worth. Likewise, if you're a new mom, friendship, especially with other moms, is vital: Friends help you feel supported and capable.
Family-Love: When one friend is focused on finding a partner (Love) and one friend is already coupled (Family), there is risk for jealousy and resentment, especially if the coupled friend isn't sensitive to her love-seeking friend's plight (or if Love decides it's okay to cancel plans with Family for a man). Love needs daily contact and connection that Family may take for granted. These issues should be discussed and worked through. Love and Family may find that spending time alone, without Family's romantic partner, makes sustaining the friendship easier. Still, you may end up seeing less of each other and, over time, becoming less close. Both of you will benefit from making other like-minded friends.
Family-Career: Lack of time for each other may be one of your biggest friendship hurdles. You may care deeply for each other but lack opportunities to connect the way you used to. Maintaining your closeness will certainly take effort. When Career and Family talk or get together, they must respect each other's lifestyles and life choices, advises Jan Yager, Ph.D., in her book Friendshifts: The Power of Friendship and How It Shapes Our Lives. For example, Yager advises women to stay clear of the work-vs.-parenthood debate, if two friends are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Instead, focus on those issues you agree on.
Family-Self: Family and Self are not the most compatible combo. Both are preoccupied with their own interests and responsibilities and shouldn't pretend otherwise -- your lack of friendship focus won't go unnoticed. Family's best bet is to tell Self that she knows she hasn't been that available lately, that she loves and misses her friend. Self should take the time to explain to Family why her priorities are what they are, since Family may not immediately understand. Reassurance and openness right now are key. Family and Self need to bring each other into their new lives as much as possible, says Jan Yager, Ph.D., author of Friendshifts: The Power of Friendship and How It Shapes Our Lives. The bottom line: It's very difficult, albeit not impossible, for a single woman to maintain a close friendship with a married friend and vice versa, especially if Self has had a marital separation or divorce and the friendship was based on being part of a couple. Remember, there's no sense hanging onto a friendship that was once beneficial but that has grown troublesome and unfulfilling.