Is blood thicker than water? Most people dream of being part of a close family. The idea of having a sister or brother who is more like a best friend sounds perfect. Family members who live close to one another and choose to spend time together as adults are extremely lucky because for some people, the family dynamic can border on being toxic. Families can continue to hurt each other because they find it too difficult to turn their back on the unhealthy relationships. Other people don’t have the choice of having a tight knit family unit because they have no surviving relatives, or because their family has cut them off. Coping with estrangement from the family (whether by choice or not) is really difficult because it feels so unnatural.
Adele Horin wrote a fabulous piece outlining why friends are a key ingredient in a long and happy life: http://adelehorin.com.au/2013/03/11/friends-best-medicine-for-a-long-life/. Her article focused mainly on those people who have a choice to live near friends or family. And although that choice may be difficult for some because they live on the other side of the country to their family, it’s quite nice to think that in our twilight years, there will still be a loving family to nurture and care for us. For those who don’t have a healthy extended family, it’s helpful to consider the following:
Friends can often end up feeling more like family. Close friendships are based on shared interests, fun, laughter, mutual respect, love and support. As we get older, we come to rely on our friends more and more. They are often at the same stage of life as us. There is often less jealousy, competitiveness, resentment, and manipulation within close friendships than there is in toxic family units. There are no estates to be fought over, histories to be debated, and guilt trips to be taken. In other words, if your friends feel more like family than your blood relatives, you will not only survive – you may thrive!