Indy Maven Friendship Series, Part II: Major Life Events & Friendship

From marriage to motherhood to moving - and beyond - we are curious how major life events affect friendship.
To hands interlocking pinky fingers with Indy Maven Friendship Series logo above

The Indy Maven Friendship series is tackling this simple yet complex relationship from various angles. 

We at Indy Maven see the theme of friendship all over the place lately. It’s in the zeitgeist, if you will. Maybe Covid and all its social distancing turned it into a hot topic. Maybe it’s always been a hot topic. But regardless of the reason, lately we can’t scroll without stumbling upon stories about friendship breakups, adult friendships, friendships and boundaries, the importance of friendship… even friendship coaches.

So, we crowdsourced a handful of contributors, board members, as well as the nuclear team at Indy Maven/Maven Space. After all, Indy Maven is made of multitudes. The more voices that chime in, the better we understand and empathize with all women, and the better chance we have at fulfilling our mission. We weren’t sure what kind of a response we’d get. But, as a good friend would, everyone showed up. Better yet, they had something to say.

In Part II of our series, we are dissecting how major life events impact friendships. Specifically we asked, How did [INSERT MAJOR LIFE EVENT] change your friendships? (i.e. marriage, having children, moving away, Covid, changing course in your career, divorce, illness)?

I wouldn’t say it changed friendships, but the support I got from my crew when my mom passed away just solidified what I already knew – my village kicks ass and they show up💕.

I had several significant friendship changes during Covid, partly due to logistics and circumstances (not going inside with people for long periods of time) and partly due to the cracks that were already there.  The relationships I had that were already fragile or fraught became even harder during Covid.  With the intense emotions, anxiety and exhaustion that Covid brought for me I just didn’t have the margin or energy to fix things that were broken, to repair what was already slipping away.

Leslie Bailey Headshot

Having children changed my friendships in so many ways because I changed in so many ways. Without getting to nuanced, I recognized that some friends just weren’t really interested in me as a mother, some didn’t mind either way, and some it made our connection stronger. It was a fascinating experience.
Leslie Bailey, CEO and Co-founder, Indy Maven

Casey Cawthorn headshot

Honestly, post-pandemic, I’m finding that friendship is even harder. After Covid, I had this false assumption that as a society we’d keep a steadier pace. Instead, I’m finding in my industry, we’re back and moving even faster. This has really impacted my ability to make time quickly. I’ve now become that friend that needs a calendar invitation to hang out. But I’ve found that having less time to give has made my connections deeper. Whether it’s because we have to prioritize how we engage in our time together, or we’re all just navigating this more mature phase of life—my time with my friends has gone from entertaining to restorative; and I’m grateful for that.
Casey Cawthon, Contributor

Arianna CruzI won’t name specific events, but I saw life events sift out and lift up friends that I know are in it for the long haul. When the going gets tough and it isn’t just about brunches or happy hours, but instead about sitting and just being there for one another when the words have run out and the clouds close in…..I’ve seen and felt what light and love feels like when people are living their own full lives and saving space to be there. Through these times, I am 1) reminded of how truly lucky and blessed I am to have these friendships in my life, and 2) reminded that showing up for someone means showing up even when you’re tired. It’s always easy to be friends with someone when your life is great, and their life is great, but life isn’t always like that, and it means something to ebb and flow with another as life does.
Arianna Cruz, Operations Board Member and a 2023 Indy Maven Women to Watch

Traci Cumbay headshotLosing a job and COVID gave me one of my strongest, most meaningful friendships. Someone I’d known casually lost her job within weeks of me losing mine. We started meeting weekly to compare notes, share prospects, support each other, and laugh. We found jobs and then WHAM–COVID. Which saw us taking to the trails. We’ve spent so many amazing hours talking over big ideas, dumb stuff men say, our kids, our worries, and just how pretty the trees look. She’s an absolute treasure to me, and I guess I owe our very dear friendship to some of the worst times of my life. Probably harder to form an intense bond when everything’s hunky-dory, huh?
Traci Cumbay, writer

I was young, going through a mental health crisis, getting divorced, and left the Church all with 3 young kids. You find out very quickly who is left standing next to you. Friends disappeared, but it was humbling and one of the most important self-discovery times in my life. I had to become my own best friend. That is super cheesy, but it wasn’t easy. It was sometimes the loneliest and took many years. Well worth it. It has made me a better friend.
Michelle Dahl, Editorial & Operations Boards Member

Kay HawthorneGraduating college changed my friendships because we couldn’t rely on proximity and regularly seeing each other anymore. We had to become a lot more intentional about checking in via phone or text, and making efforts to see each other.
Kay Hawthorne, Contributor

Collen HungerfordMoving from LA to Indy was so interesting because I actually moved closer to my best friends, we had spent decades living 1000s of miles away from each other and now we were 20 min away. So that has been awesome, but it also means there is more time and effort involved vs sending text messages and funny memes.
Colleen Hungerford, Premier Partner

Kelli Jenkins HeashotI lost a lot of friends when I got divorced. I was young when I got married, and I was married to someone I’d known for most of my life. When I chose to leave that relationship, a lot of really important, long term friendships suddenly dissolved. I decided to prioritize myself, my wants, and my wellbeing, and that was not something I had ever done before. Suddenly, I looked very different to some people (and myself, because choosing to prioritize yourself can be so scary!). It was really hard and sad to lose friends as I was losing a marriage, along with an old version of myself. It made me so much stronger and I’m still so proud of myself for maintaining that conviction and not allowing myself to become complacent just to avoid the pain of growing and moving on. I still thinking of the people who didn’t stick by me in that time, and I still love and care for them. It was so incredibly eye-opening to become aware of the fact that some friendships are built on a foundation of who someone thinks you are. If you have friends that love you for the role you’re playing for them, those aren’t really your friends. They won’t love you when you love yourself enough not to play the role anymore.
Kelli Jenkins of the Spellsisters, Indy Maven’s Resident Astrologist

Karen KennedyMy best friend Lisa, (with whom I’ve been friends for 40 years!) and I have been through divorce (on my end), cancer and extremely premie twins (on her end), broken bones and surgeries (for both of us.) And every time, without fail, we just simply show up for each other. It’s something we can both count on.
Karen Kennedy, Events Director, Maven Space

Jalysa KingOh gosh! I would saying when I moved to college a lot of my friendships changed. I only moved two hours away from my hometown, but it made such a difference. I’ve had a few other things lately I think impact friendships, but moving away was huge. A lot of the ladies I was close with in high school are still extremely close and live in close proximity, and I’ve just lost touch and we drifted a part. I do think about them often!
Jalysa King, Sales Maven and Contributor

Headshot of Amanda Kingsbury

In 2022, I decided to go booze-free for a year (a path I’ve continued). I belong to an online group where people often talk about lonely that path can be, because they’ve had to let go of relationships where the only thing they had in common was drinking. Or, friends stop inviting them to parties, events, etc. I wondered if my decision would affect my close friendships/social life, but it hasn’t. Every single person has supported me 100% — instead of meeting for happy hour, we go hiking, go to literary events, or meet for yoga or breakfast. One even went booze-free for a while.
Amanda Kingsbury, Co-founder, Indy Maven

Abby Kom sitting in front of a mural at Maven SpaceCollege is often defined as a time of change in a young person’s life. Students will move away to a foreign town to study topics that they know nothing about. So when I went to study at Butler University, I was prepared for my life to look different – what I wasn’t prepared for was the support system I developed during that college to change. My friend, Audrey, decided she wanted to study abroad in Spain for a semester. While I was incredibly excited for her, I was terrified of what that would mean for our friendship. She and I had habits that would inevitably change once she was out of the country. I was left asking questions like “Who am I going to do Trader Joes runs with?”, “Who is going to go on de-stressing walks with me?”, “Who is going to help get me through college?”. I think this is something that a lot of women experience. As you grow older, your surroundings change, and it can be a really scary time with a lot of unknowns. The answers to my questions, however, were the same before and after she moved. She and I would Facetime from Trader Joe’s, call on walks, and she was still there for me through the tough times. So yes, of course our communication is different. And yes, I miss her like crazy, but I’ve found that while the nature of a friendship might change, the love and support from them don’t have to. 
Abby Kom, 2023 Indy Maven Indiana Press Club Foundation Fellow

Samantha Kupiainen headshotOne of my closest friends and I have both had a parent go through the same illness at the same time, and it strengthened our friendship like none other. Simply having that person to vent to and share my fears and worries with was such a comfort, and it showed that my feelings were valid because my bestie usually felt the same way. This happened pretty early on in our friendship, and I believe it’s why our friendship is so strong today. 
Samantha Kupiainen, Contributor

Despi MayesEvery major life event affects friendship. I’ve experienced an increase closeness with some after leaving a job and a complete dissolution of friendship after leaving other jobs. When I was younger I had many more relationships based on proximity. Time spent = closeness, but in my forties I feel like depth of connection matters more. When I feel a real connection with someone I’m willing to work harder to maintain the relationship. Time spent becomes a byproduct of connection instead of a requirement for the friendship.
Despi Mayes, Indy Maven Member

Lindsay McGuire Headshot Having a child definitely changes your friendships by broadening your circle. Once you become a mom, you’re automatically a part of the mom club. This has made it much easier to begin new friendships and talk to new people, as we can notate something in common within seconds if our children are around. Although it does make it harder to maintain friendships due to more time constraints and responsibilities, it oftentimes shows you who your true friends really are. 
Lindsay McGuire, Contributor

Maura Malloy is a writer, minimalist, TedX Talker, and Indy Maven’s Assistant Editor.

Have something to add to the conversation? Email us at and tell us how a major life event affected a friendship.

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