Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2001

Childhood friendships can survive college

Communication and effort key to maintaining relationships after high school

August 23, 2001


Kristin Taylor and Casey Finnegan are clothes-rack hopping at Nordstrom when Taylor stops to admire a long-sleeved, red knit top.

"I already bought it," Finnegan informs her best friend. "We can mail it back and forth to each other."

"Seriously," Taylor says, not taking her eyes off the top.

Even though Taylor will be attending the University of Arizona and Finnegan will be at Orange Coast College, the young women don't expect much to change in their friendship.

And that includes sharing clothes that fit either of their 6-foot frames, their love of Jimmy Buffett music, and playing water polo for their school team.

It probably will be easier for best friends like Taylor and Finnegan to remain close than for young lovers whose college choices force them to separate, relationship experts say.

That's because friendship is the basis of the relationship, not the charged emotions of romantic love.

It will still take some work to remain friends, but the investment in time and energy is well worth it, says Sol Gordon, an author and lecturer on topics such as relationships, sexuality and family studies.

"People think about their friendships during their adolescence, and because they didn't take the time to maintain them, it turns out to be one of the great regrets in life," Gordon says. "There's really no substitute for best friends or good friends."

Ashley Woodring grasped this concept during her senior year at El Toro High when she chose not to become romantically involved with anyone.

For one, she wanted to enjoy what free time she had with her friends. And she knew early on that she would be attending Marquette University in Wisconsin and didn't want to have to say goodbye to a boyfriend.

Instead of spending her money on school-sponsored senior-year trips, she and Chelsea Arnott her best friend since sixth grade spent two weeks last month in Kauai, Hawaii.

Arnott will attend Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, but the friends have already stood the test of separation. They went to different high schools, and Woodring moved to Florida for one year.

"That's when you kind of learn who your real friends are, if you can keep in touch with them from a long distance," Woodring says.

Having different college experiences might actually serve to deepen a friendship rather than fray it.

Finnegan and Taylor figure they may become closer by sharing the new experiences they'll have in different worlds.

"I'm happy for her because she gets to go experience the college dorm life and sororities," says Finnegan, who wanted to stay near home. "We can live through each other's lives."

They expect to do that for many years to come.

Says Taylor: "She's more of me than anyone I've ever known. Casey will be there at my wedding and to see my kids. She's the one that I can look back with and say, 'Oh, remember when we were in high school. ...'"

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