Some say that people enter our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Here’s what they mean.

Friendship comes in many forms. While some people come and go quickly from your life, others stick around until you grow old.

The main idea behind the phrase “reason, season, lifetime” is that all relationships, regardless of their length, have some sort of purpose. They might bring you:

  • Reason. This is when a short-lived relationship brings you a benefit or helps you with a realization. It helps you with a specific difficulty you’re facing, either intentionally or unintentionally.
  • Season. This is when a relationship accompanies you through a certain period of your life. It lasts for some time and brings you joy and growth. You might learn a lot from the relationship, but it eventually ends.
  • Lifetime. This is when a relationship lasts a lifetime.

Even if they don’t last for long, many forms of human connection can boost your mental health and well-being.

“People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.”

This is an opening line of a poem by Brian A. “Drew” Chalker. Since the poem became popular, the “reason, season, and lifetime” concept has been shared by many.

Research — including a 2021 review — shows us that friendships are important to our mental and physical health. And as a 2018 study shows, friendships can improve your quality of life and life satisfaction.

Although the poem is specifically about friendships, you might find it helpful to think of all relationships in this light.

Short-lived relationships can still be beneficial. Even a short interaction with a stranger can impact your life in meaningful ways.

Here are some examples of reason relationships:

  • A stranger you met in the park told you about their recent trip overseas. This conversation inspired you to look into moving abroad — and now you live in a different country thanks to them.
  • In grade school, a substitute teacher taught you for a day. He complimented you on your art and encouraged you to keep drawing. You eventually went on to become a designer.
  • You dated someone for 3 months. It eventually became toxic and you ended it. Although it hurt, the relationship taught you to stand up for yourself.
  • You had a friend-with-benefits for a few weeks before it ended. You don’t talk anymore, but they helped you feel more confident about your body.

A season relationship lasts longer, but it eventually ends — whether amicably or not so amicably.

Here are some examples of season relationships:

  • A friend you made in college helped you come out of your shell and adjust to living away from home. Although you’re no longer in contact, they made a positive impact on your self-confidence.
  • You were married for several years before divorcing. Although you and your ex outgrew one another, you also positively influenced each other’s lives.
  • Your first boss taught you a lot about your trade. Although you now work elsewhere, their lessons set the foundation for the career you have today.

When grieving a friendship — especially when you expected it to last forever — you might find it comforting to think about these positive aspects.

A long-term relationship — one that lasts a lifetime — can bring you joy, aid your growth, and teach you more about yourself and the world around you.

Whether the relationship is with a family member, a childhood friend, or a friend you’ve made as an adult, lifetime friends see you go through different stages of your life and support you through it all — and vice versa.

There are many benefits of friendships. Positive, healthy friendships can help you feel less stressed and lonely, and they can be a source of personal growth. However, it’s important to be willing to let go of a toxic friendship, even if you thought they’d be a “lifetime” friend.

Some say that everybody who enters your life does so for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. No matter how long a friendship lasts, it can bring you something positive — even if it’s just a lesson in how to spot red flags.

Even when a relationship ends badly, you might find it helpful to consider the positive memories and lessons the relationship brought you. Although these positive aspects don’t necessarily erase hurt and pain, it might be comforting to remember the good while accepting the bad.