Let’s talk about making & being friends as an adult, shall we? In the last week, a few things have been swirling that made me give some serious thoughts to the friends I keep and I’ve seen so many of you openly discussing the same. So let’s talk.
Making and keeping friends as an adult is hard. By this point in our lives, most of us have created many different groups of friends that comprise our social circle: lifetime friends, university friends, work/industry friends, friends we meet because of common interests. Social media makes keeping up with these people easy, but it also exacerbates existing problems: too many things to do, not enough time. Gossip. FOMO. Perfect life syndrome. It’s hard to prioritize, to fully trust and to maintain friendships, especially when we all have so many other things going on and when people are on so many different paths in far-spread places. So: what do we do? I’ve read two really great articles recently that hit the adult friendship nail on the head.
The first is “Fuck Yes or No”, a super-insightful article about dating. The principle is simple: if you’re not feeling all “Fuck Yes!” about someone – or they are not feeling that about you – don’t pursue it. No grey area. No “he’s not that into you” self help book required. Yes or No. If you have to ask, it’s a no.
This is easily applied to both activities and friends. We all have those friends we feel so-so about, the ones we don’t really open up to because we’re afraid of a confidentiality breach, the ones we’re pretty sure turn around and talk smack the second you’re out of sight. If you feel iffy about it, quit it. Easier said than done though, right? Maybe not. Intuition is one of our most powerful tools and I know that I don’t utilize mine often enough. Luckily, I have a fiance with fantastic intuition – he’s successfully flagged all of the people who would let me down over the past few years. I don’t like him being right all the time, so it’s time to listen to my own gut instead of relying on his (extremely fine-tuned) bullshit barometer.
The second, “Showing Up: The Single Most Important Thing A Friend Can Do” is, again, so self-explanatory. The premise: show up to the things that matter. Drop the people who don’t show up to your things that matter or where there is resentment on either side of the relationship. This one is a toughie. It requires some effort on your part to budget your time in a way that ensures you’re consistently feeding the relationships you want to flourish. It also means knowing when it’s time to let go and move on.
At its core, this sounds so basic: love someone, show up for them. You’d be shocked how many people just plain don’t make the effort, though Things you need to show up for (or at the very least try to move heaven and earth in an attempt to attend): birth, death, sickness, Big Life Milestones. That friend who tried to (or did) bail on your engagement party / Dirty 30 / new job celebratory drinks? Not really your friend.
The best part about applying these two ideas? It frees up more time for the people and activities you care about. For me, it means no longer feeling emotionally drained when I get home.
Remember: hanging out with your friends should make you feel awesome! You should have the kind of friends who will say yes without hesitation when you ask them to do something wacky (like go to a country concert when they don’t generally love it) and who you would drop everything for should they need to talk. You shouldn’t feel like seeing someone is a chore or that you need to constantly censor yourself or play a part.
Adult Friendship: Rules of the Road
- Show up. Don’t miss the big stuff. Show your friends you care. Celebrate with them, cry with them, hug it out.
- Drop those who don’t show up for you. You deserve better.
- That nagging feeling you get around certain people: listen to it. They’re probably bad news.
- Only agree to do something / see someone when it’s a Fuck Yes! Say no if you are on the fence or just don’t care. Your time is precious.
- Act like an adult. High school was a long time ago – you’re better than that now. Or if you’re not, re-evaluate your life choices.
And…if you’re feeling bad because of someone else:
So, to the ones who make me the happiest: thank you. Really, truly, honestly.
And to the ones I should have quit a long time ago: