1. You start to want to do more than just go out and drink. All of a sudden, you want to go on hikes and take paint classes and go on retreats and learn to cook and do Tarots with your friends, and it is truly a sign of your transformation into a Functioning Person.
2. You start to differentiate “people you actually liked” from “people you only stayed friends with out of proximity.” People always talk about the friendship exodus of your 20s… and… they’re pretty much correct. Largely it’s a product of realizing that you were friends with people from school or work or the town because you had to be. Now, as an adult, you’re friends with people because you want to be.
3. You realize that the good friendships are the elastic ones. The kinds of friendships that last are the ones that evolve as you do. You aren’t the same people you were five years ago, but your grown up selves are somehow just as close, too.
4. The competitiveness starts to dissolve. You start to realize that some friends will be more successful than you, some less, but the people to keep around are the ones who… You realize you’re on the same team.
5. You stop talking about people, and start talking about goals, ideas and plans. You want to talk about home reno, or how to budget, or why one of you supports Hillary. You begin having conversations of substance, not because you were shallow before, but because you now know just a smidgen more about the world.
6. You can talk about problems in a real way, before it erupts into a fight. You can text a real friend and say “hey, I feel really jealous of your promotion, I wish I didn’t, but it’s bothering me. I love you and I’m happy for you…” and consider it the mark of a healthy ass friendship.
7. You start to realize the potential to meet new people is quickly evaporating before you. Which is perhaps in part why you start to value the friends you do have more than you ever did before.
8. You are either unconditionally supportive or one another, or you’re not really friends. Once upon a time, if you didn’t like your BFF’s new potential partner for objectively shallow and stupid reasons, you could be very vocal about it, and it’s likely that they’d listen. Now, you have to actually get to know the person, and support them in whatever decision they feel is best.
9. You’re somehow not much less obsessed with one another… but you’re obsessed with other things too.
10. You don’t need to see each other all the time to know you’re still friends. Seeing each other once a week is considered pretty amazing, and if you’re able to chat now and again, that’s good enough – you don’t have to be inseparable to know that they still love you.
11. You become increasingly more loyal as the years go on. If another friend had something not-so-nice to say about another friend a few years ago, you’d quietly let it slide. Now, you defend them like family.
12. You start seeing time as something to spend carefully, not something you have to waste. Which largely influences how you behave in your friendships. It’s much more intentional than it was before, because you’re ever so slightly more conscious of the fact that you don’t actually have forever to live the life you want.
13. You start to love each other for who you really are, not what you can temporarily do for one another. A lot of friendships growing up (the ones that didn’t last) were built on the premise of how you helped one another (they made you look cooler, were a pal at the lunch table, etc.) Now, you begin to build friendships based on how genuinely you “click,” and how much you have in common.
14. You start to understand the phrase “pick your family.” Because over time, some friends do just become like family in your mind, and you treat them/regard them the same way as you do your biological kin.
15. You realize how absolutely rare real friendship is. You used to throw around that word like it was just anything, but now you’re starting to see that just having one really close friend in this life is a lot more than many people have, and there’s not much more you could ask for.