Every friendship in our lives brings us a step closer to happiness. Having a lot of friends has been scientifically proven to pretty much save people from dropping dead right here and now, according to an article by Eric Barker.
And here it comes – the BUT!
After the insecurities of junior high, when you are desperate to belong; after the greater insecurities toppled with great expectations of senior high, when you see the world through your peer’s eyes; after college, where it’s all about laying down the contacts network you will subsist on for the rest of your life – comes a time you need to admit some friendships just don’t cut it anymore.
I was 22 the first time and it broke my heart. Probably similar thing happens in your 30s, 40s and, most certainly, your 80s. But for now – here is what to expect to shed in your 20s.
1. The Childhood Bestie.
Not your soul mate, granted. But who has ever had just one childhood bff? There was the girl, whose mum was a family friend; that boy from across the street; the girl you shared a desk with in second grade; the person you confided in when you made out with a guy for the first time. There was always that someone from far back, an eye-witness of you becoming you, whom you never imagined out of your life. You shared hundreds of memories and were making epic plans for the future – flatmates, weddings, pushing strollers in the park together… Only to someday find out that you both have changed. I remember my childhood bestie telling me “If I had not known you for so long, I would hate you, you are exactly the type of person I would never find myself liking now.” In two years we were not friends anymore.
But it’s OK. Once you realize you are bad for each other and acknowledge that you have grown, it’s easier to preserve the good memories. Just accept that this person can still be a part of you becoming you, without struggling to keep up the appearance of a hollow relationship.
2. The Guy Who Wanted More
Here I will tread in “friend-zoning” territory. Admittedly, it is a thing and all women do it. Hurtful as it might be, the friend zone is quite far from the “rejected unscrupulously for bad smell and other inexcusable reasons” zone, where a lot of guys end up, too.
But in every girl’s adolescence there was that one guy friend, whom she genuinely cherished. She probably regretted not being attracted to him, because they got along perfectly. She also probably knew that, deep down, he wanted something more, but hoped they could just move past it and live happily in their perfect friendship land. Until he plucked up the courage, confessed his feelings and ruined everything. Been there.
When this scenario plays out you end up avoiding each other and eventually losing the friendship, which probably was more valuable than a short-lived love affair could have ever been.
3. The Group Friend You Ended Up With.
You shared so many things – clubs you liked, people you hanged with, people you hated. You probably met in college because you happened to move in close circles. Maybe you took a class or even did an internship together. It’s easy to keep these “friends by design” close to heart, so much so that it physically hurts when you realize you’re doing things for and because of this person just out of habit. The collective memories of times well spent can hold a friendship for just so long. You are afraid that losing this person would mean losing the whole group you both belong to.
I had built this stable safety net of friends around myself and felt invincible – no boy drama and no work drama could really touch me. Yet, some were not my blood type. Take away the parties and the hang-outs and what’s left is just circumstantial peer-pressured relationships.
The situation makes for awkward moments and surely involves some social maneuvering. But you are you and the friends you want to stick around will, precisely because of that. After you accept that, your circle will get narrower but also tighter.
4. The Lunch Partner from Your First Job
I have heard people say their first job was as exhilarating as falling in love for the first time. I would not go that far, but special? Sure. It is a rite of passage that changes our perception of responsibilities and success. Often people see co-workers at their first job as the cool kids group they need to fit in with. It’s easy to mistake good relationship with a co-worker with a budding friendship, especially when you spend the entire day together stuck in the same room. You go to lunch every day so you talk every day. Work conversations get personal and you both start to share. However, this all changes when either one moves on to the next employment. Yes, you promise to keep in touch, and yes, you keep up at it for a while. Then life starts going too fast. Without the daily routine of sharing, topics to talk about get too general. You always make plans to get together, but you know it’ll never happen.
You might feel you have lost your most recent friend, so something is certainly wrong. Are the days for socializing over?
No. It is possible to find great friends at work. You will also meet new people everywhere. I will too. We just need to remember that the grounds for a great friendship are never merely based on the time spent together or how close in proximity we are to one another.