The friendships I made in my late teens and early twenties were fiery, intense, and always a breakup or make up away. For the longest while, I thought that’s what close friendships had to look like.
I believed that my people were those who had seen the worst of me. Who saw me ugly crying while making decisions I’d regret, drunk calling the toxic ex who broke my spirit, and walking out of every good thing life put before me towards all the wrong people and places. I used to think that the amount of messiness the relationship could handle was directly proportional to how strong it was.
But in my late twenties, my friendships look different. Initially, I thought that these were not as real. But recently, I realized that the relations I have today mirror the person I’ve spent the past half decade working tirelessly to become.
They’re calmer, softer, kinder, and more sober. But they are every bit as real and mighty as my older relations and are still present to hold me through every decision (good and bad!) I make.
If you’re growing into more emotionally intelligent, secure, and healthy friendships too, chances are yours look a lot like this.
1. You don’t talk every day, but you remain well informed about each other’s lives.
2. You aren’t stressed about whether or not you are in touch.
3. You respect each other’s time and are mentally and emotionally present with each other when together.
4. You lift each other up often and make a conscious effort to let the other know how proud you are of them.
5. You are cognizant of how much you give and take in a friendship and understand that emotional labor is energy consuming.
6. You fully understand the need for boundaries. You respect them, not out of fear but because you know that’s how a good relationship works.
7. You aren’t always there to witness each other’s victories and celebrations, but that doesn’t determine what you mean to each other.
8. Sometimes you have to schedule in time for each other on your calendar, and that’s alright. It means you don’t take each other for granted.
9. You respect each other’s romantic relationships and make room for your friend’s significant other in your life.
10. You understand that you may not always be each other’s top priority, but know that you are still a big priority.
11. You make it a point to share the small things as much as the big ones—the shows you are watching, the books you just read, and the latest gossip. You know how much the little things mean.
12. You know that just like any relationship, friendship requires nurture and care. You tend to it regularly.
13. You don’t force each other into going places or doing things the other doesn’t want to. You’ve learned to meet each other halfway.
14. You know when you have to put aside everything and show up, and you’ll be there when it counts.
15. You don’t box each other up. You hold room for who you are each becoming and take time to get to know the other every once in a while.
16. You each know how to effectively communicate your fears and worries about your friendship and how to listen and step up your friend game when needed.
17. You can call each other out with love when needed, even if it’s a bit uncomfortable. You know you aren’t being judged and your friendship is a safe space.
18. You understand that people need space from each other at times. You don’t think too much of it.
19. Your friendship with each other is not defined by how your last meeting felt. You know each other beyond a bad mood or rough day.
20. You mean what you say so you always find the kindest way to say it.
21. You trust each other, in words and in silence.
22. You understand that right now is more important than forever—you take it one day at a time.
23. You respect each other’s friendships with others, even when they sometimes make you jealous.
24. You know what makes each other feel seen and will always find a way to do it.
25. You don’t play games when you are angry with each other or take cheap shots at the other when you are annoyed.
26. You understand that you can’t change each other’s lives or fix each other’s pain. But you will be there to listen and help in every way possible.
27. You each know that you have a unique brand of friendship with every person in your life that adds to your journey in its own way. You don’t compare them with each other but celebrate them exactly as they are.