FAQs Re: Friendship In Your 20s

Q: Where did all of my friends go?

A: Your friends, unless they’ve all simultaneously died in some horrendous twist of fate, Final Destination-style (and my deepest condolences if this is the case), are still there. The thing to remember about human beings is that your relationship with them is only one of many aspects they have to consider on a daily basis — this becoming especially true when you reach an age where you’re no longer coddled by things like loan deferments and health insurance via your parents. Your friends are people who might need to, I don’t know, support themselves, move for employment opportunities, worry about their parents’ health, get laid occasionally, etc. So if it seems like your friends are fading away or forgetting about you, well… they might just be. But! This isn’t a problem. The problems arise when you take your friend’s distance as a personal affront. What you’re confusing with getting left behind is just growing up. Stop overthinking it and give them a call. Make plans. That’s how we do things now.

Q: Why are all of my friends getting married and having children before me?

A: Remember in your late teens and early 20s when your friends would get knocked up and you’d be like, HA-HA, sucker! Have fun milking your boobs while I hit ~da club~? Well, here’s your karmic payback: age appropriate people are tying the knot left and right and YOU’RE NOT ONE OF THEM. You’re single by force, or you’re not living with your partner, or you’ve been in the same relationship for ten years and there’s no sign that you’re ever, ever getting engaged. Meanwhile, your friends are doing insane things like wearing jewelry worth five months’ rent and owning freaking property. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but if you’re not in a stable relationship, you’re not allowed to ask this question: the answer is obvious. You don’t just get to join the forever-relationship club on your 28th birthday. It’s not a driver’s license or a navel ring. Just ’cause your friends get one doesn’t mean you get one, too. Anyone — single or not — waiting for their moment in the sun needs to remember that this isn’t how relationships with other people work. The sooner you figure this out, the sooner you’ll be the type of sane person someone actually wants to date for more than three months.

Q: Why is it so hard to make friends?

A: Because being passive is safe and comfortable. An anecdote (and no, I don’t have my friendshit together): I recently participated in a focus group about personal finance. There was a girl in my group, six years older than myself, who I almost immediately identified as my focus group friend (this is the person whose answers you anxiously await and then nod along with in agreement, the person with whom you bond, I guess). We had very similar experiences with money, which is something most friendships aren’t founded on, right? When you become friends with someone, you’re typically blind to their financial situation, and it’s only after you become close that you’re left to navigate the uncomfortable void between your histories with dat cheddar. But because of the nature of our meeting, I knew this could become a friend with whom I could talk openly about money without shame or awkwardness. I thought about how I might give her my number, even considered asking her to have drinks after the group wrapped up — instead, we took the same elevator down, said “bye” to one another, and walked our separate ways. The one who got away, har har. But really, she was. I had the opportunity to make a friend, one who could fill a role that is as yet uncast, and instead I let her walk away because I lost my balls and, hell… I have friends already so no big, right? It’s only as hard to make friends as it’s hard to put yourself out there… which I guess, at times, is pretty goddamn hard.

Q: My friend got swept up in their job/relationship and now they’re crawling back — what should I do?

A: A mature friendship encourages both parties to be their own person; as such, great friends allow you to guiltlessly make your own decisions. Sometimes those decisions are bad ones — like hibernating for months with someone you won’t end up with — but at the end of the day, real friends are not turned off by your ebb and flow; they recognize and accept that you’re a dynamic person who sometimes makes mistakes. BE THAT FRIEND. If you’re going to give someone the silent treatment or force them to ‘win’ your friendship back, well… what kind of friendship is that? You either want this person in your life or you don’t. If you do, don’t punish them or hold it against them when they want back in just to prove a point (but if you’re angered by their absence, get it off your chest immediately because that resentment makes you look fat). And if you don’t want them in your life anymore, say so. Either way, make a decision and move on with your life. Do you guys even know how many seasons of Real Housewives you missed watching together during the latest boyfriend k-hole?

Q: How do I meet people?

A: The truth is that we want to meet new people without getting to know the ones we’ve already met. We assume that our next great friendship — like our next great romance — will be immediately apparent to us, and anyone we meet in the meantime is just friend filler. We expect instant gratification because we’re confused about how friendship actually works; and instead of turning strangers into friends, we just collect them while we wait on our new bestie to appear from thin air. To fool ourselves into thinking we’re proactively building relationships, we use Fast Friendship — we add people on Facebook and pat ourselves on the back while thinking ‘new friendship level achieved,’ or something, and then we never contact the person again, and weeks later when we feel unfulfilled we blame the void on having not met enough new people while hundreds of unmet, unknown people sit in list format waiting to be asked to grab drinks or to ride bikes or to do whatever the hell it is people our age do with friends. You know how friendships have always historically formed? Before social networking, people became friends by hanging out and exerting effort. Writing letters. Making plans. Now we just press a button and expect the work to be done for us, and when it’s not, we think it’s because we need to meet new people. Focus on getting to know the people who are already your ‘friends’ — the person behind the profile picture has more to offer you than a ‘like’ on your status update.

Q: Can I hook up with my friends?

A: Yes. Just try not to hurt anybody (unless they ask you to). TC mark

All information provided in this article is for reference purposes only.


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  • http://www.itmakesmestronger.com/2012/08/faqs-re-friendship-in-your-20s/ Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com

    […] Thought Catalog » Life Add a comment […]

  • http://circlemeetsline.com Marisa Siegel

    Word of the day: Friendshit.

  • Chris X.

    “Because that resentment makes you look fat.” <– effective

  • http://www.orderlyrandomosity.wordpress.com Ritergurl

    Happy Friendship Day! :) http://wp.me/p1RlRY-57

  • http://testimonialcomic.com Nishant

    Stop calling everything “… for/in your 20s”. It only suggests you guys don’t have anything much to say and are just trying to get by jerking off one specific demographic.

    You HAVE noticed the absolute death of the comment threads, haven’t you?

    Two reasons: 1. Switching from DISQUS to whatever this is. 2. Writing formulaic, list like articles.

    Sure, you’ll get a lot of footfall, dumbing things down is the order of the day everywhere I see, but you guys were too cool to fall into that trap. So, from a sincere fan, please re-evaluate.

    • Llamaz

      I disagree. I don’t like all of the “list” articles, especially the ones that have one sentence for each bullet… but this wasn’t like that at all. I thought the FAQ idea was clever.

      • nishantjn

        Agreed. This one isn’t one of those. I just said this here because she’s my favourite writer and I give her a better shot at actually getting what I’m trying to say.

    • http://stephaniegeorgopulos.wordpress.com Stephanie Georgopulos

      I appreciate your response. I understand how the title must seem pandering, but I wouldn’t have added the ‘in your 20s’ if I didn’t feel or notice that these are problems that seem to be unique to this age group — people are moving away from friendships of convenience and toward a friendship model that includes things like personal responsibility and it’s frightening to some people. I initially decided to write this piece specifically because I hear a lot of people my age asking the same questions about their friendships as though they’re the one thing that is immune to change as we get older. I think the tone indicates my feelings which are that, your friendships aren’t totally fucked all of a sudden, you’re probably just thinking about them in terms of your younger self, which aren’t applicable anymore.

      I have oscillated between writing essays and lists for TC since I began about a year and a half ago, though I’m sure you know that because I recognize your name and know you’ve been reading for some time now. I appreciate you being on board for this long. I do miss Disqus, you are probably right about that.

      At the end of the day, I think it’s important to know that I choose what I write, whether it’s an essay or something more formulaic. Writing this often can get stale and I like to experiment with different formats. I hope you still can take something from the writing itself, even if you dislike the way it’s organized. I am definitely not moving away from essays or prose, it’s just nice (for me) to mix things up and write things down the way they play out in my brain. I used to feel like I had to stick to expressing myself one way, through humor or profundity or whatever, but like most people I’m a mixed bag and the way I write about things reflects that most of the time.

      Again, I appreciate you and your eyes and I hope this clears things up.


      • nishantjn

        Good to hear. :) Please don’t think that this is about this specific article. I can’t pass judgments on how you choose to develop as a writer, what things influence you and what creative phases you go through. That’s you, your journey and you’re entitled to it.

        I can only talk about what TC is doing based on what I see getting published. I sometimes didn’t care before if articles were biased or opinionated, because there were rich, incredible conversations in the comments. Now the standard of articles has fallen, and some other writers themselves say it’s because people prefer reading lists. That for me is the death-knell, you know. A writer taking orders from his audience! I wonder what would have happened if my (and your) favourite authors had chosen to do that in their lifetimes. Instead of lighting the way and taking people forward, you guys (seem to) turn around and says “We’ll do whatever you like, and say whatever makes you happy.”

        Look back through the comments of the past 40-50 articles. Count the no. of comments, then count the no. of intelligent, thoughtful comments (which I’m sure are the ones that matter to you as well). You should already know there’s been a huge fall in these numbers.

        So, not to you as a person, but to TC in general, maybe you guys should pick what you treasure more – someone really thinking about what you say here and wanting to start a conversation, or the rest of the comments you usually see everyday.

        I’ll try one of those – “Oh. My. God. It’s like you’re inside my head. This is so me. Especially the last one.”

        There you go. It’s easy. And I didn’t use my brain at all.

        Once again, thanks for your reply. :) I love your articles.

      • http://twitter.com/WordNerd Ethan (@WordNerd)

        I agree about missing DISQUS

        Seems like there’s less comments on Thought Catalog now, and the comments are less good

        I liked this piece though

    • Stacie

      What’s wrong with targeting just one demographic? Although they don’t specifically come out and say it, I’ve always been under the impression that TC was pretty much for people who are in that weird time in their lives between post-grad and finally having it all figured out, which is usually in their 20s.

      • JK

        Yeah that’s what I thought too. Sick of people whinging about list format articles. TC has been like ever since I’ve been reading it, so if people aren’t used it by now, why continue to read it?!

  • Stacie

    This was spot on for me! I had just graduated, moved to a new city and spent about a month freaking out about how hard it is for adults to make friends and having an “I’m so lonely” pity party. Then I finally realized number 5 and discovered that I already had about 3 people who were willing to hang out, I just had to make an effort. I’ve discovered that making friends in adulthood is sort of like dating. I feel like I’m in a female version of I Love You, Man.

  • Flo

    Sorry, but #3 is crap. You can force your number on as many potential friends as you like, if they’re not interested (which people who already have a group of 2+ friends frequently aren’t) then you don’t make new friends.

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