Student Life

I Learned The Surprising Truth About Friendships

Ask anyone: making and maintaining friendships as an adult is harder than it looks. As we navigate our way through university, we will inevitably abandon old friends, make new friends, and strengthen existing ones. We will learn and unlearn who “our people” are by sorting the genuine ones from the not-so-genuine ones. Friendships will come and friendships will go — and all that will be left is a core group of people you can count and rely on. Trying to understand and comprehend the complexities of adult friendships can be a tricky. Over the years, I’ve realized some hard-hitting truths required to keep friendships strong, healthy, and alive. Here are my friendship takeaways:

 

1. Don’t prioritize your party friends over your real friends.

Now, I’m not saying your real friends can’t also be party friends (and vice versa) but sometimes they aren’t. And if they aren’t, you need to evaluate whether you’re prioritizing one over the other.

Party friends make for wild ‘you’ll-never-believe-what-happened-last-night’ stories, but life isn’t always about having wild adventures. When life throws you a curve ball (which it inevitably will), are there people in your life who will catch you when you fall?

Life gets tough, and if the only friends you have are the ones that message you at 10pm to ask you, “What’s happening tonight?” you might find yourself rather lonely down the road. Foster deep friendships that are based on more than just “partying together”. You’ll be glad you did.

 

2. Friendships don’t have to be all-or-nothing. You can value your close friends while appreciating your distant friends.

Like bodies, friendships come in all shapes and sizes. There’s no formal manual as to what a friendship looks like (and everyone’s definition of a friend varies). You should appreciate the diversity of friendships you have and strengthen that ones you value most.

I used to be someone who was very black-and-white about my friendships. You were either my friend or you weren’t. I realize now that there are all kinds of friendship. It’s okay to have situational friends, momentary friendships, and ‘only-if-we-find-ourselves-at-the-same-party’ kind of friends. Realistically, people won’t value friendships the same way you do but that doesn’t mean you can’t value what it is you do share together.

 

3. You are perfectly valid in cutting toxic people out of your life (and not feel guilty about it). 

There are many ways a friend can be toxic, ranging from the way they treat others to the way they treat you. When you’ve been friends with someone for a long time, it can be difficult to cut ties even if you know, deep down, it’s the right thing to do. You shouldn’t feel obligated to be friends with someone just because you’ve been friends with them forever. Breaking up with friends is tough, but it’ll feel like a huge weight lifted off shoulders when you do. With time, you’ll get better at picking your friends (and removing the ones that aren’t).

 

4. Friendships can dissolve and end amicably. 

People change. In fact, it would be peculiar if they didn’t. Some people grow together while others grow apart. Ending a friendship doesn’t have to be a dramatic ordeal; it can look like two people going their separate ways and wishing each other well. Friendships fizzle out and end mutually, and that’s just the way life goes.

 

5. If your friend did something that bothered you, speak up. Communication is key to making a friendship last. 

Friendships are not without their share of hard work. Your friend will say things that will hurt, and you will say things that will hurt them. Over time, you will become a stronger communicator by letting your friends know if they did something that bothered you. As an adult, you realize letting resentment build and anger fester is a waste of time. Most friendship issues can be resolved by simply talking to one another and being open and honest.

 

6. Your friends being busy won’t be a big deal. 

Between everything university students juggle, it’s easy to forget to text back or reschedule a hangout. Before you accuse your friends of being flakey, give them some space (and time) to reach out. The older you get, the more accepting you are that other aspects of your friend’s life will be prioritized first. Your 20s are a time to be a little selfish. Don’t take it personally if your friend is busy making their dream a reality (within reason, of course). If the relationship is feeling one-sided, that’s when you need to step up and communicate your feelings.

 

7. Hangouts and catch-ups are rarely spontaneous. If you don’t fit your friends into your schedule, you won’t see them. 

Don’t be too busy for your friends! If you don’t set aside time to hang out with your friends and be involved in their life, weeks/months/years will pass by faster than you can say Jack Robinson. One day, you will wake up and realize that their life no longer involves you. Friendships are fluid in the sense that they can be as high and low maintenance as it needs to be. You may have a mutual understanding that no-contact for several weeks or even months is not a sign of a deteriorating friendship, but friendships can easily slip through the cracks if it goes unchecked for too long. If someone means a lot to you, make time for them. Give them a call.


What are some truths you learned about adult friendships? Let us know and share your friendship advice.

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Jessica Huynh is in her final year of Creative Industries, specializing in Storytelling in Media and Curatorial Practices. / iamjessicahuynh.com