I’ve made and lost friends over the years. I’m sure we all have. All my experiences have led me to better understand the kind of friend that I am and the kind of friends that I want to have. Today’s post is all about challenging the expectations we have about how friendships are going to be and accepting the ways that they often are. People are complicated, so nothing is ever straightforward, and that’s totally okay.
Expectation #1 : We’re going to be friends forever!
Reality: The good news is that this is actually possible, but it doesn’t just happen. People change, so in order to stay friends with someone for a long time, you have to be able to grow together through the different experiences you’ll face. If you don’t have a strong foundation in your friendship – one that’s built on mutual respect, understanding and values – your friendship will inevitably dissolve. But don’t worry, because that’s a normal thing too. No matter how awful ending a friendship feels, sometimes it’s for the best. We might just be making room for the people who are supposed to be in our lives for the long-haul.
Expectation #2: The first person you click with will be your best friend.
Reality: Sometimes, we’re lucky, and we meet our best friends right off the bat. (We all know those people who’ve been friends since the womb and who don’t seem to be changing their tune). Other times, we meet people with whom our energies initially reverberate but the spark slowly begins to fade. We make friends, realize that we aren’t as compatible as we thought and then have to reset and start again with making new ones. This is all a part of life. Because we’re all human and nothing about us is straightforward, friendships tend to be a lot about trial and error. Don’t give up just because one of your initially strong friendships is unable to stand the test of time. There are so many people in this world and you never know where your next true friend is hiding.
Expectation #3: Now that we’re friends, we’re only going to spend time with each other!
Reality: Even best friends need time apart. It’s important to have other friends and to find people with whom you enjoy doing different things. Disney movies always made it seem like your friend group of three was sufficient for social interactions. It’s not. lol. My best friend is my rock, but I also have other amazing friends to get food with, to study with, to be creative with and to just pass the time with. It’s important to be independent enough to be able to survive in the event that your friend isn’t able to spend time with you. It’s all about balance.
Expectation #4: Friendship is easy.
Reality: Friendship – like any other relationship – is hard, and it takes dedication and work. In a friendship, you’re taking two individuals and trying to form one connection. These two people are more than likely to have different personalities, histories and behaviors. That’s why we need to take the time to understand our friends. How do they prefer to be loved? What things matter most to them? What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? Am I able to accept them for who they are and not what I think they could be? Friendships require a lot of empathy and the ability to be selfless. But this has to be reciprocal. It’s not fair for either of you to put in 100% when the other person is only putting in 20%. No one should be the sole carrier of the relationship. Friendships in which you can both have flaws but encourage each other to pinpoint them and address them are some of the best. When you’re able to openly communicate who you are and how you feel with a friend, and when they can do the same, you’re setting up the foundation needed for a strong relationship.
Sometimes friendships work out and sometimes they don’t. At times, we find that we need to simply readjust our boundaries in a friendship in order to make it successful. When you find the people with whom you can be free and with whom you can love freely, work hard to keep them around. You’ll be challenged in your relationships and you’ll occasionally contemplate living a life of solitude, but trust me, it’s all worth it in the end. Good friends, no matter how many or how few you have, are priceless.