Growing up, I always had a ton of girl friends in a variety of different groups. And while those girls seemed to always stay incredibly close, I jumped around groups a lot, questioned their motives (and sometimes my own), and always somehow only had a few really close friends that I've kept over the years.
Still, at almost 27 years old, the idea of close friendships has often plagued me.
At this stage in my life, with all of the experiences I've accumulated over the years, friendships lost, gained, and maintained - there are a few key things I've learned that I wanted to share with everyone that I think are super important to remember, and necessary to know to be able to move on and grow as a better person, and ultimately, a better friend.
The 10 Things You Need to Know About Friendship
1. Stop Comparing
It is so hard to not compare yourself to your friends, or to other women in general. Their boyfriend buys them more gifts, they have straighter hair, skinnier arms, less body fat, more designer bags, no bags under their eyes.
Whatever it may be, there will always be room for comparison, always. This is the hardest aspect to look past. Getting on the bus you can be feeling great about yourself, see someone else step on and suddenly feel terrible about yourself.
The most important thing to remember about comparisons, is that they do not suit you. I have read this in daily mantras time and time again. If it does not suit you, let it go and let it be. You are you, you will never be that other person, and they will never be you. What you look like, who you are, and the experiences you have and the people you are around is all a part of your larger story. Everyone's will always be different. SUPPORT your girlfriend's stories, share in them, build them up, and all the while it will make you feel so much better, I promise. I work on this every day, but I can tell it's making me a better person and a better friend.
2. Stop Assuming the Worst
This is something I have done since I was super young, because I felt that I always got the short end of the stick on friendships. I'd put in so much time and effort, only to feel betrayed, let down, or heart broken when things got tough.
Every situation that would arise, I would just assume it was out of spite, or because they were trying to put me down. Don't get me wrong, sometimes I was right, but most of the time I was making assumptions that weren't even there in the first time, objecting myself to so many questions and hurt that was unnecessary.
If someone is your friend, a good friend, they will never (hopefully) do something to purposely upset you, or make you feel bad. Some will, but that is on you if you want to remain friends with someone like that.
Don't assume the worst in people. We just don't know what is happening in other peoples lives. Always assume that the motives are good, and if you think that way, it just might work out that way.
3. Put in Some Effort
As I grew up, experienced loss of friendships, I became nervous to put in any effort with girl friends because I was afraid that they wouldn't reciprocate it, or that I'd end up looking desperate and needy.
There's a fine line between acting desperate in a friendship, and simply making an effort to show the other person that although it's been a long time, you care about them and you want to see them. How are they? What's happening in life that you haven't been around for?
Put in the effort to try and see your friends, and be reciprocative when they do the same to you.
4. Someone Will Always be a Better Friend to You Than You are to Them, And You Will Always be a Better Friend to Someone Than They are to You
This is just a matter of life. I have friends that I know in my heart are better friends to me than I have ever been to them. And I know that I have friends in my life that I am absolutely a better friend to than they are to me.
But that's just the process of friendships. It doesn't make you a bad person, and it doesn't make the other person needy, be appreciative for each type of friend, and know that you can't be that person to EVERY friend, and you shouldn't be expecting the same from every friend you have.
5. Lower Your Expectations
I really mean this in the best way!
I have an expectation problem. I will do anything for my friends, and I often expect the same thing in return. The reality is, often-times they won't do anything for you, but what's convenient will work out.
You need to be aware that that does not mean they love you any less, that is just how some people are. See number 4 above. Lower your expectations, don't expect the same of someone that you'd whole heartedly provide to them, because you'll just feel let down.
Go with the flow, always assume the best, and carry on.
6. Be Present
Be present with your relationships. Focusing on the past or looking back at what has happened before you got to this place will not get you anywhere. It will open old wounds, and it likely always results in a fight. Unless you're talking about great memories, then by all means - keep that up! The main thing here, you have to let go of what has happened in the past. You will change, your friends will change. Have they done something to hurt you and now you're close? Respect and understand the person for where they are NOW, not where they were at then. We change a lot, and hopefully they've grown.
7. Be Honest
This one seems like a no-brainer, but being honest with your friends is so important. I hate when I ask someone if they want to do something with me and I can a canned response that doesn't feel genuine.
Tell me if you want a night-in to wear sweats and eat ice cream, I might just join you! Don't beat around the bush to get out of a prior engagement either. Tell your friend, "shit, I forgot about our plans and now have others - can I take you to brunch Sunday instead?" Often times you'll be met with a positive response.
At this age, what's the point in lying to our closest friends? I won't be mad at you for feeling bloated and not wanting to zip your jeans. I would expect the same from you.
8. Give up Bad Friendships
I'm sure we've all been here, you've been friends for too long, they know too much, you've been through too much - how can you just throw in the towel now?
If your relationship brings you more heart ache, disappointment, tears, frustration, or anxiety than it does happiness - it's time to give it up. Nothing you do will likely ever be enough, and they won't be able to fulfill the role they once played for you. That's a harmful cycle that won't allow you to move forward and be the best person you can be.
If there is less positive and more negative in your friendship, it's time to simply let it go and remember the great times you had together. There's always a chance you could connect down the road.
9. Accept Your Differences
You won't always think the same, dress the same, feel the same, react the same, or provide the same advice. That's OK. You're different.
What's not OK is when your friends won't accept the way you think, feel and act - and instead use that against you as another reason why you're "not good enough the way you are" as a tactic to build up their own self-esteem.
You don't have to see eye to eye, and your advice to other mutual friends might not be the same, but follow your heart and don't feel dissuaded about your beliefs and values.
If the other person's don't match yours that's absolutely fine, but if they don't respect yours, they probably don't have the right values and beliefs in their life right now, and might not be the best people to have around.
10. Do Everything You Can to Keep the Good Friends
Like I said above, there will always be friends that give more to you than you give to them, and vice versa. Work to keep those relationships strong. Acknowledge you've been absent for a while and express how much they mean to you. Even a short text means a lot, "Miss you! Can we get together soon?" Just follow through.