What I’ve Learned About Friendship in my 30 Years

Why do we have friends?  They’re important, right?  Well, the truth is, psychologists haven’t really done much to actually give a decent answer on this.  Still, many seek to explain this phenomenon of deciding we like one person above another and then prioritizing them into our life. Carlin Flora, the author of Friendfluence, says there are many benefits to kickin’ it with those pal-o-mines.  According to Flora, friends direct our lives in a way.  Friends teach you things, persuade your actions, help prioritize your life, provide honest feedback, and generally make you happier.  Friends also open a lot of doors to other important people, like a connection for a job, or maybe a future spouse.

Friends can also devastate you; sometimes even more than say, an enemy at work, because you let that person in and trusted them and then they betrayed you.  Or sometimes we have friends that bleed us dry and don’t give anything in return.  Think about how hard it is to stick with someone like that; and if you’re staying in that relationship, you are likely miserable.  Honestly, friends are hard work!  Just like a marriage, you have to put in 110% if you want to be successful.

As I reflect back on my teens and through my 20’s, I can see so clearly how my comprehensive understanding of friendship has morphed quite a bit.  Just in these past couple of years, I’ve gained a lot of perspective and have had to accept some hard truths.  On the flip side, I’ve also learned how to be a way better friend and overall human.  So sit back and enjoy the ride — can’t guarantee it won’t be bumpy.

If you have five true friends in your lifetime, you are extremely lucky.  My grandfather used to say this, and now my uncle says it.  And they’re both so right.  In a lifetime, you will acquire a lot of “acquaintance” friendships, or even what I like to call, “temporary best friends.”  But not many will be your ride or die, true blue, bestest mensch.  This is the person you can’t live without.  The one you’re excited to call (er, I mean, text) when something incredible happens.  When you find one of these, hold onto them tightly and don’t let them go!  Treat them well.  Speak to them in their love language.  If you’re ever having problems, don’t give up.  Push through, and be the one to initiate fixing things.  Believe me, if at one point this person was worth the world to you, you will never regret fighting for them.

There’s something important in a childhood friend.  Do you ever go about your day and happen upon a scent that immediately takes you back to a fond childhood memory?  Isn’t that wonderful?  As children, we are innocent and look at the world in a different light.  Once you enter adulthood, you are forever changed and your youthful perspective is replaced with maturity and responsibility.  The bonds of friendship we create as children are not possible in adulthood.  Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the people I am closest with today come from a friendship I started in adulthood.  But there’s something really special to me about my childhood friends. So when you go off to college and want to reinvent yourself, don’t rid yourself completely of your hometown life.  And if you feel you’ve grown apart from these friends, I would recommend at least keeping in touch.

You get different things from different people, so accept your friends for who they are.  Friends can give you unique perspectives.  They surprise you.  They make you laugh.  They offer advice, listen when you need to cry, tell you when you’re being stupid, do the stupid things with you.  Friends truly are a gift and a treasure.  But it’s rare to find the whole-package-of-a-person that fills you up all the way.  When we find someone close to this, we marry them.  I’m not suggesting we necessarily need to lower our standards when it comes to who we hang with, but we need to be okay with having friends that satisfy different needs in our lives.  It’s great that you have your workout buddy, but don’t be disappointed when they don’t want to talk about Harry Potter for a couple hours while you sip your post-workout protein beverage.  Enjoy that person for what they bring to your life and find another friend who is into wizardry.  Instead of being disappointed in people, love them for who they are and let the rest go.

Friends come and go when you least expect it.  We lose friends for so many reasons.  Over time, we may grow in different directions and no longer have anything in common.  Sometimes people just stop putting in the effort.  Maybe life catches up to you and you lose touch.  Whatever the case may be, it’s typically a bummer.  What I’ve learned is that sometimes people come into our lives for a season, and then they’re gone.  Friendships don’t always last forever, and that’s okay.  Similarly, as quickly as you can lose a friend, you can gain one.  I recently made a new friend and it was basically love at first sight.  What’s funny is we’ve known of each other forever, but just never really talked much.  It has truly taught me to be more open and okay with letting people in.  You never know how many hidden gems are passing by you unless you actually talk to them.   

Forgive hard, and learn to let go.  Friends are going to hurt you.  I’m not going to lie, it stings.  All I can say is, forgive, forgive, forgive.  Move on.  Time heals.  Don’t cut people off unless you absolutely have to, but give yourself some reasonable distance if needed.  Never, under any circumstances, let a person harden you.  Focus on the positive relationships in your life, continue to love freely, and always make new friends.

Are you having friend trouble?  Contact me, and we’ll talk about it!

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