After reviewing my New Years Resolutions in July I realized that I was having a hard time with my goal to “Be a Good Friend.” I was certain that if I just sat down and thought about this topic for an hour or so, I would be able to pinpoint the trouble and fix this goal. These are some of my thoughts on friendship in adulthood.
Good Friends I’ve Had:
I follow along with the blog MWF seeking BFF and the premise of the blog and the honest writing style really resonate with me. A recent post of hers linked to an article from Self Magazine that reassures me that a shrinking friend circle is normal for you as you grow older. It also highlights some of the benefits of having many friends to fit different roles in your life.
I’ve really enjoyed having athletic friends to run races with, creative friends to see life in a new way, reading friends to talk about books… and plenty of others. But one thing that I’ve noticed over the last two years is that I’ve tried to cut back on how many “niche” friends I’ve had and just went with the “well rounded” type of friends. It’s hard to hang out with people individually (especially with a family) and it makes more sense to multitask by hanging out with groups of people or hanging out with one or two friends that fit a lot of categories. So I need to focus on being a good friend to these few people.
Two pieces of Good Advice on Friendship:
I also remembered two really good pieces of advice I was given about five years ago about friendship that can help you redefine your ideas of what friendship might mean.
1) You can’t always have meaningful conversations – A relationship can get pretty strained if you want to have soul baring vulnerable conversations about your innermost thoughts and feelings every time you get together. You’ve got to balance out those deep conversations with stuff at least sometimes.
2) It’s hard to be friends if you’re always catching up – You need to have friends that you see or talk to a lot: that is, you aren’t always filling them in on the last three months of your life, or why exactly you chose to take the new job offer. They’ve been along with you for the whole angsty period of your current job slowly souring on you, or your increasing dissatisfaction with the tasks, or your new passion for another field. But you don’t need to be attached at the hip anymore as an adult, to still be friends with someone.
What my Nutritionist Taught me About Friendship
It’s important to have a balanced diet of friends. Work friends, Church friends, Mom friends, Old College Friends…etc. But just like any balanced diet there are actually a few powerhouse foods that we count on day in and day out. Most days you’ll find me eating wheat bread, cheese, tomato (in some form), eggs, and coffee. And, actually, most people who are successful with their diets don’t vary their foods up too much – that creates uncertainty and uncertainty makes people uncomfortable and stressed, which, well, leads to eating more. So, even though I agree that I need a balanced diet of friends, I think it’s probably find for me to pull on the same few people over and over again and not create stress running after a dozen different friends.
My nutritionist also told me, If you’re okay with what you’re doing, it’s okay to keep doing it. Just because the latest research might say that you should live carb free, only eat dessert on alternate Sundays and give up diet soda – you don’t have to. If you’re living a moderately healthy lifestyle and you have only a “few” bad habits, you don’t have to change them now. Maybe you will in the future.
As for how this relates to friendship – as long as I continue to keep in contact with the friends I do have and enjoy, and make new ones occasionally – it’s okay if I don’t have women who I do “girls night out” with, and it’s okay if I don’t have people to go on vacation with to summer houses in the Poconoes. Even if really really envy other people who do that.
So, what does friendship look like for me as an adult
So, it turned out I was using an old definition of friendship from my pre-baby, pre-marriage, pre-adulthood days. This definition went something like – if I’m going to have friends I need to see them at least five days a week, talk on the phone, and pour my heart out to them at least monthly. (Hello College Roommate!) No wonder I was getting cognitive dissonance about how well I was doing on my goal.
I think a Good Friend:
Knows what her friends need – coffee, a meal, an idea, a pat on the back, a hug, advice, space.
Provides a listening ear
Keeps in contact through social media like blogs and facebook
And a good rule of thumb for me:
I need to see women friends at least 4 out of 7 days a week, or I’ll go crazy.
There’s still a lot more I want to discover about friendship, but I think this is a good place to start for now.