There are lots of types of friends you may have. There’s the friend you’ve had for years but only see every now and then, though when you do see them it is like you’ve never been apart. There’s a closer friend who you can spend all your time chatting non stop, or sitting with in silence, without any awkwardness. There’s the friend that when you’re together you have a laugh, but don’t really put in great effort to see one another. There’s the loyal friend that you know you can go to at any time for any reason and they’ll always be there to help you.
Many different types of friendships are healthy and you don’t necessarily need to live in each others pockets to have a positive relationship. However, there are friendships which can be toxic. Especially if you care a lot about others, it’s easy to be taken for granted. Whether it’s because you’re a convenient friend, generous with your money or very reliable. Others may use your traits (usually unknowingly, in most circumstances) to their advantage. Then there’s people who seem like great friends to you, but then will spread secrets, gossip about you behind your back or sneakily get with your ex.
It’s worth remembering the cliche that friendship is a two way street. If you’re putting your all into a relationship then it should be reciprocated. Investing emotional and physical effort into someone who does not want to know can be hurtful and quite frankly, a waste of your positive energy.
Learning whether someone is good for you or not to avoid staying in toxic friendships takes experience and can be difficult. Being honest with yourself is a good start. When you’re together do you actually have a fun time, do you enjoy each others company? Does this person make you feel bad about yourself or put you down? Is that friend only around when they want something? Would that person be there for you if you called at 4am in the morning needing help? Attaching yourself to negativity will unfortunately make you unhappy. It’s very dependent on the circumstances and a personal choice whether or not to cut these people out of your life completely.
Of course, as we get older friendships can become difficult. Everyone is different and people change. The person you really got on with at 14 may not be the someone you easily get along with now. As you move to adulthood, you will undoubtedly do something different to your friends. Maybe its going to university, starting a career or moving away from where you grew up. Changes such as these causes friendships to drift apart. Although looking back with nostalgia may make you feel sad, this is a natural progression. There’s nothing to say you can’t remake contact with your previous friends either (though it does take a little more effort sometimes!).
Furthermore, different people will be at different stages of their lives even if they’re the same age. The 23 year old married couple with children may not want to be clubbing on a Wednesday night with their 23 year old student friend. Similarly, the 23 year old student friend might find the prospect of a picnic and playtime in the woods a boring use of time. This may cause a drift in friendship which again, is completely normal.
An added thought – it’s also important not to limit yourself with what you’re willing to do because of what ‘label’ you fit under. For example, I have settled down in a long-term relationship, having lived with my partner for almost 5 years. It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy cocktails on a Friday night with my girls. Similarly I have friends with children, and even though we don’t, they haven’t fallen off the edge of the earth into the ‘mummy’s and daddy’s only’ club bubble. Do what makes you happy, with the people who make you happy, regardless of what society tells you what you should be doing.
As we age we find that the amount of friends we have grow smaller. When you’re not at school with lots of people, seeing your friends every day and making new friends all the time, when people drift apart these friendships aren’t replaced. That’s perfectly ok. In adulthood, the number of friends you have isn’t an indicator of your popularity. And most of us know it’s better to have a handful of good friends than hundreds of not so good friends.
To have a close best friend(s) I believe is one of the greatest gifts. True friends will stay by your side or try and make effort to come back into your life after drifting away for a while. They are hard to find and rare to have, so if you have someone like that in your life you are very lucky indeed. In the words of Thomas Aquinas – “There is nothing on this Earth to be more prized than true friendship”.