As I grow older, the one thing that becomes increasingly apparent is how hard friendships are. Back in high school, you were most likely friends with the people you were friends with because you had some, if not all, of your classes together. But then you all moved away for college and grew apart. Then the cycle repeats: friends in college, new class schedule/transfers/graduations, and you grow apart from your friends again.
Now obviously, I still have friends from high school and I still have friends from my first few years of college, and I'm sure you do, too. But overall, friendships are incredibly difficult to maintain. You will grow away from people you once considered close and people that you didn't consider at all will become your best friends. Hey, that's just the way that it goes.
When I look back on my friendships that didn't make it, a few things come to mind as to why they ended like they did: communication (or lack thereof), validation, and effort.
Communication | Perhaps the hardest of the three, communication is definitely the most difficult part in any relationship. Raise your hand if you've ever felt intimidated when you had to send a text to a friend, and were unsure of how they might respond? (Yeah, same. Red flag.) Or when you felt like your words were being heard, but you weren't actually being listened to? (Same, again! Red. Flag.) I'm no master of communication, and I'm definitely learning as I go along, but good communication is key. Something I have learned along the way that has significantly improved my communication skills with the people in my life is learning to use "I feel" statements in difficult conversations. It's so easy to be in a fight with a friend or roommate and say, "Well YOU never unload the dishwasher and I've done it every week for the past few months and I'm tired of that kind of attitude!" When you could say instead, "I just feel like I'm doing a majority of the chores, and it would be nice if we could all chip in around the house sometimes." Automatically it becomes a less aggressive statement, and no blame has been placed on one person in particular.
Validation | In a world where people (hello, me) judge their worth on how many Instagram likes they get, in-person validation from trusted friends matter so much more. (Heck, even comments from friends on said-Instagram posts go a long way in my book!) I recently was in a situation where I had to make a choice of keeping toxic friends in my life, or letting them go, and the thing that made my decision so much easier was when I realized that they never said anything positive about me, but expected me to praise them daily. Um, HELLO. Don't expect to receive if you don't give! Now that those friends aren't in my life anymore, I find myself surrounded by genuine friends who jump up and down with me when something positive happens, who read this blog every day (hi guys), and who - most importantly - help me pick myself back up when I'm feeling incredibly low. I guess, in short, love on your friends with every opportunity that you get. It is so so so important.
Effort | This is probably what I struggle with the most when it comes to friendships. For a while this past year, I really felt like I was the only one putting effort into almost all of my friendships. I would text first, make the plans, etc. I was obviously so excited for the friendship that I didn't even realize just how burnt out I felt from it. A few times after making plans and having this friend cancel on me at the last minute, I took a step back and looked at it. This relationship was so toxic. I was putting in 100% and getting 0% in return. That's not friendship, it hurts and makes you feel horrible about yourself when you did nothing wrong in the first place! If you want to be friends with someone, commit to the relationship and put just as much effort into it as you would want returned to you. If your effort isn't returned, then maybe it's time to move on. It sucks, and it's the worst feeling in the world, but a one-sided relationship with one person just isn't worth the stress.
Now, I'm not a relationship expert. I'm learning and growing as I move on from these toxic friendships. I would be nothing without the people I'm lucky enough to call my friends, and I hope you feel the same way about yours!
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