Having solid friendships in your twenties is so important as it is a decade of new exciting challenges. Whether it is starting a new career, travelling the world, finding Mr Right or finding your own voice you will need some solid friendships in your twenties to get you through it all.
But how do you keep the friendship spark alive, how do you know when to let go of friends that seem to be out of convenience over value, or knowing where to make new friends? I have put together this guide from my own experiences of long distance friendships to making new friends in a new city as well as other ups and downs in the friendship world. As always, I would love to hear any tips you have or if you have any questions just leave me a comment below.
When you Might Need a Friendship Break-up
We have all heard the phrase “friends can be toxic” - I feel this use of language a little strong, let’s go for, “no longer supporting my choice of life path” instead. Here are some of the things to look out for when you might need to break up with a friendship:
You do all the work – you are always starting the communication first or the one to suggest making plans. For me, this does tend to be my role which I don’t mind if it is recipicated at least from time to time. Sometimes it is just in people’s characters but it should never be 100% one sided.
They lower your self-esteem – this is literally the opposite of what a friend should be doing. If it is a case of using insults as “jokes”, surfacing your insecurities and generally making you feel bad about yourself, it might be time to give your friendship a rethink.
They are unimpressed by your achievements – being in your twenties is all about facing new challenges and you need a good network of support to get you through them. Whether your achievement is getting some positive feedback from your manager or taking a small step to get over anxiety – if it’s important to you it should be important to your friends too.
You need alcohol to hang out – university days are gone and the need for just drinking buddies is long over. If you find yourself only hanging out at a bar or a nightclub it might be worth testing out a day date to see what substance lies within the friendship.
Keeping your Friendships in Check
So what about those friendships you want to strengthen. Friendships are like any relationship, they take commitment and effort.
Extra effort to make plans - you no longer see your friends everyday like you did in high school so extra effort is essential for a long lasting friendship. Plan ahead and set some dates aside in the diary. Especially if you are in relationship it is easy to have a night in with your partner, if you find yourself doing this more often than not, it is time to prioritise a friendship date instead.
Branch away from the crowd – it is easy to sometimes find yourself meeting up with friends in a group situation all the time. Make effort to meet up with friends on a one to one basis to form a deeper connection with that person. Go to an event, try out a new class or meet up for a long walk– try spicing it up rather than meeting for coffee or a drink all the time. Not only do romantic relationships need excitement and variety, friendships do too!
Comprises and sacrifices – similar to my point of whatever is important to them should be important to you too. This goes for having fun too, if your best friend wants to do karaoke for their birthday and you can't think of anything worse, you should be putting the next tune on the machine anyway and be encouraging everyone to do the same (thanks Kate).
Unconditional love vs unconditional approval – these can be easily confused. If you don’t agree with a friend’s choices, tell them. Give advice and be upfront about your disagreement. This doesn’t mean you love them any less and this honesty will be a lot more appreciated in the long run.
Letting go of friendships can be difficult for everyone, especially if these friendships have been a major part of your life for a long time. But with all the changes happening in your twenties it is natural that some people no longer quite fit into the life direction you have chosen. Maintaining friendships can be difficult too but with a little extra effort and gratitude for the quality friendships you have, you will soon learn the ones that fit and the ones that are worth sticking around for.
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