10 Things My Adult Friendships Taught Me

You don't have to relate to connect.

Making new friends as an adult can be difficult. For one, you probably can't rely on lunch periods or dorm rooms to keep the connection strong — you actually have to make an effort to keep in touch.

Finding people to even attempt a friendship with can also be a hassle, mostly because as grown ups we meet each other in professional and recreational settings, and it can be awkward gauging whether or not a potential BFF wants to expand the extent of the relationship.  While it's tough finding your squad in adult-land, it's worth the search once you do. For me, the lessons along the way have changed my perspective on friendships and myself. 

Here are ten things my adult friendships taught me. 


1.You don’t have to relate to connect.

When high school friends became just Facebook friends, and college pals drifted away, I found myself submerged in loneliness. I no longer had the safe and familiar places of a classroom and neighborhood to find new friends, yet that unknown space introduced me to some of the most brilliant people I've ever met. As you get older, you'll find that your friends won't always be the same age as you, or have your same experiences, but somehow you still connect. Mature friendships are based on more than just surface similarities. 

2. Honesty shouldn’t be scary.

In my younger years, I remember being so afraid of hurting other people's feelings — even if I ended up hurting my own. I was never the one to admit when I was disappointed, upset, or uncomfortable because I feared, if I did, my friends would stop liking me. In the end, that fear actually hurt my friendships. My lack of honesty led to resentment and misunderstandings that could've easily been avoided.  I've found there is real growth when you are comfortable enough to be honest with your friends and know that they will still love you anyway. 

3. Admit when you are wrong.

If you let your ego tell it, you're always right and everyone else is wrong! But in reality, you're not perfect. In the past, I've let pride get in the way of my relationships. Part of growing up means being secure and honest with yourself. 

4. Every friendship serves a purpose.

As I get older, I realize I have quite a few scattered friend groups, but each one is special in its own way. Not everyone can give you what you need, the same way you can't be everything to everyone. Some friendships are great for personal growth, while others are wonderful for creative growth. There are friends who are mentors and will always offer great professional advice and then there are friends who will indulge in nerdy obsessions with you. If you're lucky, you probably can find a few combos in one.

5. You don’t always have to grow closer.

One of the most peculiar things I've learned about adult friendships is that you can build meaningful connections with people you probably won't ever be really close with. Growing up is realizing that not everything has to evolve into the highest possibility. Even if the extent of a friendship is just random coffee dates every once in awhile, it's not a poor reflection of the relationship. It is possible to have life-long friendly associates who are great company. 

6. It’s OK to end things.

One of the hardest lessons I've had to learn in my 20s is that not all friendships are built to last.  BFF break-ups are real and  are so painful! Whether the two of you grew out of each other, or issues become irreconcilable, it it fine to let it go. 

7. You won’t always be at the same stage in life.

My closest friends are married, parents, single, childless, older, younger, and everything that I am and am not. Back in my younger days, my friends were just like me, and went through the very same things I was going through. Now, I have friends who are at all different stages of life. Especially in your 20s, it is really easy to find yourself comparing yourself to your friends and their progress, but you have to remember, we all have different starting points, different end goals, and our own unique path. My friendships have given me new perspectives on love, life, career, and personal growth.

8. Hanging out is all about quality, not quantity.

Perhaps the most cliche lesson I've learned about adult friendships is that quality triumphs quantity, every time.  Life gets so busy and before you know it, you haven't seen your friends in nearly two months! Making the effort for quality time is actually better than stretching yourself thin for quick get-togethers. 

9. Just Listen.

Thinking back to my teen years, I remember A LOT of bad advice being shared among my friends and I. To be fair, we were so young and we practically lived the same experience, so we gave the best advice we could. As an adult, you'll find your friends will have issues you've never experienced. The best thing you can do is just listen. 

10. You are someone's friend too.

It is very easy to be me-centered when it comes to friendships. It's human nature to think about your concerns and feelings in regards to a friendship. While that is healthy and great practice for self-care, consider that you are also a friend to another person. How are they feeling? How are you affecting their life? This consideration has helped me realize my own faults, be more forgiving of my friends' shortcomings, and become a better friend. 

Cover image via Shutterstock.


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