What’s in a Name? Exploring Adult Friendships: Part 2

28 Dec

Last week, I put friends into buckets. Today, I explore what makes up that coveted top-tier: the BFFs.

As previously discussed, adult BFFs are much different from your younger years. As a kid (I’m talking ages 5-12, give or take), BFFs are your posse on the playground. These are the same people who always get half your Twinkie (awww…RIP Twinkies). These are also the people who get invited to your birthday parties, sleepovers, and playdates.

In high school, BFFs were a tad different. High school was made for groups…the jocks, geeks, goths, populars, etc. It was easy to find BFFs in high school because you rolled with those most like-minded to you. This may seem obvious, as the goal of most high schoolers is to fit in. Why wouldn’t you want to hang with those who brought out the best in you? Otherwise, fitting a square peg into a round hole is pretty awkward (I can say this from experience, as I tried to fit myself into just about every group in high school. The benefit was I got along with everyone. The detriment? at 29, I still have no idea where I fit in).

As an adult, BFFs are more complicated. The unfortunate part of this statement is that the term “BFF” is static. It’s us (as humans) that get more complicated as we get older, thus, we inadvertently complicate friendships. It’s not our fault – as we mature and our lives change, our chemical makeup of things important to us changes. Instead of caring about who we share our snacks with, we want to know whose shoulder we can cry on or who we can trust when we need to vent. Additionally – and yes, I’m calling everyone out – as we age, we get more egotistical and hedonistic. It’s more about “me” and less about “you.” If you don’t believe me, think about it this way: as a kid, how many times did you get upset when someone didn’t ask about your day? Never, right? Or, what about be annoyed when a playdate changed? That’s pretty laughable, correct? I thought so.

All this preamble leads me to a list I like to call “BFF Mandatories.” Combine these mandatories with my buckets from last week and I’m pretty positive you’ll be looking at your friends in a different light.

Empathy: Empathy is the cornerstone of adult friendships. Your 20s and 30s are filled with unexpected events and you need friends willing to put themselves in your shoes, regardless if they’ve had the same experiences.

Support: Breakups. Moves. Job changes. Deaths. Adulthood kinda sucks, doesn’t it? That being said, when things go wrong, you need dependable people to help you pick up the pieces. You need people to sit with you while you cry, listen to you while you complain, or even simply smile and nod when you decide clown college is finally for you (it could happen).

Trust: As a kid, you gossiped about everything. The game of he said/she said was amazingly fun and made you feel super cool. As an adult, gossiping makes you pretty lame and in the eyes of others, untrustworthy. I truly believe you can’t get through life without at least a handful of people you can 100 percent trust. I’m not just talking secret-keeping, either. I’m talking about life’s most rock-bottom moments they’ve seen, yet will never reveal. Instead of judging you, they coach you through it. They either help you avoid making the same mistake twice or encourage you to follow your heart. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Loyalty: This factor is the one stand-out that carries over from childhood. Remember how you use to choose sides during a playground fight? Same rules apply here: as an adult, you must choose sides. Playing neutral doesn’t fly anymore. Before you all think I sound harsh, hear me out: How often are you angry with your friends that are wishy-washy or play politician? Or, how often are you upset when your now-enemy was invited to party of a (now) mutual friend? There is comfort in knowing someone will always be on your side and as adults, usually these sides are pretty clear-cut. Your BFFs will never waiver from your side.

Flexibility: Between jobs, families, events, exercise, and other responsibilities, life is pretty unpredictable. Making plans is great because it means you have a set date on the calendar. It also means that person is important enough to you to plan something in advance. However, sometimes life get in the way of these plans and cancellations are necessary. Further – and let’s be really honest – sometimes we have 100 percent intention of being somewhere, but are so tired/sick/whatever, we won’t be our best if we go. Therefore, we opt to reschedule. Those closest to us – that know us well – understand and don’t make a huge deal out of it. In turn, we understand when they cancel on us at the last-minute. HUGE disclaimer – if this happens all the time, you may want to reexamine the friendship…once in awhile is OK, but if it’s a consistent problem, it needs to be addressed.

Respect: Your time. Your feelings. Your beliefs. Your good days. Your bad days. Your differences. Your opinions. Your advice. Your efforts. Other people in your life. Did I mention feelings? If your supposed BFFs break any of the above, you need to make a friendship 911 call. Stat.

What other qualities make up an adult BFF? Do you agree with this list? I’d love to hear from you. Comment away.

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