Finding Friendship in the Real World
Beginning a friendship when you were a child was relatively stress-free. All you had to do was sit next to a new person at the lunch table, realize you both loved the color purple, despised bologna and cheese and voila you were on your way to sharing your deepest darkest secrets (okay, maybe just sharing your secret crush for the day and a fruit roll-up). Throughout the first part of most everyone’s lives finding friends is easy, but once you embark on adulthood developing meaningful friendships that make you happy and nourish your spirit can seem virtually impossible.
Why Is It So Hard to Develop Adult Friendships?
Once we enter adulthood there are a number of competing factors that make it increasingly challenging to cultivate meaningful relationships. Between juggling career expectations, dealing with unexpected relocations, managing relationships with significant others, and raising kids, it can be exhausting to even think about putting yourself out there to find friendship.
The truth is that finding friends in adulthood is a lot like dating. It is a trial and error process that is sometimes fun, but mostly disappointing as your realize that the special someone you can count on for a weekly girls’ night out and meaningless texts throughout the day is not as easy as it looks. And, let’s be honest, once you are a bona fide adult you really don’t have time to just hang out with a group of maybe-friends. You have better things to do with your time.
Female Friendships Are Important
Regardless of how agonizing it may be to foster female friendships, and how lonely it can feel at times when you have gone on too many “friendship dates” with the wrong person, it is important to keep searching. Female friendships allow us to let our guard down and be ourselves -to express ourselves in ways that we may not feel comfortable doing so in front of our significant other, family members, and co-workers.
They help us develop our identities as we change and grow, but most importantly they accept us for who we are – bad hair days and all. These friendships provide support, reduce stress, and offer encouragement when we need it the most. They essentially create the foundation that all of our other relationships are built on.
Take Note – Create a Personal Inventory
Once you no longer have a built-in social group like you did during high school or college, finding friendship requires a bit of personal reflection. It is very easy as our daily agendas become cluttered with obligations to lower our standards. To accept people into our lives that may not bring out the best in us
just so we feel a little less lonely when the kids are asleep, the work day has ended, or your significant other is otherwise occupied.
This is why it is important to take a personal inventory of what qualities in a female friendship are absolutely non-negotiable. When you find yourself without that certain someone in your life, take a breath and consider what you value in a friendship. By having a deeper understanding of what makes you happy and fulfilled you will naturally gravitate towards women that will fit nicely within your life.
Like a romantic relationship, friendships can start off wonderfully, but quickly fall apart. They can even become downright abusive. Sometimes women may feel like they have no other so-called friends in their lives and choose to continue to participate in the unhealthy relationship because they don’t know how to end it or are afraid of being alone.
Toxic friendships are not specific to any one age group. Although we may only think of backstabbing, cattiness, and general bad behavior as part of a teenager’s life, it can happen well into adulthood, too. No relationship is worth pursuing if it makes you feel unworthy or used. If you feel you are in a toxic relationship consider taking the following steps to untangle yourself from its lethal web:
- Reduce contact with the person
- Surround yourself with people that exude positivity
- Avoid creating drama and never talk about the person to mutual friends
- Make a clean break
Maintaining Your Friendships
Whether you develop a singular relationship or find a close-knit group of friends that add value to your life, it is crucial to uphold the relationship to make sure it continues to grow. The friendships you create in your mid-twenties are naturally going to change as you move through your thirties and beyond. While you may not be able to get together often, keep each other informed of the major events in your life. Don’t let social media consume you. Make plans for weekly, monthly, even yearly get-togethers (if you have a long distant relationship) to stay connected and a part of each other’s lives. Friendships that flourish can help you navigate life and all the potholes that are ahead. Never underestimate the value of finding friends that lift you up and support you through it all.
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Piper Punches is an author of fiction and truth, tackling topics on social justice, mindful living, creativity, and the writing life. She is the Amazon bestselling author of The Waiting Room, and the short story, Missing Girl. Her newest book, 60 Days (Missing Girl Series — Book 1) is currently available on Amazon. For a limited time, readers can sign up to get a free copy of Missing Girl here.