The care and keeping of your friends is something that, at first, seems pretty self-explanatory: That is, just don’t be a jerk, and you should be fine.
But, as is the case with most things, it’s a lot more difficult to maintain a friendship than you might initially think. There are weird subtleties in all kinds of human relationships–you know, like, with your mom, dad, boyfriend, girlfriend, teacher, the person who looked at you a little funny in the street and you don’t know why but you can’t stop thinking about it–and friendships are no different.
Things that once felt easy and natural start to become a little awkward. You drift apart. You start to disagree on more things than you used to. You start making other friends, even if you aren’t sure that you want to leave your other friend behind. And this is fine! Just beause a friendship isn’t, like, effortless, this doesn’t mean that it’s bad, either. It just means that you have to put in a little more work into it. To start doing the work, check out these little things that could possibly be ruining your friendship here, so you know what you definitely should not do:
Expecting One Person To Initiate HangoutsIt's easy to sit back and wait for your friends to invite you out to do things, but it's pretty annoying to be on the other side of that. Even if someone always accepts your invitations, and seems excited about it once they're there, having to initiate everything always makes it seem as though they're not as invested in maintaining the friendship. So, if you have a friend that you'd consider yourself to be pretty close with, but they're always the one to send out invites and figure out details, try doing it yourself a couple times--they'll probably be happy to have the responsibility lifted off their shoulders. Image source: iStock
Expecting Constant, IRL ContactOn the flipside, you shouldn't expect your pals to be at your beck and call, like, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Balance is important, so leveraging an expectation of constant contact--and getting upset when they don't adhere to it--is a good way to alienate yourself from your friends fast. You can use your best judgment, but, for the most part, hanging out a couple times a week is totally fine.
Using Your Friend As A TherapistFriends are a great sounding board for things that might be bothering you--friends, family, school, relationship issues--but they shouldn't be your only resource. It's unfair to expect friends to act as mental health professionals, first of all. Plus, it's just exhausting to be friends with someone who only seems to be interested in talking to you when they need a counseling sesh and doesn't have the ability to offer you the same courtesy. So, if you're constantly calling up your friends to talk about things that are going on with you, but can't think of anything that might be happening to them, put in some effort to make the friendship a little less one-sided. Ask what's going on and, you know, actually listen--doing so might help you, too. Image source: iStock
Ditching For A Boyfriend Or GirlfriendOkay, look. We've all been the friend who, upon receiving a text from, you know, someone, suddenly has to leave a night out with your friends, or gets so absorbed in a new relationship that you forget to make time for your friends for a little bit. Literally everyone does this at some point, so it's fine every now and then. But if you are constantly leaving girls' nights to go hook up with someone, or if you're the type of person who falls off the face of the earth when you start dating someone new, just try to make a little more effort to integrate them into your life. Image source: iStock
Gossiping In ExcessMuch like ditching your friends every now and then for a guy or girl, gossiping is one of those things that you know you shouldn't do but end up doing every now and then anyway. For the most part, this is okay. I would argue that, since it's human nature to discuss other people, gossiping is not the worst thing you can do in life, as long as you're not being totally awful, making up rumors about someone, or doing it with the intent of bullying the person you're talking about. You just don't want to become the person who's known for always gossiping. It can be easy to bond with someone over a mutual distaste for someone you both know, but those friendships generally start to develop a bad taste after a little bit, since you start to wonder what they're saying about. Plus, it might make your friends wonder what you're saying about them when youi're not with them and make them not want to tell you anything that's going on with them. So, you can gossip every now and then--again, as long as it's not too mean, fake, and/or doesn't result in cyber or IRL bullying--but try not to make it the centerpiece of your friendship. Image source: iStock
Holding GrudgesMost friendships have their ups and downs, so, it's definitely normal if you and a friend have gotten in some fights, or they've done things to upset you in the past. If it's something that really bothers you and makes you feel as though you actually can't be friends with them anymore, you don't have to hang out with them. Just don't maintain a friendship and spend most of it holding something over their head--this will most likely make your friend resent you and not particularly want to be your friend anymore. Image source: iStock
Being Too JealousJealousy is usually associated with romantic relationships, but it can be a downfall in friendships, too. Maybe your friend got into a college you wanted to go to, got the part in the school play you've been practicing for since the start of the year, or got a varsity spot on the field hockey team while you got cut from the freshman squad. And, hey--jealousy is a normal feeling, albeit one that feels totally awful and difficult to control. You can start to control it, though, by trying to separate your jealousy of your friend from your legitimate happiness for them, which you should have somewhere within, and resist the urge to make snide comments to try and detract from their experience. If they're a good friend, they won't rub it in your face--try and give them the courtesy of being happy for them. Image source: iStock
Were you surprised by any of these tips? Do you have any other ones? Let us know in the comments!