This year has been a bit of a strange one for friendships. We’ve traded in coffee dates and nights out for Zoom quizzes and FaceTimes to catch up about, well, nothing. It’s fair to say that we could be feeling a strain on our friendships, which already hadn’t been feeling the same since university. In this week’s blog, I want to talk about friendship in your twenties and, generally, having a social life as an adult.
University is a great way to meet new people and make lifelong friendships. Maybe our first year accommodation didn’t put us with the perfect people but we made do and met people in other ways. Then, hopefully, you spend the following two (or more) years living with the people you choose to. So it’s pretty hard to navigate the same level of closeness and bonding when you leave university and head off in different directions across the country, or even the world.
It’s been over a year since I left university, and I’ve felt quite up and down about my relationships, spanning school friendships, university mates and work friends. It’s really hard to go from living with all of your friends, or having them a few doors down, to texting “ah this month is no good, what about next?”.
After leaving university, I started a job that I was only at for a month, but I really enjoyed the whole heading out to work in the morning to spend the day with work friends. Even from just a month I still have those friendships now, which is really great. However, as I now work in a different city to where I live (and did prior to the pandemic), I don’t have those typical work colleague friendships where we can finish work and go for a drink together, which I’m sure many can relate to now also.
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What’s more painful – a few dates that amounted to nothing or the breakdown of a friendship?
What I can’t seem to work out, is why some friendships can seem like really frustrating Tinder chats (not that I’ve ever used it, just Bumble for me). Wondering if they’re interested in talking to you, if your suggestion of meeting up was just plain rejected or if they genuinely are busy. It’s all a bit confusing and no one really talks about how to navigate that.
At this point, I wonder if there needs to be friendship breakups. Should two people keep trying to establish an engaging conversation or arrange to meet up when the interest just isn’t there? Or is there a nice way to say “look, I think we’ve both grown apart and I do really love you but I just don’t want to go for brunch because we’re not the same people that we were at uni”.
Losing friends can be just as difficult as a breakup, if not more because there’s often no closure. The above scenario doesn’t often happen and so the typical end to a friendship is a few failed attempts at meeting up, messages that get left on read and not talking for months. Is it more awkward to drop them a text after six months, or just never speak again?
Making new friends
In terms of making new friends, I tried out ‘Bumble BFF’ and felt so weird about it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the concept and I think it’s a great idea but, it’s weird to be searching for new friends when you have friends but they’re just not near you anymore. Those kinds of platforms are great but using it felt like quite a harsh realisation that my adult friendships were going to be a bit harder than those I’d made during education.
It’s difficult to make friends as an adult, because we don’t sit next to new people in class and we aren’t put into a random accommodation with anyone to form ties. We might find people we know we’d get on really well with on social media, but not know how to make a few comments here and there turn into a full on friendship.
It’s all a bit confusing
So, it’s hard. It really is. All I can say is, “stay close to those that make you feel like sunshine” and if a friendship is no longer serving you, consider whether it’s time to move past it.
This post isn’t one of my typical “here are 5 ways to solve any friendship issues you have as a 20-something year old” (you can read about how to maintain strong adult friendships here) but rather a post that I hope resonates with you.
It’s no wonder we can feel overwhelmed by the concept of friendship in our twenties. From nurturing old bonds to forming new ones, to workplace pals and neighbours you meet in the lift, how can we always get it right?
I’ll let you know when I find out, of course.