I straight-up love my lady friends. They ground me but they hype me up; they believe in me and I support them. Having a network of female allies has been so incredibly powerful for me through the ups and downs of life. But college can be a confusing time for friendships.
Sometimes I think it would be good for us to treat friendships a little bit more like dating. I’ve seen many people cling to friendships that aren’t working out because we don’t have enough conversations about how to deal with friendship fallouts. A lot of the time, friendships don’t end mutually; they don’t end because someone slept with your boyfriend or called you a mean word to your face. A lot of the time, it just isn’t working out. You no longer feel that spark. And it’s okay. But how does one end a friendship? It can be tricky and a very gray area which leaves both people confused and sad with little or no closure.
So here, I’ll be discussing ways to treat friendship a little more like dating to provide a framework to deal with friendship — from the time you start hanging out to the time you break up.
Find gals in your area by joining organizations based on your interests
The best way to find PNFs (potential new friends) is to go out of your comfort zone.
It can be hard to make initial connections with people in your organization and sometimes it takes a little while to develop connections into friendships. But the more involved you get with organizations and activities you’re passionate about, you’ll discover more about yourself.
Shoot your shot with PNFs
It’s 2020, y’all! It’s time to shoot your shot with friends! As a person who has been 20 for a little over one month now, I have the authority to say that your 20s can be a confusing time.
On one hand, you might feel like you know a lot of people, but on the other, you might be confused about whether or not they want to hang out outside of class or your organization or work! But eliminating confusion starts with you, sis! If YOU feel enough of a connection with someone to want to hang out with them, odds are, they probably feel the same. So the best thing to do is shoot your shot.
Be honest with PNFs and don’t be afraid to ask about hanging out. You never know what type of friendship may blossom from there.
Put in effort
As women, we often prioritize our love interests above our friendships and that’s fine if that’s your jam. But just imagine if we put in the same level of effort into friendships as we did into romantic partnerships.
It can be hard to feel connected to your friends when you rarely see them and only get to catch up once every couple of months. So when it’s possible, reach out to your friends. Call them up. You wouldn’t keep dating someone if you never speak to or hang out with them. Don’t put unnecessary pressure to hang out all the time in friendships but set expectations for time and effort, whether that’s talking once a week or once a month or once a year.
Care to understand
Don’t resent your friend if it feels like you are putting in more effort than them. Instead, ask what is truly going on in the life of that friend. Maybe they haven’t been talking to you because they’ve been completely overwhelmed with school or work. Maybe they haven’t been talking to you because they’ve been overwhelmed with school or work and you never cared to ask them about it and only ever wanted to talk about yourself.
Bring up your feelings in an honest way but start out the conversation with a question rather than calling someone out for not hanging out with you enough.
Treat your friends the way you want to be treated
Be an attentive friend. Life in college can get extremely busy and sometimes it’s hard to maintain regular contact with people even when you have a desire to!
Make mental notes about where you left things with that friend the last time you talked. Did their parents move to Colorado? Did their annoying coworker get fired yet? How did that Tinder date turn out? Asking and remembering these things helps show that you care.
My love language is sharing memes. When a Tweet, meme or Tik Tok makes you think of a friend, send it to them! There is nothing like a meme in your inbox that lets you know someone cares.
Support them on big and small scales. Hype your friends up on Instagram, retweet their content, and swipe up on that Snapchat story!
More importantly though, show up for your friends. Go to their Galentine’s get-togethers, intramural basketball games or art shows. Stick with your commitments and make time for your friends.
Focus on your energy
That sounds very cliche, but focus on the energy you put out to your friends. Are you being your best self? Are you putting in your full effort into the friendship? Are you present in the moment when you’re hanging out? Don’t expect good energy to come from others, it has to come from within. It starts with you and your attitude.
Bring up problems so you don’t resent your friends
If you truly feel like you are not being respected in your friendship relationship for some reason, whether that be because they talk down to you, constantly leave you on read, hang out with mutual friends without you or bail on plans last minute, bring it up. You can’t expect your relationship to get better if you don’t address problems.
Leave the conversation open so that person can feel comfortable to address any concerns they have on their end. But if your friend gets defensive instead of caring to change, maybe they just aren’t that good for you. You wouldn’t let those sorts of things happen in a romantic relationship without bringing them up, so it’s worth addressing problems in friendships too.
If the problems continue or get worse, maybe the friendship has run its course. And that’s okay. I think the best way to end a friendship is to draw clear boundaries to gain closure.
When it feels like a friendship is one-sided, where you’re the one giving the majority of the energy, the thought of confrontation can be exhausting. At this point, it may be best for you to simply take some time away from the friendship to reassess its worth. I believe it is best to tell that friend when things aren’t working out but this is easier said than done.