How The Idea Of A Good Friend Changes As You Age
When I look back over my life, I can’t believe I made time for some of the people I made time for. And I mean real time. I went on week-long vacations with people I no longer speak to. I attended the weddings of individuals I’ve since had falling outs with. And I even, at certain points, have called people my best friends who today I’d be ashamed to associate with. But when you’re young, you don’t really evaluate the various layers of humans the way you do as you get older. You’ll tolerate a lot of pretty questionable behavior, so long as, when you are with those people, you feel excited and have fun. And feeling those things is amazing! But when there is a foundation of trust, acceptance, honesty, and shared values (not really things I thought about in my early twenties). Here is how friendships change as you get older.
They’ll do nothing at all with you
When you get older, friendships are about the person and not the activity. So you often just want to go to your buddy’s place with no plan at all, happy to see where the day takes you. You don’t feel like hanging on the couch is a waste of time.
You can tolerate them in large doses
Remember those friends from your twenties who were total train wrecks, brought way too much nervous energy around, and whom you could only tolerate in small doses? As you get to be older you think, “If I can only tolerate someone in small doses, then maybe they’re not a compatible friend for me.” So you remove them from your life, and allocate that new, extra time to friends you can tolerate in large doses.
You can call them out on their sh*t
You need friends who you can call on their sh*t. You need to know that you can give a friend a note (i.e. you’ve been self-involved lately or you’ve been impatient lately) and she’ll actually consider it, rather than get upset.
They must be excellent planners
You just don’t have time, as you get older, for friends who will not check their calendars to confirm they are free before making a plan with you, or for friends who intentionally double book you, or for friends who give you flaky time frames like “Some time between 1 and 5.” You know that friends who care about spending time with you make specific plans.
They must keep their word
You also don’t tolerate people who go back on their word, canceling at the last minute for silly reasons like being hungover or tired.
They must put the friendship before other things
You want pure friendships as you get older. What I mean by that is, you want a friend whose friendship isn’t conditional on you helping her with her career or introducing her to eligible bachelors. This friend wants you just for you.
They don’t blow up at you
Remember the blow-out fights you’d get into with your friends in your twenties? You’d say hurtful, nasty things to each other? And somehow…you’d be best friends again two weeks later? Yeah. You don’t do those types of fights anymore. You recognize that if a relationship causes yelling, screaming fights, then those two friends aren’t very good for one another.
They need to make an effort with your partner
When you were younger, you may have tolerated friends who were standoffish to your partner, or who didn’t really want to hang out with you and your boo—only you alone. As you age, you find your true, life partner. And you can only have friends who are willing to make an effort with him, get to know him, and spend time with the two of you as a couple.
They have to be responsible for your kids
Once you have kids, you really re-evaluate your friends. You only want people around who are responsible, nurturing, caring, thoughtful, gentle, and kind.
You just catch up on big picture stuff
You know you’re with a really good friend when you don’t get too caught up telling each other about every minute detail of your lives. Your friendship is a part of the big picture—the things that matter in this life—so you only talk about the big picture. You don’t talk about how every meeting went that week. You either just say that work is going great, okay, or not great.
You put your guard down around them
You want friends around whom you feel safe as you get older. You can sense which people you need your guard up around, and rather than try to keep it up and hang out with them (as you would have when you were younger) you just remove them from your life.
You feel fully accepted
You want to feel fully accepted by your friends as you get older. Are you an old lady at heart that doesn’t care about club openings or trends? Your friends love you for it. They don’t call you boring or dull.
They’ll be there through ugly times
As you get older, you really notice which friends are there for you through ugly times—who keeps coming around when you’re depressed after losing a job or a relationship, and who only pops up when you’re ready to party again.
They push you to do things that make you happy
As you get older, and want bigger and better things out of life, you naturally gravitate towards friends who push you to get those things. So you want to be around friends who believe you should go on that trip/take that class/start that business. You like go-getters.
They feel like family
Ultimately, you want your friends to feel like family as you age. You want to be able to take a nap at your friend’s house, and pee with the door open. It’s that simple.