Three is a pretty powerful number. It's the Holy Trinity, the number of wishes a genie grants (unless you life hack that genie and gain more wishes) and the years that Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson's marriage lasted.
It's also the number of close friends that I cut from my life in the last year. While I will not divulge on the dirty, dramatic details that ended these relationships (sorry), I will bestow upon you the knowledge that I have gained.
Let’s go back to grade school: the edification of social rearing. I can’t speak for the current generation, but for today’s 20-somethings, times were pretty sweet back in a magical decade we like to call the 90s. Making a friend basically went as follows:
“You like Barbie? I like Barbie. Friends.” “You live around the corner from me. Friends.” “You’re not cool. I’m not cool. Friends.” “You’re popular. I’m popular. Friends.”
Fantastic. Fast-forward to college and forming friendships became perhaps even easier:
“You live in the same dorm as me. Soul Mates.” “You like drinking a lot. Never let me go.” “ALPHA BETA OMGGGGGG! Let’s exchange blood and braid each other’s hair.”
Hey, nostalgia, is that you?
Then college ended and life became… complicated. It’s not a groundbreaking sentiment that making friends post-college is difficult, but I’ll state it regardless. Making friends post-college is difficult.
This is the case for a number of reasons: time constraints, finances, romances, living situations, jobs, a lack of keggers, hangovers (seriously, what are these???), etc.
Therein lies [one of] the [many] contradiction(s) of our 20s: As our lives become more complex and our past methods of forming close friendships around simple similarities and convenience becomes insubstantial, it feels like we only have the time and are granted the opportunity for convenience.
My three previously mentioned ex-friendships were friendships of convenience; we had mutual friends, similar schedules, geographic proximity and similar drinking styles (aka we liked to party, we liked, we liked to party).
Because our friendships lent so easily to our lives and schedules, we grew "close" very quickly. My point is not to write these people and our relationships off as meaningless, vapid encounters, but to highlight that becoming close friends without much time or consideration led to overlooking multiple foundational elements essential to inner-circle bonds.
These imperative foundational elements include, but are not limited to, values, morals, temperaments, attitudes, world views... You know, the stuff that you don't fully understand about a person until you -- here's the clincher -- actually get to know him or her. Mind. Blown.
Not everyone is meant to be your close friend. Friends are meant to lift you up and make you feel good about yourself, and allow you to do the same for them. They don’t have to have all the same interests as you and they don’t have to see eye-to-eye with you on everything, but they do have to support you and respect you.
Friends that bring negativity into your life, or do not treat you in a way that you would treat others are not your close friends (and potentially not friends at all).
I realized a few things during my friend breakups: First and foremost, a friend breakup is super awkward, but it doesn't have to be. Unlike romantic relationships, we assume that friendships will naturally work out unless something awful tears us apart.
We don’t really think that we weren’t “meant to be” with friends, but sometimes the truth is we’re not. Don’t be too hard on yourself, or your friend if a friendship goes south due to uncontrollable differences.
It doesn't make you a bad person, nor does it make him or her a bad person; it just means that it didn't work in the way you had thought it would.
Secondly, I came to understand that had I formed different relationships with these people from the start, the likelihood of running into the issues we did, or having these issues impact our friendships so greatly, would have been drastically lessened.
This is an important lesson that many of us don't give enough attention to in our lives. There are varying levels of friendship, including acquaintances, shopping pals, drinking buddies, friends you only hang out with in groups, close friends, best friends, etc.
When we meet someone new, despite how exciting that can be, we should be sure to test the waters and figure out where we stand with that person. I rushed into my friendships and consequently, they weren’t placed into the right friend level.
If we take time and truly evaluate the role that is right for a person in our lives and vice versa, we’re more likely to form a bond that is fulfilling for both parties.
Of course, some people are not meant to be your friend, period. Some people have bad intentions, are cruel or have varying priorities, but that is a separate article altogether.
I have a lot of amazing, supportive, loving friends that I am so incredibly appreciative of and lucky to have in my life. We have our arguments and disagreements, but our friendships aren’t damaged by these events because we have a strong understanding of each other and an even stronger bond.
While I love my current friends, there is always room for more. I am accepting applications for new friends, but the interview process is a pretty long one now.