How Your Female Friendships Evolve Throughout Your 20s

by Suzanne McKenzie

Female friendship: It's a special kind of beast. It has a depth and a beauty that no other relationship can offer, but let's be honest: It's complicated AF.

And by complicated, we mean that it can seem pretty insane to the untrained eye.

Remember the "Girls" episode when they went to that beach house and over the course of 36 hours proceeded to have alcohol-fueled screaming matches followed by healing heart-to-hearts, all while somehow managing to master a Broadway choreography routine? They left the North Fork (NOT the Hamptons) in the same state as they arrived — "best friends" with about a million asterisks.

The craziest part? For most groups of girlfriends, this would be considered a pretty successful girls' weekend.

Yeah, we know: It's kind of nuts.

But whether we're talking about Hannah, Jessa, Marnie and Shoshanna or our own brunch crew, one of the most consistently remarkable things about female friendship is the way it evolves. It's as complex as the people who enter into it, and it lives and breathes and changes as a result.

Your 20s are a perfect example of this evolution. Between your early, mid and late 20s, the only constant in your lady friendships is the presence of change — for better and for worse.

Here's the good, the bad and the ugly that you can expect at every stage along the way.

Early 20s

The Good:

Fresh out of college and ready to take on the world: Girlfriends in their early 20s operate with a certain carefree optimism when it comes to their social lives. At this stage, it's all about spending every moment together in party mode – pre-gaming to perfectly-curated playlists, using strength in numbers to cut lines at the trendiest clubs and scoring free vodka sodas (for you AND your girls) from finance dudes who don't know any better.

Or if your name is Hannah, Marnie, Jessa or Shoshanna, you hit up a warehouse party in Bushwick where you stumble upon your (kind-of but not really) ex-boyfriend, strike up a conversation with a woman named Tako (yes, with a "K," not a "C") and get an old dude punched in the face for defending your honor. Oh, to be young.

The Bad:

The downside of spending all your free time with your BFFs is that you run the risk of getting sick of each other. What were once endearing quirks become grating habits. Daily text blasts that used to be a welcome distraction from your office job suddenly feel like an annoying overshare.

It's at this stage that you learn the true meaning of the phrase "too much of a good thing."

The Ugly:

Ah, the things we fight about in our early 20s. Conflict tends to revolve around superficial things (things that certainly don't FEEL superficial in the moment). Unanswered texts, spending time with a BF over a BFF and flaking on plans last-minute are your typical drama-starters. Petty Town, USA.

Mid 20s

The Good:

By the time your mid 20s roll around, you start to get your shit together, and that includes your friendships. You learn how to distance yourself from friends who add drama to your life, and your remaining ladies are the ones who lift your spirits and feed your soul.

You graduate from boozy all-nighters to post-work happy hours, Saturday evenings at your neighborhood pub and then obviously dishing about all of your classy shenanigans over mimosas at brunch in the morning.

The Bad:

Some friendships aren't meant to last forever, and this becomes overwhelmingly clear as soon as you hit your mid 20s. Work obligations, geographical moves and significant others all tend to play a role in the inevitable growing apart that happens with some friendships.

Having less time to spend together will force you to be picky about the free time you DO have, and as a result, some relationships will fall to the wayside. When this happens, remember: It's natural. Don't drive yourself crazy trying to force something that's run its course.

The Ugly:

You know that feeling when you're hitting roadblocks left and right while your friends seem to be killing it career-wise, slaying every opportunity that's tossed their way and making names for themselves in their chosen fields? Yeah, it's actually the worst. This kind of resentment can cause huge, sometimes irreparable rifts among friends because it's basically impossible to own up to.

Flashback to "Girls" season three when Hannah's e-book deal dies (along with her editor — yikes) just as Adam lands a role in a Broadway show. "Salt in the wound" would be the grossest of understatements.

Late 20s

The Good:

By this point, the friends that you see often are your ride-or-dies. You've stopped caring about maintaining friendships that aren't mutually-beneficial. You and your main girls still rendezvous weekly, but now it's over wine and TV at your apartment (maybe you FINALLY have your own place) or over a BFF-date at your favorite fancy dinner spot (yes, you can afford it now).

Your conversations may be a little more infrequent now that you don't have as much downtime, but they're truly deeper and more meaningful when they do happen. You guys have made it through A LOT together, and you have absolutely zero need for small talk.

The Bad:

The late 20s — it's the time when people start settling down. And when you don't feel like you're hitting life milestones in sync with your best friends, things can feel a little bit shaky. Maybe you're the only one still embracing the single life in a sea of marrieds, or you're starting to embrace family and future while your friends continue to tear up the town.

We witnessed this firsthand in season five of "Girls" when Marnie tied (and then quickly untied) the knot, Hannah quit her first stable job in years to focus on writing, Jessa decided to embark on higher education with Adam (!) by her side and Shosh left literally everything behind for a brand new start in Japan.

No matter what's going on in your friends' lives, it never gets any easier to realize that you're no longer on the same page.

The Ugly:

Hopefully by this point you're no longer facing ugly friendship moments on the regular. That being said, sometimes other life priorities get in the way of even the most rock-solid lady bonds.

When your BFF finds herself with a spouse or a baby, you'll have to accept that you no longer come first in her life.