Just like dating, friendship is this awkward dance of crushing on someone because you have similar interests, thinking they’re fun to be around, and wanting to hang out more, then moving into the stage of “I like you, do you like me too?” and finally, you make it insta official.
I moved from Indiana, to Illinois, to Colorado, to Tennessee all within my first two years out of college. As I moved across the country, my friendships changed and shifted everywhere I went. I left my comfortable friends in Indiana when I went to Illinois to marry my husband, and was accompanied by my old friends from my hometown for a brief time before we were off to Colorado and I was the new girl, newly married, and in a totally new place with a new job.
Then, a year later we moved to Tennessee and I got to do the new girl thing all over again.
As I made friends, lost friends, forgot friends, and searched for friends, I started to think critically about friendship and my seven standards of friendship were born and originally published with Harness Magazine.
When I put those out into the world wide web, I was terrified, and then, something magical happened like a midsummer Christmas gift to me. The internet told me I wasn’t alone. Making and keeping and breaking up with friends as an adult human is really hard, and we are all doing it.
So here are my 7 standards of friendship again, in more detail, as a series.
Standard One: My Friends Need to be Healthy Individuals
As you might have imagined, or as you might be gritting your teeth as I say it, I learned this one the hard way. When you’re the new girl, it feels nice to be needed. Everywhere you go, there will be needy people.
People who want to be heard but don’t want to listen, want to soak up your time, resources, wisdom, and all, but when you are the one calling late at night with a favor in mind, they are nowhere to be seen.
But, I was the new girl, and I was so new, it was easy to get swept up in the feeling of being wanted by someone. It’s reassuring and nice when someone is texting you first, because if they weren’t, no one in the new state would be. And if you were me, it might take you a little bit to pick up on the red flags.
Here’s the thing, there’s nothing wrong with needing to work through something or being in a difficult season of life.
I hope we all have incredible friends to walk through those things when we are in those seasons ourselves, and that we can all be those friends when people close to us need someone to walk beside them through a difficult season.
It’s a whole different thing when it goes from needing encouragement and empathy, to becoming overly dependent and looking for fulfillment in the friendship.
A friend, even a really great friend, won’t make you a healthy person.
You have to do that work on your own time. Journaling, meditating, listening to TED talks, I don’t know what it looks like for you, but you have to put in the work.
Then when you’re having a bad day, you can turn to your friend and ask for them to lift you up a bit. But you can’t fully rely on your friend to lift you up all the time. It’s not good for you, and it’s not good for them.
I like feeling needed. I think if we’re honest, we all do to an extent. Hearing someone want my advice, my opinion, or my help with something was so exciting when I didn’t feel noticed or known otherwise.
I had to admit I didn’t have the capacity to be someone’s friend whose health relied too heavily on my friendship. It’s okay if you have to admit that too.