We’re going to dive into three things that don’t always come to mind when we think about friendship. Honestly, friendship can be just as scary as a romantic relationship. To a certain extent, you can keep friends ignorant to your deep, dark, emo feelings, or messy family drama you’re dealing with, or the fact that you just got fired. If you’re an open book, they already know that and more than they ever wanted to know. But how do we make the leap from knowledge of each other’s life into real friendship?
First, friendship is weird. It’s one of those relationships where expectations aren’t laid out in black and white in the beginning. Your relationship with Mom was established quite early on. Your Boyfriend comes with a whole dictionary of expectations. But your friends? Friendship is a spectrum, and it’s messy. There’s that friend you’ve known since you were in diapers, and one day you realize you wouldn’t put them in your wedding, or even trust them to take your pet for the weekend! You and your friend (no matter what stage of the relationship) will always have different expectations of the other. We know communication is key in romantic relationships, why assume it’ll be any different in our friendships?
Second, friendships can be loaded with unspoken expectations. There are two simultaneous and slightly opposing things you have to do right now. Take all your friendspecations and throw them away. This person is not going to complete you. They’re not always going to be who you want them to be or treat you the way you want them to. Just come to terms with that right now, because if you can’t, you will always be disappointment. Now here comes the next part: expect the absolute best from them. Not your best. Their best. Try to get to know them for who they are and not just what they can do for you. We often latch onto people who fulfill our slightly more selfish side. They clean their dishes when they come over, or they offer to pay for lunch. But after you decide you want to be “actual friends” with them, you just gotta let some of that go. Start thinking about what you enjoy about them as a person and hold them to that, instead of your wish list of things you hope to get out of them.
Lastly, remember to always expand your horizons. Be open to new people and new kinds of friends! You may have unknowingly gotten stuck in a friend “type” that you hang out with over and over again. Don’t tell yourself you only have one or two types of friends. Not an active kind of person? That doesn’t mean your next best friend won’t be a gym rat! Not into movies? Don’t discount that nice cinephile you met at trivia night the other day. Whether it’s their age or job, interests or living quarters (don’t knock a solid Aunt’s basement situation) new friends can help broaden your perspective and make you a more open person.
Don’t want to be more open? It’s cool. Grab your lazy friend, order a pizza and ask them about their deepest childhood wound. Just kidding. Or do. But don’t let your friendships turn into another stagnant area of your life.