On Sunday I hiked Snow Lake with my best friend Nicole and her boyfriend. Nicole and I have been friends since we met through cheerleading in high school and have pretty much been inseparable ever since. Nicole is the friend I use the little twinsies dancing girl emoji to refer too, she’s the one I always envision as my maid of honor at my wedding, she’s the one I call crying after a breakup and the one I’m not afraid to curl up next to on a twin bed if need be. She’s my bestie.
Though neither of us are very confrontational as people (and especially as friends) over the years we’ve faced a few natural friendship challenges. I moved across the state, she dated a jerk, I dated an even bigger jerk, we disagreed over big issues, etc. Though our besties are some of the most important people in our lives, it is inevitable to avoid confrontation and adversity completely. Whether it is intentional or circumstantial issues (big or small) will eventually arise in any friendship and I think it is the way we conquer and surmount these challenges that showcases how strong our friendships really are.
The Issue: Her Boyfriend Is a complete Jerk
While we all want to find our Prince Charming, chances are we’ll have to kiss a few frogs before embracing our happily ever after (I Know I have). As your best friend’s number one advocate it is normal that you only want what is best for her. I know I am extremely protective of Nicole and have always been astonished and enraged when any guy treats her as anything other than a goddess (I mean look at that luscious red hair, those big blue eyes). Though it is almost always with good intentions that we confess our hatred for our bestie’s boyfriends, it can cause a gigantic strain on a friendship.
If your best friend is dating a jerk make sure you carefully and critically analyze the situation (perhaps with your Mom or another trustworthy friend) before confronting her. Ask yourself if her boyfriend is really a jerk or just not your type. Do you dislike him because you think he’s sort of a weirdo or because he’s harming her? Is her boyfriend mean or hurtful or does his cockiness just drive you crazy? Remember YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DATE HIM! Often times if your best friend’s boyfriend isn’t physically, emotionally or verbally abusing her it is better to just stay out of it. A boyfriend that doesn’t measure up to Edward Cullen isn’t necessarily a bad boyfriend. Most importantly make sure you aren’t letting your own feelings of insecurity interfere with your opinion of her boyfriend (see also, When your Bestie gets a boyfriend). Ask your best friend to share her favorite parts of her boyfriend with you, try double dating or even spending time with just the two of them. Give your best friend’s boyfriend time to warm up to you, he may surprise you!
The Issue: You guys are in a Long Distance Friendship
When you’re accepted into an out of state grad program, offered a cool job abroad or fall in love with a guy who lives across the state there’s a good chance you’ll relocate. I thoroughly believe part of being young is being unstable, being fluid and open to the potential of change. Sometimes change means relocating. If you or your friend moves across the state, country or the world it can be difficult to maintain the friendship you had when you were in the same chemistry lab or shared the same dorm room. Adult friendships, especially adult long distance friendships, take work. Though you may not see each other daily or even communicate as consistently it is important to establish a method of communication that works for the two of you. Visits are obviously the most ideal solution, but aren’t always possible, when you can’t visit skype or talk on the phone, send her a care package, snapchat silly and funny portions of your day, write a letter, make her a scrapbook, get creative and show your best friend that you miss her and she is still a priority to you! It’s easy to neglect long distance friendships, however, you’ll find that a little bit effort (a text with a picture of the two of you and a message about how much you miss her) goes a long way.
The Issue: You guys aren’t “Synching” the way you once did
As we grow up we occasionally see the friends we were once “twinning” with at all times growing in the opposite direction. You might have outgrown partying while your BFF still loves Tequila Tuesday and Thirsty Thursday, maybe she’s still in school while you’re starting a 9-5 corporate job or she’s getting married and you still haven’t had a serious relationship. As we grow up and leave high school (or college) life becomes a lot more variable, when you’ve always been on the same page and in the same space as your best friend it can take time to adjust to lives that are different. If your friendship is important to you, it is important to remember the real reason why you guys are friends. Chances are you bond over similar personalities, characteristics, interests and long term goals rather than day to day to-dos. Your BFF might not jump up and down excitedly at the thought of partying until the bars close on a Wednesday when she has a meeting with her boss the next morning but that doesn’t mean she isn’t the same girl you can share all of your secrets with and rehash your awful first date to! Focus on finding activities and subjects the two of you can connect on rather than illuminating the lifestyle differences.
The Issue: She’s an Extrovert, you’re an Introvert
I never noticed how much more outgoing Nicole was than me until we entered college. At parties she was able to maneuver seamlessly from group to group chatting with strangers about classes and the weather, summer plans and drinking games. Prior to a few glasses of frat party punch I clung to her! I giggled when someone else made a joke, nodded in approval at all the right times, and desperately attempted to add meaningful comments to the conversations I perceived as torturous small talk. I watched my bestie make new friends and enjoy herself, while I felt exhausted attempting to sputter out a few sentences to the drunk girl standing in line next to me for the bathroom! I’m an introvert, but most of my closest friends are extroverts. I could go on and on about the reasons why introverts and extroverts are often drawn to one another (and why these two personality types go well together) but right now I want to address the difficulties. Whether you’re the introvert or extrovert in the scenario it is important to remember neither of you is better or worse, stronger or weaker-you simply have different strengths and preferences. As an introvert I sometimes grow annoyed when friends invite other friends to hangout with us without consulting with me first, I don’t always feel up to attending large social gatherings and sometimes I get irritated when I don’t have enough one on one time with my bestie.
I try to imagine the scenario from the opposite perspective. I imagine my best friend might feel antsy spending Friday night in when there are so many places to go and people to see, I envision the drained feeling that overwhelms me after hours of small talk and imagine she might feel that same way without enough stimulation-I try to put myself in her shoes and find a happy medium. Sometimes I go with Nicole to parties and social functions and she understands I might be a little bit clingy at first (or you know, the entire time). Sometimes she skips going out to have a girls’ night in with just me or we make dinner with a few close friends. It’s all about compromise but it honestly doesn’t feel like much of a compromise when you’re spending time with your BFF.
The Issue: Someone isn’t Playing Nice
We’ve all seen the movie Mean Girls (and if you haven’t I suggest you go see it now) and understand that even our friends can get a little temperamental at times. I don’t consider any of my friends “mean girls” nor do I consider myself particularly mean, however I do know there have been times my closest friends have both intentionally and unintentionally said or done things to hurt me. I’ve had a close friend call me “high maintenance” and stop speaking to me for a year, I’ve had a friend say bad things about me to a guy I was dating, I’ve had friends talk behind my back…is it nice? Of course not, but I’m not exactly guilt free either. Though I consider myself a good friend I’ve gossiped, I’ve said mean things and then had to suck up my pride and apologize, I’ve been selfish and hurt some of my best friends without even meaning to. We’re human, it happens! In my opinion true friends are difficult to find, so unless your friend has truly committed an unforgivable act it pays to forgive mistakes and accidents.
When you’re the mean girl, which let’s face it at some point you have been or will be, own up (preferably in person NOT over text message). Admit what you did was wrong, allow your friend to validate her emotions and don’t expect her to forgive you the second you apologize. Be genuine and kind (maybe buy her some flowers) and allow her room to get over it. There’s no use forcing your friend to talk to you if she is still upset, once you’ve apologized it’s now up to her to either talk about the issue with you or move on. Whatever you do, try to avoid falling into the immature pitfall of being angry at a friend just because she’s angry at you.
All relationships take some work but the best ones are worth it! I’m so grateful for my friendships and the lessons I’ve learned through times of adversity. If a friend isn’t willing to put any work into your relationship he or she probably isn’t as good of a friend as you imagined.
What is your best friend like? What lessons have you learned regarding friendship problems?