Friends are tricky. We’ve all loved them, lost them, and moved past them.
People don’t tend to talk about how friends can break your heart, but we all know that it happens. It might be an argument that never gets resolved, or you might just drift apart over time. But we’ve all been there.
Sometimes, it’s the friends you already have that leave you feeling deflated and broken. You might spend hours wondering why they didn’t call you back, or if they’ll ever be the one to text you first. Cue the overthinking: did I do something wrong? Have I upset them? Why do they always cancel plans? Why is it always me who makes the effort? Why do they never give anything back? Do they even care?
My mum always told me that friendships are the hardest relationships to maintain, and sadly, she’s right. But it shouldn’t have to be that way. When you have a true friend, it’s easy. You don’t have to question whether they care about you, you don’t spend hours agonising over the fact that they didn’t message you first today, you don’t have to talk every day because you understand and respect that their life doesn’t revolve around you, but you could talk all day every day if you wanted to. You know without a doubt that they love you, no matter what happens. It’s easy peasy lemon squeezy.
The thing is, if people want to talk to you, they will. If they care about you, they’ll show it. And if they don’t? Well, to be blunt, they won’t. So there’s no point waiting around for that message asking if you want to meet up or crying for somebody’s attention when they’re not up for giving it to you willingly. It’s taken me a lot of time and a lot of failed friendships to realise this, but I’ve learned my lesson. You can miss somebody all you like, but that doesn’t make them miss you. And you’re wasting your own time pining for love and affection from somebody who isn’t dishing it out freely to you.
Don’t beat yourself up about it though. It’s more than likely not your fault. If someone isn’t putting in effort with you, that’s their concern, not yours. You don’t actually need the people that don’t bother with you, as much as you may think you do. Frankly, you’re worth more than that, and there are people who will give you all the love that you’re worth and more, and they’ll show you how real friends are supposed to act.
I’ve learned a lot about friendship over the years. I’ve had some bad ones, some good ones, some that have lasted for years, and some that only made it a few months. I’ve overcome arguments, separations, distance, and god knows what else. But most of all, I’ve overcome my own obstacles and my own ideals of what makes a good friend. I have learned that it is better to have just one person who makes you feel valued, who puts in the effort, and who makes it known that they love you and care about you, than it is to have a lot of friends who leave you wondering if they actually care at all. I’m lucky enough to have found a couple of people who are continual sources of love and support, and everybody deserves friends like that.
It takes a lot to stand up and acknowledge that some people aren’t worth your time. Walking away from a friendship with someone you care about, or at least distancing yourself from it, can be pretty hard going. But it will make you feel better. I wish I’d known that ten years ago, or even just last year. You deserve to be loved as much as you love others. Don’t accept anything less than what you crave, and don’t settle for people who only give you a fraction of what you give them. When it comes down to it, you have to value yourself and your needs as much as you value the other person. In the words of Elliott Fudge, “you don’t have to be around people where you have to tolerate being second best”.
I am no expert on friendships. In fact, looking at my record, I’m probably the last person that anyone should come to for advice on buds, pals, and mates. But I do know that healthy friendships take equality and mutual respect.
I am not the same person that I was when I met Paige three years ago. I’m not even the same person that I was when I started speaking to Elliott four months ago. But they’re my best friends, and they have helped me to grow. They’ve advised me, encouraged me, and grown with me. That’s what friendship is about. It’s not about accusations like “you’ve changed” and “you’re not the same person you were when I met you”, it’s about “look how far we’ve come” and “I am so proud of you”. You don’t always have to get on – arguments happen – but you move on from it. You challenge each other, you learn from each other, and you pick each other up. Most importantly, you value each other, and you always make that known.
Surround yourself with the kind of people who love talking to you, who message you first, who make plans with you and actually follow through, and who love and support you no matter how many stupid things you do. It doesn’t matter how long you have been friends, what matters is how you treat each other.
Remember to show your friends that you care about them, and respect yourself enough to know when you’re not in a balanced friendship. Don’t take any nonsense from anyone, and you’ll be okay.