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[Opinion] Navigating Relationships While Adulting

The reality is that being a grown-up is admitting that oftentimes you’ve outgrown that friendship…and that is something often forgotten.

Recently, I found myself being mildly berated by an elder of my family for not attending a family function. The excuse I gave for my missed attendance was, “I’m grown.” Now, that response could have been a Freudian slip, and a slightly disrespectful reply, but nothing too bad for no reason I can see, because it’s my truth. I then was told, “It’s not about being grown. It’s about being there for family.” But in truth, it is about being grown and exercising the right to be where I choose to be. I’d also venture to say that the foundation to navigating family, but mostly adult friendships is understanding that all involved parties are grown adults…and that’s something that’s often forgotten.

Let’s be honest, being an adult is nothing more than multitasking non-stop. It can be super exhausting and super rewarding all at the same time. Adulting oftentimes leaves little room for interaction outside the orbit within the twenty-four hours of one’s day and home. Society and social media display various versions of friendship, which creates an illusion that trickles into issues; underlying and non-existent. What happens is that we see friendships that appear to be happy-go-lucky, full of fun and promise. So, if our friendship isn’t intact and doesn’t mirror the image we see, most feel the need to apply pressure to said friendship. Not saying what we often see is known to be true or false, but what it does is cause many to take a self-inventory of their current friendships, others to compare and contrast, and that idealism usually suggests to one friend that there’s a need to require more. That can be good and bad. Good, because sometimes well enough is good enough. Bad, because sometimes rocking the boat will cause it to tip over.

In every relationship, there’s give and take, which is merely an acknowledged transaction between the participants. Most friendships are built on survival, similarity, proximity, gender, and social financial economic status. Those things contribute to the strengthening and weakening of friendships. They make and break friendships and cause a nuance when those things are altered.

The new friendship craze we’re seeing on social media is the praising of the “low maintenance” friend, and the pleading for permission to grieve our now-dead friendships. And that’s only become a concern because our friendships are an extension of our identity. The “low maintenance” friend is receiving adulation because they get it. They understand the limited access. They understand a brief absence often means something is being handled in private and isn’t personal. They also understand that sometimes you can’t be present to celebrate every win and sometimes you can’t be present to comfort every loss. They get in where they fit in and ask for nothing more. Life hands us all different dinner plates. Some have a four-course meal, some the entree and others are only having an appetizer, but we’re all somehow eating.

I believe some difficulties with navigating friendships as we mature are due to everyone not maturing at the same rate. Some haven’t grasped the idea that an alteration has occurred in one’s general life. With others, no matter what you do, nothing is ever enough. Then there’s the friend who’s in a secret competition, which is often never addressed, to the friend who disguises darts as jokes, and that friendship that was born out of survival. Well, once the tide turns and what it was once rooted in is now nongermane, it's forced to redefine itself, which becomes difficult.

There’s a phrase that says: everyone can’t go where you’re going. And that’s true, but the joy is realizing that sometimes your friendship has already reached its desired destination, and whether the need for a second prime is the question of understanding and expectation.

However, we must remember as we grow older every friendship begins to look different, and a friend who doesn’t allow you to grow in any capacity isn’t a friend. Those who have taken the time to learn their friendship love language accept there are ways and areas in which we show up for our friends that aren’t necessarily recognizable but don’t require explaining either.

The reality is that being a grown-up is admitting that oftentimes you’ve outgrown that friendship…and that too is something often forgotten.

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1 Comment

Amanda Villis
Amanda Villis
Nov 29, 2023

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