Adult Friendship Confusion

Friendship is a tricky thing at any age, and I am insanely surprised to find how complicated it still feels at midlife. The workings of various friend types now, the factors that go into each type - and sub-type - are beyond comprehension for my dull social senses.

I always wondered why my mother mostly hung out with her sister when we were young. I didn't like my own sister and certainly wouldn't choose her company for any length of time. I had tons of great friends, by the loose standards in which a teenager interprets the term. My standards, unlike my mouth, are not so loose as an adult. My sister is now one of my best friends, mostly because she can't judge me  - our baggage finds itself in a lifelong entanglement of who has disappointed our parents the most on any given day. How's that for being grown up?

I've been fortunate enough to find more than my fair share of phenomenal friends, which is nothing short of miraculous considering I can't make conversation for squat and I get stomachaches over the awkwardness of meeting new people. It certainly hasn't been a numbers game. The percentage of new people I've met who have become true friends is astoundingly high, but so is the number of people who don't care for my brand of real-life, BS-free curmudgeon. You love me or you don't, and I'm ok with that. Mostly. Maybe. I hope to be, one day.

My adult friendship goals include making the following statements undeniably true: I'm terrible at butt kissing. I won't be fake friends with people just to mix into the social circle. I despise the exclusion of others. I won't hate someone just because everyone else does. I'll stand up for my friends, and sometimes for people I don't even know. I see the mean moms; an evolution of mean girls from our youth, and I reject them. I don't compete in the ongoing popularity contest. It is not, especially at this stage of life, acceptable to use people as foot stools, and I am neither stool nor stepper.

Don't get me wrong. I admit to enjoying the odd bit of shameful gossip and indulging in the adult equivalent of a kegger among friendlies. I can have fun and like people and be nice to everyone without guilt. I'm not pretending to be BFFs while we share a bottle of wine and watch grown men concuss themselves on a slip-n-slide. I have no doubt that any interesting piece of information that comes out of my mouth, will be shared with the next friendly over-served ear who takes my seat. I won't expect to be your closest bench-mate at our kids' soccer game tomorrow. This is the friendship equivalent of a one-night stand or even a mildly frequent booty call. We can come together for fun, laughs and whatever else is thrown in on occasion. Not everyone will be my best friend. Not everyone will actually like me at all. That is real life. It's not a love poem. It's still ok.

Awareness is gold. Know the difference between friends and friendlies. Adjust your expectations accordingly. Friends have your back. Best friends will stick their neck out for you, without your even having to ask. Friendlies are a real fun time, but they won't keep your secrets. Fake friends will tell you everything you want to hear, and sometimes you'll even believe it, but they'll judge your poor decisions like they've never made the same bad choices themselves.


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