How’s your week going? I’m nearly done with summer quarter – in one week I’ll be taking the final exam and then I’m HOME FREE. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing for the rest of the summer after that, but that discussion is for another time. 😉
During the first week of August, I had come across an article on the New York Times called “Do Your Friends Actually Like You?” (s/o to Grace for retweeting the article on Twitter!). If you haven’t already, go give it a read because it will kind of really blow your mind, and then come back and finish reading my blog post regarding a response to the topic.
Mind you, this article hit me pretty hard. It made me stop in horror: do my friends really like me? Do I even have friends?! It’s pretty mind blowing, and I think through this blog post, I’ll be able to flesh out my thoughts.
The first thing that freaked me out? “Recent research indicates that only about half of perceived friendships are mutual. That is, someone you think is your friend might not be so keen on you. Or, vice versa, as when someone you feel you hardly know claims you as a bestie” (Murphy). Like, what?! What does that even mean? Does that mean that my life is a LIE? Who really are my friends, then? To me, this was like betrayal, a stab in the gut, a nightmare. There’s no way that the friendships I’ve forged are only HALF real. But I guess that’s the truth.
Usually I can gauge if people actually consider me as a friend when they initiate to get coffee with me or to hangout, but does that really mean anything? What if they’re like Taylor Swift and Drake who only want “strategic” friendships, as noted in the article? What if people are just using me as a “friend” to get to where they want in life? Is that what friendship is? Because I had thought friendship was about finding people who make you a better person – wait, isn’t that being strategic? Goodness save me from my neverendingcirclesofthoughts.
This led me to my next thought: okay, if only half of the people I consider friends also think the same way, who are those people?
Later on in the article, Murphy includes a quote from British evolutionary psychologist Dunbar that “’there is a limited amount of time and emotional capital we can distribute, so we only have five slots for the most intense type of relationship…People may say they have more than five but you can be pretty sure they are not high-quality friendships.'” This calms me down a little more. Growing up, I’ve always heard that when making friends, always choose quality over quantity. So, I’m good on that front.
Or am I?
My best friend from the womb to this day has and always will be my twin sister. That’s a given. No one can compete with her because we’re identical twins and it just makes sense. I tell her literally everything and there’s nothing that we don’t know about each other. We’ve experienced funny, embarrassing situations that I will probably never experience with anyone else.
Other than her, though? I thought I had a BFF throughout middle school, but we definitely drifted apart after we went to separate high schools. We still see each other from time to time just because we danced at the same studios in the summer time, but at this point, we’re more like acquaintances. And now that I’m thinking about it, I wonder if she even considered me as her best friend in middle school. I was never the type to get BFF necklaces or bracelets from Claire’s, so it was never physically “established” or anything.
Come high school and the first two years was definitely difficult on the friend-making front. What group did I fit in best? Who did I vibe with? It wasn’t until junior year that I started spending time with this girl who went to my middle school and we started taking dance classes together and we just got really close.
For awhile, I was pretty sure we would be best friends for a long time. She is well-liked/loved by a lot of people, and of course when college came around, we didn’t talk as much anymore. I Snapchatted her every once in awhile throughout the year, but there wasn’t much contact. I’m sure she considers me a friend, but on what level?
In the article, the psychologist also talks about “layers of friendship”, the topmost layer being a spouse or BEST friend who you talk to daily, and then the layers following that are your less-close friends, and then acquaintances, and then strangers.
I don’t think it’s necessary to classify every single person in your life into these categories – like why does it even matter? But I know that deep down, I care. I want to know. Who are these people in my life and who am I to them? Better yet, do I even have five solid people I can say are my closest friends in my life? The answer is… no. I have a “friend group” from high school, but I don’t really consider them best friends. I don’t tell them everything. I don’t talk to them every day. I don’t know everything about them. The truth is, I’m okay with not having those five slots of high-quality friendships filled up at the age of 19 (almost 20!). In fact, I’m relieved that those five slots are not filled up. If they were, I wouldn’t have room in my life to make new friends.
If I’m being completely honest, I think only one, maybe two, maybe three slots are filled. Again, it depends on the reciprocity of it all. Forging high-quality friendships take time and consistency at first, and in an ever-changing environment, I’m struggling with that right now, to be honest. But college is the best time to do that, I think. After college, I’m heading to full-on into adulting mode and working all the time and it’s pretty hard to make life-long friendships at work. At the bar? I highly doubt it.
What’s even more pressing on my mind is the fact that in less than a month, I’ll be in a sorority. Sororities are the essence of friendship and sisterhood. I’m not even sure what to make of this. A huge part of me is incredibly excited about the fact that I’ll be meeting tons of girls who are like-minded and similar to me, hence why I’m in the same house as them. But another part of me understands that a lot of the friendships will feel like an obligation because we’re “sisters”. Will they be real? How many of the friendships I form will actually be high-quality and lifelong? Will I manage to fill up one, two, or more slots? I wishwishwish; I sincerely hope so.
What’s your take on this friendship article? Are you having a friendship crisis like I am? Are your five slots filled up?