Here’s the thing: those songs like “That’s What Friends Are For,” and “You Got a Friend in Me,” and “You’ve Got a Friend,” those are all lies….
…let me back up.
All of those songs’ lyrics are true, but how you interpret them is a lie. Growing up, most of us whole-heartedly believed certain things about friendship that were true to the age that we were. But as we age, instead of aging our beliefs on how true friendships operate, we still measure a “good friendship” by sitting next to each other at lunch, sharing food, talking on the phone for hours, and always being available whenever that person calls our name.
That’s not what friendship is. Sure that’s what it can be, but c’mon…we’re adults, and we’re putting way too much pressure on ourselves.
So, let me free you.
Here are 7 Friendship Myths That Should Never Be Carried Into Adulthood
#7 Good friends get in trouble with you.
You know that old adage that ends with, “….a good friend will be sitting in jail with you?” Nope. Sure when we were younger, teachers would say stuff like, “They’re such good friends they even get in trouble together.” But those grade school antics don’t translate to our grown-up lives. There are certain decisions that we make where we need a person to tell us, “Maybe that’s not a good idea.” A good friend will tell you not to do something because, news flash: felonies are permanent and jail sentences aren’t glamorous. This myth helps perpetuate the idea that your friend will co-sign every single thing you do. This untruth, consequently, leads us to…
#6 Good friends support you no matter what.
What? No. A good friend will never support something that will obviously harm you, or others. And let’s be realistic for a moment (as if we aren’t being that already): some people can’t handle everything you throw at them, and that’s ok. It’s ok if you have a friend that can’t support you because they can’t handle what comes with that support. That doesn’t make them less than a great friend, and that shouldn’t put them on the, “I’m getting rid of all toxic people and doing me” list either. Everyone has strengths. Figure out how far that support goes, understand there are limits to it, and then act accordingly.
#5 Good friends don’t argue because they understand each other.
(Slow Blinks) Seriously, that’s…(sigh). If you’re friends with an actual human person, this “we don’t argue” thing is an erroneous belief. People have different opinions. Yes, you all are friends because you have a lot of things in common, but you also have a few differences. Sooner or later, you all are going to happen upon those differences. Stop thinking that the only way for you all to co-exist is to agree on every possible thing. Embrace the fact that you all may not agree on the same foods, or music, or style of entertainment. Politics shouldn’t be a deal breaker either…(whispers) but we all know that’s a deal breaker.
#4 Good friends make amazing romantic partners.
Yeah…no. Should you be friends with someone you’re in a relationship with? Yes. Should you be in a relationship with someone you’re friends with? Nope. Not always. I get it; they know your favorite color, they know your favorite flavor, they know that you still have your teddy bear from childhood in the corner of your room. So what! Just because they know you, doesn’t mean they’re supposed to be with you. Sometimes you actually do need to keep that friend in the friend zone, because that’s where they belong. (But in a genuine friendship way. Not in a jerky “keeping them there for perks” way.)
#3 Good friends will give you the shirt off their backs.
Some of you are already defensive because, how dare I….but this is false too. There are plenty of people out there that are willing to sacrifice everything they have in order to lift you up. Then there are others who recognize you’re in a bad place, and will do everything to lift you up, while also making sure they do not end up in the same spot. The problem with a person giving you “the shirt off their back,” is that they end up with no shirt on….and now you’re pretty much back at square one. There are ways to attack problems, and execute solutions, without putting the other person out. And because we’re all adults, we should look for that solution first.
#2 Good friends are always there when you need them.
Here’s a sobering fact: this is virtually impossible. Many friendships have failed due to the unrealistic expectation that, every time you need your friend, they’ll drop everything and come running. While every good friend will ache at the idea of you having tragedy in your life, they may not be able to put their own life on hold. Remember, it’s your world that stopped, not theirs. Sometimes, because lives have a tendency to deal simultaneous, bad hands to many people, a phone call might be all you receive. And that’s ok! Be mature enough for that to be ok.
#1 Good friends always have time for you, and will make time if they care.
There are these memes that travel around social media that vex me every time I see them. One says, “No one is ever too busy. If they really care, they’ll make time.” Another one reads, “ No matter how ‘busy’ someone’s day is, if they really care, they’ll make time for you.” While this myth is quasi-related to #2, it still deserves to be #1 on this list. The fact that the word “busy” is in quotes should say a lot about how people view others’ time. Sometimes, a person truly is that busy. As adults, we have lives, partners, children, jobs, aspirations, career changes, tragedy, medical issues…and all of that could literally happen on a Tuesday afternoon. There are times when true intentions get derailed because…well…life. That may translate to a missed phone call, an unreturned text message, cancelled plans, etc. And in certain circumstances, a person can look up and realize it’s suddenly several weeks later. But using your finger quotes when talking about how busy a person is just because you’re not that busy…that earns a side eye.
You may be one of those people reading this list thinking, “But Danita,” (because we should be on a first-name basis by now) “I do all this stuff for my friends and they never do any of this for me.” Good for you! You’re probably the nurturer or most likely the duct tape. While I commend you on your dedication, remember that these are your definitions. Good friendships, just like the people they are with, come in many shapes, forms and sizes. Understand them for who they are, and accept that deeds don’t define how much someone loves you.
…..Or maybe that’s the lesson you need to learn.
You know I’m right.