Why Adult Friendships Are So Damn Hard


“Being a good friend and being good at adult friendships are not the same thing.”

That sentence.

It was the opening line in an article published by Man Repeller wherein the author, Amelia, admits to not always succeeding in the arena of adult friendships. Amelia confessed that she was often a below-average friend because being a grownup makes it really hard. She claimed it was hard to remember birthdays and baby showers, hard to send thank you cards, hard to turn up at dinners when she felt overworked, or to Face-Time a girlfriend who had recently moved overseas. In truth, I found all of this a little annoying – Amelia didn’t sound like a sub-par friend, she sounded like a terrible friend. In fact I felt more like the friend she was ditching than Amelia herself.

Female friendships are sacred to me. They outlast jobs, flatmates, pets and boyfriends. We see our girlfriends more than we see our own grandparents. But just like Amelia, I don’t really know how to maintain that sacredness as we grow up. Adult friendships are f*cking hard and we never admit to it because it’s such a complicated idea to unpack.

For one thing; no matter how much you love your friends, you have very little control over anything.

You can’t control where they live in the world or how good they are at communicating. You can’t control who they fall in love with or what new friends they make (and you definitely can’t control whether those new friends like you or really. don’t. like. you.). We go from spending eight hours a day with them at school, for thirteen consecutive years, to living in completely different time zones. We miss out on the mundaneness of each other’s lives. The fight they had with their mum, the crafting of a reply to a text message, the funny person they sat next to on the bus yesterday. And I love the mundane. One of my best friends lives in Sydney and during almost every single phone call one of us will say to the other, “Life would be so much easier if we just lived in the same place.”

My moon sign is Virgo so, by nature, I need to feel needed. I am constantly considering the state of my female friendships, worried that I’m not doing enough, making sure I’ve remembered every birthday and milestone, that I’ve sent messages when I know they’re needed. And unlike Amelia, being invited to a girlfriend’s birthday dinner is like a gold star on a Virgo’s sticker chart because it reminds us that we’re doing okay.

But I still know that at times I’m a really bad friend. I’ll forget something important, I’ll send a text when I can’t be bothered calling or I’ll call when I can’t be bothered Face-Timing. I’ll decline a dinner invitation when I need to introvert for a while and weeks often pass without a face-to-face interaction with someone I know for a fact I want to keep in my life forever.

So yes, adult friendships are messy and imperfect. But maybe it doesn’t actually matter how good or bad we are at them, maybe what matters most is whether or  not we attempt to protect them – knowing that sometimes we will fail.

I just don’t know. What do you think?

Header image by Holly Burgess for The Twenties Club