Award-nominated Brum-based style blogger. Keen on sustainability + minimalism. Big fan of chocolate-coated pretzels.

Am I Sh*t at Friendship?

Am I Sh*t at Friendship?

Unfortunately, I’m sure most people reading this will have asked themselves this exact question (or something along the same line). I wanted to write this post because questioning my friendship quality is something I do extremely often.

I’ve been reflecting on the pressure I feel to constantly be ‘the perfect friend’, both on social media and in real life. Whilst I’m aware I’m extremely thoughtful, I always worry about whether I could be a better friend, or if I’m not as good a friend as someone else.

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Where does the pressure to be ‘the perfect friend’ come from?

As the phenomenon of self-exposure continues to grow thanks to the likes (literally) of every social media platform, the authenticity of each post or memory becomes more and more dubious. Now that we’re able to share pretty much every part of our lives with everyone and anyone, therein lies the opportunity to subconsciously create a curated version of ourselves. This online persona is accidentally an extremely complex formulaic combination of our favourite parts of ourselves; well, the characteristics and thoughts that we want to share with the world.

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However, the ability to create this endlessly effervescent persona leads us to the desire to perpetuate our current feelings of self-confidence in one area through to every area we can. Before you know it, the people you follow have turned into adverts not only for their work, but for themselves as people. The combination of the determination to appear ‘fun, reliable and easy to work with’ alongside the disintegration of the wall between our ‘work-selves’ and our ‘real-selves’ has led to the pressure to be an all-rounded excellent person in every way, shape and form. It is no longer enough to be good at what you do; you have to be an exceptionally good person, too.

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When we think of being a ‘good person’, it largely centres on how we relate to other people and interact with those around us. When we do so successfully (for lack of a better word), we find ourselves building new friendships (which is always so exciting!).

I’m noticing more and more the way in which people discuss their friendships (particularly online), and I’ve divided them into three categories, as well as a solution for dealing with each one if you often find yourself doubting your own worth as a friend as a result, like I do.

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Friendship Portrayal 1.0 | The Name-Dropping Friendship

The name-dropping trend is potentially the most timeless piece in the ‘I’m worth your time’ capsule wardrobe that humanity has been trying to navigate and pull off successfully since forever. This one tends to manifest itself in the ‘I’m friends with X, so I’m clearly a great person!’ type of manner. Not only does this lower your own feelings of self-worth, it causes them to rely on someone else’s approval.

The Solution

Know that the fact that this person feels the need to mention someone else’s name to push their own validity isn’t a super reassuring sign. Furthermore, if this person really is their friend they wouldn’t be mentioning them in a way which focuses on their status, rather than who they are as a person.

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Friendship Portrayal 2.0 | The Instant Best Friends

This one is particularly prevalent online. The ‘we just met and we’re already best friends!’ friendship is one I find particularly hard to get my head around. Of course, it’s wonderful to see people click and find their ‘tribe’, but this kind of post does leave me feeling like every time I meet someone we should have an instant connection, because if we don’t, I’m not as approachable and fun as I should be.

The Solution

Remember that it’s highly unlikely that the friendship is as deep as they’re portraying it – it’s impossible to instantly be 100% connected on every level; you need time to get to know each other first! Keep hanging out and, if the friendship is meant to be, it’s meant to be!

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Friendship Portrayal 3.0 | The Since-the-Womb Best Friends

The portrayal of these friendships can be difficult to handle if, like me, your past is something you want to move on from. When you’ve had a tough time at a young age, the friends you made then are either going to be your friend forever, or drift from you at the speed of light. Both of these situations are natural and, whilst the ratio is always off-balance, having just one friend who stays by your side is all you need.

The Solution

Please don’t feel like you’ve done anything wrong because you don’t have ten friends whom you’ve known and loved since the womb. Know that when other people talk about these groups, they simply got very, very lucky; and that’s so wonderful for them. If you find someone who totally gets you – no matter what age you’re at – that friendship is just as valid, loving and valuable as one that lasts much longer.

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How to Handle the Pressure

I want this post to act as a magnifying lens through which we can analyse and discuss why we feel friendship-related pressure (which, to be honest, is incredibly paradoxical considering the very notion of friendship).

If you find yourself feeling the same way that I often do, please remind yourself that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you as a person or as a friend – this pressure comes from comparisons against friendship portrayals that are – much like online personas – highly curated and definitely not as ‘perfect’ as they seem.

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Surround yourself with people that bring out the best in you; people that make you happy when you see that they’re happy; people that make you laugh till you cry; people that are their for you no matter what. If you can tick these boxes, you’re doing friendship right. I promise.

 

illustrations: Tyler Feder

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32 Comments

  1. October 14, 2018 / 3:15 AM

    It’s difficult to read about friendships (especially when you’ve recently been ghosted). I read your post about friendships that last a minute and felt utterly heartbroken. I seem to only really make “1 minute friends” and think, ‘finally, someone who gets me’. You open up, spend a couple of years having the best time together then… pooofff! They just up and leave me. I’m not sure I can be okay with that when it happens so often. Ghosting is devastating. It literally put me in hospital twice. It’s easy to dismiss the people who leave as cruel or toxic but it does make you wonder am I a shit friend? Am I the problem? And if I am… Why can’t you just tell me where I’m going wrong so I can fix it?

    As an older millennial, I often feel caught between 2 world’s. The one where you have to accept that you’re constantly being upgraded and judged based on your social media and status… And the one where we just say things as they are. Having younger friends always came naturally for me because I seemed to start my life 10 years later than my peers but the difference in how people are treated is shocking. This is supposed to be a kinder more compassionate generation and I see more negatives behaviours than I used to. Perhaps because most people just hide behind their screens and refuse to accept that they are hurting others by not replying.
    This phenomenon is probably linked in with dating. The way people treat people is appaulling.

    Friendship is not like casual sex. You can’t just walk out when you get bored without saying something… A constructive criticism at the very least. I’m shocked that it is no longer considered rude or hurtful to just discard friendships like they mean nothing.

    Still so much to unpack here but it’s an interesting start that you’ve made, digging into the world of modern friendships.

    Evy x

    • Nati
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 11:30 AM

      Hi Evy, I’m so glad you found the post to be a sort of food for thought. I’m so sorry you’ve had such difficult and trying friendship experiences – I tell myself that sometimes you’ve got to filter through the people you don’t click with (or people who don’t turn out to be who you thought they were) to find the ones you connect with and can trust. They don’t come often, but they’re always worth the wait. Thank you for sharing your thoughts – it’s really lovely to find the post sparking conversation. x

  2. Brooke
    August 25, 2018 / 7:57 PM

    I love this post! I’m forever asking myself this question, as I have no contact with any friends from my past. I always blamed myself and assumed it was me that was the problem but now I’m at uni and have friends for 2 years and I’m finding my place.

    Brooke x
    http://www.brooke-pearson.co.uk

    • Nati
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 12:00 PM

      Hey Brooke! I have a very similar situation and I’m really glad you found this post reassuring. x

  3. August 21, 2018 / 4:02 PM

    I don’t have close friends but associates…that might sound bad. BUT I know what kind of person I am and know, I do find it hard to even respond to messages, on any platform before that person decides they no longer want to be friends with me. And more times out of 10 I’m like whatever. I don’t like to feel pressured into friendships and whatever it means to be a good friend. I just know that now and again I like to hang out and have a belly aching laugh! Great post Nati : ) xo

    http://www.juanitalikes.com

    • Nati
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 12:02 PM

      Hi Juanita! Thank you for your comment – so good to hear that you know and do what works for you. Laughter should always be an essential in every friendship! x

  4. August 20, 2018 / 9:26 AM

    This is such an interesting post. I’ve been feeling the same way lately and I’m not even talking about the number of friends I have. I will have to take note of your message in this article. 😊

    • Nati
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 12:02 PM

      Hey lovely! So glad you found the post useful x

  5. August 20, 2018 / 9:15 AM

    This was such a beautifully written, honest and relatable post which I definitely needed to read right now. I’ve always struggled with friendships, drifting from one group to the other, falling out with old friends but thankfully coming out stronger on the other side. I still wonder if I’m good enough as a friend sometimes and it’s posts like this that make me realise that I am. I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on friendships these days, especially online. People paint this beautiful picture of how they became friends on or offline and I feel like if others don’t have the same story, the comparison instantly starts. When I was younger, I thought that having a big friendship group was the be all and end all but soon realised that wasn’t the case. I now have a small amount of really close friends who I’m so grateful for and I know they’re grateful for me too. Quality over quantity! We’re all great friends in our own way, I feel like when you truly connect with someone no matter in how much time, it’s that way that beautiful friendships are formed. Great read Nati, I’m sure many people will be able to relate. Loved reading!xx

    Elin | https://myblurredworld.com

    • Nati
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 12:03 PM

      Hi Elin! Thank you so much for your kind words and for opening up about something so personal. You are awesome, and I know that just from reading your blog! x

  6. August 19, 2018 / 10:11 PM

    I loved reading this post, I’ve always struggled with friendships – more so female friendships and I definitely feel the need to portray myself a certain way online, it’s nice to relate to someone for a change x

    http://www.sheintheknow.co.uk

    • Nati
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 12:04 PM

      So glad you like the post, lovely – thank you for your comment x

  7. Outlandish Blog
    August 19, 2018 / 7:19 PM

    This was such a great text! I just spent half of this morning wondering if I in fact could have done so much more as my best friend’s bridesmaid. Somehow I managed to compare myself at one of the other bridesmaids who took complete responsibility of helping the bride out especially with toilet visits which were rather challenging with the big, beautiful dress. I worried if she might think me “a worse friend” because I didn’t even offer to do that… But I know she would never think like that. It’s just weird how some insecurities sometimes shine through in the most unexpected ways.

    Teresa x
    outlandishblog.com

    • Nati
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 12:05 PM

      Thank you so much Teresa – it sounds like the post was well timed in reassuring you that you did an absolutely brilliant job, and she wouldn’t have chosen you if she didn’t think you’re wonderful just the way you are! x

  8. August 19, 2018 / 5:53 PM

    I loved reading this and sometimes second guess my friendshipness!

    • Nati
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 12:05 PM

      It’s an easy rabbit hole to go down! x

  9. August 19, 2018 / 5:15 PM

    This is so so true!! I know the feeling and can relate completely! My message is: always be yourself and then true friendships will form when the time is right xo

    • Nati
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 12:05 PM

      Hey lovely! Such an important message – I agree 100%! x

  10. August 19, 2018 / 4:21 PM

    This post is amazing. You said everything so accurately because I, myself, do feel like a ‘not good enough’ friend quite a lot and I def think it’s the pressure around us.
    Faustantica.x // faustantica.wordpress.com

    • Nati
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 12:06 PM

      Thank you so, so much Faustantica – that really means a lot. Trust me, you’re doing great – if you’re ever in doubt, I hope this post is the reminder you need! x

  11. August 19, 2018 / 4:19 PM

    Hi Nati! First off your writing is so in depth, makes me feel so educated. Totally understand. I used to feel like where made at me way more than I thought. I needed to let go of those feelings because those insecure vibes are a turn off for others. I agree there is pressure to be the perfect friend, spending an adequate amount of time with people on/offline but we just have to set boundaries and know that real recognize real. If we’re being genuine people will naturally understand and appreciate our efforts. I try not to call everyone I meet a friend. I like to develop a raw genuine relationship first, it minimizes the pressure. Nice read!

    Natonya | http://www.justnatonya.wordpress.com

    • Nati
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 12:07 PM

      Hi Natonya! Thank you so much for such a lovely comment – it’s wonderful to read that you’re enjoying my blog content so much! I know exactly what you mean and I’m so glad you found the post reassuring in its resonation with you personally! x

  12. Fatimah
    August 19, 2018 / 3:38 PM

    Brilliant how you have explained all this, you’re right there does seem to be a lot of pressure etc on how to maintain a friendship….

    FATIMAH • ROSEYGOLDBOX
    http://www.roseygoldbox.blogspot.co.uk

    • Nati
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 12:07 PM

      Thank you Fatimah! x

  13. August 19, 2018 / 2:17 PM

    This was definitely a post I needed to read! I constantly feel friendship-related pressure and your last category ‘since-the-womb best friends’ is one that I’ve always worried about. I see so many people with big groups of friends that they’ve known forever and it’s always made me feel a bit sad that I only have one or two close friends from childhood. I love the way you’ve given solutions to each category and your advice is spot-on! 🙂

    • Nati
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 12:08 PM

      Hey Leah! I’m so glad you found it helpful – that category is certainly a tricky one and it can often feel like you’ve missed the boat with it, but trust me: more time does not mean a stronger friendship. It’s how much you both put into it x

  14. August 19, 2018 / 1:57 PM

    This is such an awesome post.
    I definitely have a lot of moments when I’m literally considering whether I’m a good friend, been like that all my life tbh… mostly to do with my health restrictions tho.

    I love how you mentioned the ‘portrayal’ then ‘solutions’, really great writing. Look forward to more of your posts

    Laura 🌻❤

    • Nati
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 12:09 PM

      Thank you Laura! I think it’s important that we remind each other that we all feel this way, and talk about it really openly. So glad you like the structure of the post, too. Have a wonderful week! x

  15. August 19, 2018 / 1:16 PM

    That’s a really interesting read, and I love the illustrations they work really well

    • Nati
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 12:10 PM

      Thank you! x

  16. August 19, 2018 / 10:58 AM

    You’re right. Toxic friendships are not worth your time at all!

    • Nati
      Author
      October 15, 2018 / 12:10 PM

      Agreed x 100! x

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