Friendship is something that's a part of life, ever since you were a little kid. You might not even remember your first friend, but it's safe to say that you had one. As we grow and develop, so do our friendships.
The funny thing is that friendships are generally not something people really think about. They're just there, right? Not quite. It's hard to make friends in your 20s, and when you realize that, it's safe to say you'll hold onto your buddies for longer.
Well, speaking as someone who has gone through the wringer trying to find their clique, I can honestly say that a lot of the problems people have are tied to the fact that they just don't get the true way friendship is supposed to work.
Through the years, I've learned a lot about having friends. Here's several lessons about friendship everyone should remember when selecting their friends, keeping them, or leaving them.
"Pretty" doesn't make friends worth keeping.
I see this a lot, and to a point, I have also experienced it quite a bit myself. Sadly, this is one of the hardest lessons of friendship to learn, because when you learn it, you'll realize you're a jerk.
A lot of people, particularly younger folks, choose their friends by how good they look posing next to them, what parties they have access to, or some other "cool factors."
Let me give you a hint: Chasing Instagram likes will not make you happy in the long run. The people who choose friends this way will often see their "besties" fall to the wayside once they gain weight, lose a prestigious job, or otherwise drop off the "cool" spectrum.
A lot of people who are very troubled can be the best friends you'll ever have—but not all of them.
We've all heard stories of people who got into hard drugs or ended up taking a wrong turn in life. A lot of those people eventually lose the friends they had beforehand, especially if what they are going through isn't something easy to relate to.
Truth be told, a lot of the people who see those friendships end deserve it. Addiction, gang affiliation, trauma, and other things like it can make someone a pretty awful person. However, that's not always true.
Speaking as someone who is deeply troubled and has other deeply troubled friends, some of the kindest, most generous, and caring people I've ever met are going through hell right now or have seen hell with their own eyes.
I really wish more people would understand that being troubled and having trauma doesn't negate a person's good qualities. Sadly, most people won't see that because we live in a society that judges at a breakneck speed.
That being said, you really should pick your friends carefully.
A good friend of mine said, "You are who you friends are." Take a look at your friends. Are they doing the things you want to be doing in 10 years? Are they successful, or are they losers?
I'm happy to say that, in their own bizarre way, most of my friends are extremely successful in following their passions. They made the starving artist thing work, and followed their hearts. Most people I know can't say that, and that's why I respect the hell out of my friends.
One of the hardest lessons about friendship you'll learn is that you often will become your friends. Are they the kind of people you would want to be?
Sometimes, success can tear friendships apart.
I've seen this with my ex's friendship circle. When they all got married and had kids, my ex stayed single and childfree. He then got a better job than what they had, and they started to use him as free childcare because, "It's not like you're busy."
Eventually, they started getting jealous to the point of making snide comments. He became little more than a babysitter/ATM, and eventually cut them off. Had he remained unsuccessful and financially unstable, they would have, likely, still treated him well.
Frankly, he was right to cut those people off. Real friends are happy for others when they succeed, and don't start using them as an ATM.
Some friendships don't last forever, and that's okay—sometimes.
Many lessons about friendship will be taught to you by people who won't stay in your life. That's okay, too. A wise man once said, "Friendships can be there for a reason, a season, or a lifetime."
In other words, some of the friends you have right now won't be around in about three years or so. It's okay, too. People can and do grow apart.
What's not okay is when the friendship ends over something stupid, like clique drama. Make no mistake about it; playing Mean Girls in real life will never lead you to happiness.
You can't dump anger and emotions into friends all the time.
I had a problem with this, especially with work friends. I'd rage, bitch, and moan about issues I was having, then eventually, they backed away. People generally don't want to be friends with negative people, and it's up to you to make sure you're fun to be around.
Speaking from personal experience, this is one of those lessons about friendship you should learn the easy way. Doing it the hard way will leave you friendless.
Your best friends are the ones who would immediately step up in case of an emergency.
Best friends are rare, and frankly, most people don't deserve the "bestie" title. They aren't always the people you constantly hang out with, either. They're the people you know would step up and help if you were in a serious emergency.
If you have a friend who would let you stay at their place when you're homeless, you have a best friend. If you have a friend who would visit you in the hospital or drive you there, you have a best friend.
If you don't? Well, it might be time to actually strengthen the friendships you have.
Beware of takers.
Some people just take, take, take—and never give back. Do you have someone like that in your life? Yep, that's not a friend. That's a parasite! The same can be said of friends who are compulsive liars, or friends who constantly talk about others behind their backs.
Friends suck when they aren't real friends, you know? Sadly, one of the most commonly learned lessons about friendship deals with realizing when someone isn't a friend, but a leech instead.
To have friends, you need to act like a friend.
This is something that most people just don't get. Friendship is a two-way street. If you want friends, you need to reach out to people and ask them to hang out. You need to make friends and talk to people. Listen to their stories, give them presents on their birthday, and do other fun things.
If you act like dead weight, people will treat you like dead weight and drop you. Trust me, you don't want to experience a friendship breakup. Friendship breakups are worse than romantic ones.
Money can't buy you friends.
Not real ones, anyway.
A lot of people I know are very wealthy, or are middle class. They are also very lonely. The "friends" they have aren't really friends, either. They're more or less people they talk to who judge them based on what they buy or do. It's pretty sad.
I also know quite a few people who have "friends," but who only are friends with people because they have money. Sure, it's nice to have a rich friend or two, but when you are only friends due to your paycheck, that's pretty brutal.
It's times like this that I thank my lucky stars that my closest friends knew me when I slept on the streets. I never have to worry about them liking me only for my money, that's for sure!
No boyfriend or girlfriend is worth giving your friends up for.
Does your boyfriend or girlfriend try to keep you away from your friends, citing jealousy issues or them "being a bad influence?" Were your friends always supportive of you and kind to you? If so, then you need to dump that partner ASAP.
Homies over hoes, all the way.
Partners who try to get you to cut off ties with good friends aren't good. This is actually one of the first signs that a relationship will be abusive. If your partner can't handle you having friends, it may be time to call it quits.
True friends don't judge you.
I'll say this once, and I'll say it again. Real friends do not judge you—at least, not on petty things. Petty things include what you eat, how much you weigh, where you work, what you do, or if you don't have the latest "fancy" clothes.
That's the awesome things about friends. They will love you for you, not for what you wear, eat, or look like. If you can't talk to your friends without feeling judged, chances are that they aren't your real friends at all.
A real friend will tell you when you messed up to your face, rather than behind your back.
I'm not going to lie, it takes a lot of guts to tell someone that you're pissed at them or that they made you uncomfortable. It's not a conversation that anyone really wants to have.
A surprisingly large amount of people will never tell you what you did to your face, leaving you left guessing in the dark. This is a pretty brutal way of handling things and also happens to be extremely disrespectful.
People who do this kind of shit don't usually have the capacity to be good friends unless it's easy. Since friendships are all about who will be there when the going gets rough, it's safe to say that they can't be friends.
I learned this through friendship breakups, and frankly, it was one of the best lessons about friendship I've ever learned.
Quality, not quantity, matters.
Here's one of the lessons about friendship that seems all the more relevant now that we live in the age of Facebook and Instagram, right? It's better to have five good friends than 500 Facebook friends.
Real friends are very rare, so if you have them, enjoy them. Don't take them for granted.