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Everyone needs friends in order to survive. No human can live on their own forever, with no friends or no companions. I've never been the best friend in the world. Due to my mental illness going untreated for so long, my relationships have suffered in the past. If I've learned anything, it's that keeping up a friendship is hard work.
Here are four truths about friendship that I've learned in my 21 years.
You don't have to connect on everything in order to have a connection with somebody.
So what if your friend likes biking and you don't? As long as you can agree to respect each other's interests and passions, there shouldn't be any problems when a difference of tastes arises. It really depends on the kinds of issues you disagree about, but if they are small enough, leave them alone! No one wants to argue with their friends all the time.
Variety is the spice of life. No one wants to be friends with someone who is a carbon copy of them, no matter what they say. It gets boring, and eventually you'll run out of things to talk about. Have an open mind and use your friends to bring you into new hobbies and introduce you to new ideas. Let your friend take you to a new cooking class, or take your friend for a hike, if that's what you're into. If you have other common interests, there's a chance you might like this new thing, too! It doesn't hurt to try.
It's okay to grow apart from people and leave them in your past.
One of the scariest parts of friendship is when you realize that you're growing apart. You become comfortable with your friends, and even if you don't really get along anymore, sometimes it's hard to see life without them. Everyone knows that breakups are hard.
But sometimes you need to be the brave one and cut the tether. You'll know when it's time, and if it feels like you two are headed in different directions, it may be better to part ways. You should always try to keep your friends, through thick and thin, but some differences just can't be reconciled.
And don't be afraid to cut toxic friends out of your life. I've had toxic friends and I've been the toxic friend — if something is bad for you, you don't continue to use it. If a friend hurts your feelings, makes you feel uncomfortable, or does anything to make you question your friendship on a regular basis, it's time to re-evaluate.
Finding a balance between too much time together and not enough time together is the key to solid and secure friendships.
Sometimes it can be so hard to navigate friendships, especially when you're first getting to know somebody. And because everybody is different, you really have to find the balance between too much and not enough. Friendships thrive on quality time, but too much of it can make you feel smothered and may spur feelings of resentment. And obviously, too little time together can just ruin a friendship in general.
If you haven't been able to find the balance, talk to your friends about it! It doesn't hurt to ask them their opinions on the amount of time you should spend together. For some people, it's every day. For others, it's a dinner at the same time every week. And make sure that you're clear about what you want. If seeing someone every day doesn't feel right to you, express your opinion. Your friend will appreciate you coming forward and saying how you feel, instead of them finding out later that you've been lying the whole time.
Communication is the most important part of your friendships, no matter what.
Coming off of my last point, communication is literally key. If something is bothering you, find a nice way to say it and speak your mind. Good friends appreciate honesty and can see past the mistakes. Good communication makes all great relationships, and if you don't have any of that, you may want to think about the kind of friend you are.
Friends should be people you feel comfortable with, and you should have no problem speaking to them about the things that bother you. We've all been in an awkward situation where someone tells a joke you find offensive, and you're not sure what to do. It's really as simple as saying, "Hey, that makes me uncomfortable. Can you try to not make jokes like that around me?"
People are all sorts of different and complicated and unique. Everyone admires people that are open and will tell them the truth. Do what's best for you, but be nice about it.