Kassidi Stynnett
November 7, 2023

What Kind of Friend Are You?

The definition of ‘friend’ varies from person to person but it’s subjective because anyone can decide that someone is their friend. Oxford’s definition is a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations. Today, everyone is connected via smartphone and/or the internet to bridge the gap of not being able [or wanting] to consistently show up in-person. It’s hard to believe that in my lifetime, landlines were a must-have, cell phones were few and far between and people still showed up to your house without calling if they couldn’t reach you. 

I say all of that to say that friendship goes hand in hand with communication and everyone’s personal idea of what being a friend entails. However, not everyone you gel with is your friend and I want more people to recognize that. It’s okay to call someone a mutual acquaintance, a coworker, a childhood friend, an ex or just someone you used to know. 

Here are the top five types that seem typical of adulthood:

  • The OG Best Friend – someone you talk to most frequently despite anything happening in your life.
  • The Childhood Best Friend – someone you’ve remained friends with since before puberty.
  • The Low Maintenance Friend – someone you can pick up where you left off without any second guessing at any time on any day.
  • The Work Best Friend – someone you grow fond of at work and they either do or don’t cross over into your personal life.
  • The Wayward Friend – someone you’re trying to hold onto that closeness with and it’s just not sticking; you’re just on different paths now.

I do think that this is what has evolved into normal, but I’d like to call out what is and isn’t helpful when it comes to friendship in adulthood; but let’s start with what is impacting everyone:

  1. We are ALL busy and burnt out—work, this inescapable economy, hustle culture, also what is in the food?
  2. Half of us have kids now or want kids and don’t have them yet and are stressed either way.
  3. We are trying to navigate romantic relationships which tend to take a front seat because you feel like you may be running out of time.
  4. BILLS
  5. Differing life stages
  6. We are all trying to keep up, with everything, all at once and it’s not sustainable.

What’s not helpful is friends who seem to always be in some type of competition. You know the ones that never truly congratulate you, but want to know everything that’s going on? What may not be so helpful is:

trauma dumping, being unreliable, always flipping the conversation on themselves, never showing solidarity or vulnerability through any adversity, not showing up or supporting your interests, or seemingly showing support for those more so in the same or similar life stages as them.

Bluntly, we are all products of who and what we grew up around; but once you are an adult, it is your responsibility to make sure you’re showing up for the people who are showing up for you. We are all the villain in someone’s book, but friendship is not mandatory. 

Here’s what’s helpful:

1. Focusing on the quality of a planned get-together

2. Sharing experiences

3. Respecting boundaries

4. Showing up for milestones and sentimental celebrations

5. Starting or continuing consistent gift giving

6. Apologizing

7. Not gossiping

8. Supporting their interests/goals

9. Being reliable in both times of celebration and hurt

10. Prioritizing communication in ways that work for your dynamic

Friendship in childhood is vastly different from what it is in adulthood. I have friends that don’t even acknowledge we were close at one point and have only met my three-year-old once or twice. I also have a friend that I met a couple years ago, that lives in a different state, and has sent gifts blindly as a celebration for my new job I started a few months ago and for my kid’s birthday. I also have friends that I can call up for anything at all, at any time no matter how much time has passed. It’s all a reflection of where everyone is in their life.

Most people cannot be happy for you if they’re struggling or if they perceive you are doing better than them. Most folks don’t know how to show up for people in pain or in celebration because they aren’t fully secure in who they are or where they’re headed. Overall, you decide what you need out of your friendships, and my advice is to be a GREAT friend and then leave people where they are so they can show you where they’d rather be or what they’d rather do.