Social health is often the forgotten part of wellness because it is the one that isn’t just heavily focused on you. Social wellness includes having satisfying interpersonal relationships, friendships, and community. Relationships are just as important because the five people with who we spend the most time make up who we are.
Speaking about friendship isn’t anything new on this site. Some examples of posts I’ve written in the past expressing my thoughts on friendships and how I viewed them those times will be listed so you can check them out, and you can see a shift in how I view the relationship.
While friendships are a topic relevant at any age, your 20’s is arguably one of the most crucial. In elementary school, they push kids to be social because our brain development is at an early stage that teaches people etiquette and social cues that they will use. However, from that point, there are still many years to make friends. While school is a place common to make friends in classes, during those ages you are still exploring interests so you can make friends in clubs, sports teams, or any extracurricular activity.
Side note: I do acknowledge covid did take away some of that time and I would love to explore this in detail.
In your 20’s it’s like this weird in-between where you are trying to adjust to adulthood. Some of us are in college, some of us learned a trade, some of us have to work and go to school but the point is regardless of what we are doing we are all trying to do this huge transition that we had to decide by time we graduated from high school. There will be a lot of self-revelations at that time. Maybe you will still have a close bond with your high school friends or even childhood best friends, but sadly it’s not a guarantee.
There doesn’t need to be some huge drama for that to happen, sometimes feelings and connections change.
Here are the signs
1. The only thing you have in common now is "the past".
Friends can have different interests, but to have a good friendship you need to have things you can talk about. If most of your conversations go with “remember when ___ this happened” and you can only relate when speaking of the past, that is a huge sign. It means your friendship isn't really in the present moment. Of course, it’s fun to reminisce with friends and talk about all the great moments you had, but the question is are you creating new memories with them? If all you can talk about is your past, your friendship hasn't progressed since then. Moments with a friend don’t have to be this major event or even a crazy night, it can be as simple as a conversation. If you can’t talk to someone about things you enjoy in the present or anything relevant to you, can the friendship be as strong as it once was?
2. There is a disconnection when you speak.
Feeling disconnected in relationships is something that is talked about all the time, but not as much when it comes to friendships. When you feel a disconnection, there is usually a change involved. Sometimes it’s a change in yourself where your standards of what you deem as a quality friendship shifts or even just a lifestyle/ value change. Sometimes a person recognizes if something is disproportionate such as the time, energy, and care a person puts in. Friendships are still relationships, and it takes a lot of effort to put in. As you get older, it is common to recognize where you consider someone in the scale of friendship. That is why it is said that to feel satisfaction, you only need three to five people on average.
3. You find yourself not trying to hang out with them.
Side note: When I speak about this, I know Covid over this past year has contributed to this. However, with vaccines being distributed, places slowly opening up, and just weather becoming better- there are many opportunities to reconnect.
When was the last time you reached out to someone and made plans for the next time you'll see them? Sometimes this is unintentional if you are the more shy or introverted friend. Here’s a warning: if you are never the friend who reaches out, the person who is will eventually grow tired. Even if you don’t want to be out anywhere too busy, invite them to somewhere peaceful like a park, go for a walk, or even invite them to have a day in with you. Spending time with someone doesn’t always have to be in restaurants. However, if you find yourself purposely avoiding making plans with them, maybe there’s a reason for it.
4. If you do interact with them, it’s only in groups.
This goes for both in-person and digital. Is there someone in your group chat that you find it hard to talk to on your own? If you message them individually, it’s dry. If you are with them, it feels unnatural. Friendships like that are only existing because of mutuals. It is a red flag when you can’t have a good time with a person individually.
5. You don’t feel satisfied by the friendship and crave new friends.
As a business major, I know there is a critically important aspect to network and expand. Although, it has to be acknowledged that when you attempt to grow your network, it isn’t about replacing connections but expanding them. If you find yourself wishing for more friends, take a second to listen to your thought patterns. Do you just want more friends or are you looking for ones that you feel more of a connection with? Four things make a friendship bond strong: honesty, interaction, support, and positivity. When one of those bonds is broken, there is a lack of fulfillment so you search for it.
6. You don’t feel supported.
This is a major aspect of bond like I previously mentioned. I saw a girl tweet: Sometimes, strangers are more supportive than friends will ever be. I sat with that statement because it is true. I think the issue lies in a lot of times friends (especially long-time ones) will see a version of yourself that you longer resonate with. Strangers don’t know that version of you hence when you are going after things, it doesn’t seem out of ordinary. They don’t know you personally so they just see action whereas friends may question “who is this”. It’s true when you have a friend, you most likely have a perception of them so when they break that image it feels like they are breaking the relationship too. Here’s the catch with this, if you truly care about a person, you get to know that version. If anyone wants you to go back to “the old you” because it makes them uncomfortable, that is not a person you want to keep in your life. As long as you are happy and not harming anyone, a person who truly cares will take the time to understand and support whoever you want to be and whatever you want to do.
7. You aren’t fighting for the friendship anymore.
No explanation is needed for this one, everyone has a point where they are exhausted. You will know when you reach yours.
Give yourself room to grow
I'm turning 20 later on this year, but everything I've said still applies. Everything in my life at this moment feels transitional. When I first started writing this blog post, I received a letter from my high school. It turned out to be the letter for my future self that we had to write during one of our advisory days. On top of that, I am working two internships at the moment, I am receiving my AAS in Advertising and Marketing communications, I am moving on in my bachelors to get a BS in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing, and I’ve been getting all these signs that I’m at an end of a cycle and a new beginning is approaching rapidly.
When reading it, I 100% did not resonate with it because that version feels so far gone. A year ago, I was still dealing with the trauma that environment left me. This year I didn’t even cry on the day when the first person I loved hurt me, I didn’t even think about it and honestly forgot about everything. The letter I wrote at the time was very supportive, but also sort of petty. “Remember when we didn’t think we would make it past 16? We did. Remember when we didn’t think we would get over_____? We did. And I know you will get over ______ too. You made it so far and I want to keep proving people wrong”. While it had good intentions, I don’t even resonate with that message anymore.
It was so coded in how much I relied on people for validation and how much I felt I just had to prove myself. I already talked about this in the art of letting go, but I choose what’s part of my story. I will no longer allow toxic people’s voices to overshadow my own in my life. And it goes the same for my happiness.
In the letter, I also say “Don’t lose touch with your family from high school. They deserve your time.”
The truth is I don’t feel like that anymore, but it’s not because of anything a person did. I just changed, and so have what I value in relationships.
I used to be so willing to help others at the sacrifice of my wellbeing. I still believe kind gestures are necessary, but just not at the expense of myself. I am always just the "therapist friend", who just listens to everyone's issues. There aren’t a lot of people who I feel like I can go to and it’s damaging. Maturing is realizing you aren’t obligated to give your energy to anyone. You need to prioritize things and people that bring out positivity in you. No one is deserving of your time, because time is valuable, and when it comes to interpersonal relationships, time is earned. It takes two people to uphold a relationship, and for it to feel healthy it can’t just be one person always reaching out, making the plans, or having to call.
I also want to add that even if you outgrow friendships: it doesn’t mean anyone person was wrong and one person is right. It also doesn’t mean there was any bad person either. It just means who you are is different, and that is not a bad thing, and it’s not deeper than that. You can outgrow people and still have a lot of love and respect for them. At one moment, they were just who you needed.
That is all for today and I hope you found this helpful. Remember to subscribe to my Youtube channel, and follow my Instagram and Twitter to connect and stay up to date. I am excited about next week's blog post so make sure you come back next Saturday. Until then, there’s a lot more content on my youtube channel. I hope you have a good day, evening or night.
Until next time,
xoxo Lay 💋