How To Navigate Friendship As An Adult


It's hard, but it doesn't have to be

I've been thinking about friendship a lot lately—forming new ones, strengthening old ones, letting go of broken ones. I've been thinking about it a lot because I'm of the age where my friends are entering into different areas of their lives: getting married, buying houses, considering having kids. And, as such, it feels harder to maintain the same connection we had when we weren't bogged down by responsibility.

"The busyness and structure of adulthood just isn't set up for helping us to make and keep friends," friendship expert and therapist Miriam Kirmayer says. This makes me think of a quote I saw recently (on the internet, where else), that reads: "Adult friendship is saying 'let me call you back' hanging up and calling back 3-4 days later and no one takes it personally." If you're over the age of 24, this probably hits home—and that's because it's true! Adult friendships require adjustments, which can be hard and complicated and confusing. But it doesn't have to be.

As Shasta Nelson, founder of and author of Friendships Don't Just Happen!, explains, generally, there are three requirements for a well-rounded friendship: positivity, which means, "the relationship needs to feel enjoyable, you need to feel more good than bad after we hang out with each other." Next is consistency, which is "the regularity and the history that we build with each other through our interactions." Last is vulnerability, which is "our self-disclosure and sharing or feeling seen by each other."

All three are important to start a friendship, but absolutely necessary if that friendship is going to deepen. As Nelson sees it, the three requirements can be placed on a triangle, with positivity on the bottom and consistency and vulnerability on the sides. Most friendships, she says, will have the "fun" aspect and not much else. These might be your work friends or your not close sorority sisters, your friend you only hit up when you want to go to the movies, or the one who's always down to go to a concert. These can be your close friends, but usually, they're the ones you keep on your periphery and hang out with for something specific. They might slide up and down the triangle at points, but, for the most part, they're surface-level friends, and that's just fine because surface-level friends are necessary.

Then there are the friends who land on top. Those are the few with whom you've been close since college or childhood and with whom you share more than just a surface-level connection. These are the number ones, the BFFs; the future bridesmaids and godparents to your children; the friends with whom you share almost everything. As a child, everyone you meet is your best friend, but with time and age, you realize only a handful make the cut. That's not to say these relationships are perfect. The positivity is established, but maybe as we get older, the consistency is lacking and, as a result, the vulnerability. This is normal, Nelson says. "We actually have to create our own consistency, and we have to initiate and plan and schedule to see each other when we get older, so that can be harder," Nelson explains. "But one of the things that can get easier over time is that we get more practice at self-disclosure and being seen and knowing who we are. It gets easier to articulate things when we feel more confident, and that comes with age sometimes."

It can feel weird and even a bit slimy to categorize your friends, but Nelson says it's important because it helps to establish healthy expectations. "I would say that most friendship disappointments or fights or breakups come down to us wanting them to have behaved like a best friend and they didn't act like that," Nelson explains. "And so it's a mismatch of our expectations of what we hoped for the friendship and what we had created or developed in that friendship." Like, for example, your work friends don't need to be the same friends who help you pack up your boxes and move, and your book club friends aren't supposed to be the ones who show up when you break up with your boyfriend. "That doesn't mean they're bad friends, that just means that the only thing you've built up with them so far is book club," Nelson says.

Another reason categorizing your friend group becomes helpful is it forces you to look at the quality of your friendships. Nelson explains that there's an "ebb and a flow" to every friendship and that not all last forever. In fact, she says, one study shows that we replace half our close friends every seven years. "The sooner we evaluate our friendships, the sooner we can say, 'Oh, this friendship is fun, we see we have a good time, and we see each other all the time, but it's not as meaningful as it could be because we're not really self-disclosing or sharing or confiding in each other.'" That then gives you a chance to ask: Do you want to increase the vulnerability or are you fine with it staying where it is? Or, is the friendship not serving you anymore and is it time to let it go?

It sounds harsh, but this ends up being better in the long run. "As we age, we also develop a better sense of our needs and values and the kinds of people we want to surround ourselves with," Kirmayer says. "This often allows us to have fewer, better relationships—the kind of friendships that are formed from a genuine connection, based on mutual understand, and withstand the ups and downs of adulthood." She adds that our needs change "depending on our life stage or experience." Evaluating and re-evaluating your friendships also allows you to "take stock of the types of friends or support you may be missing."

I've also been thinking about friendship a lot after reading Elena Ferrante's book (now also an HBO series) My Brilliant Friend. The book is the first in a series of Neapolitan novels that follow the friendship of Lenu and Lila in Naples, Italy. Their friendship is complicated and often rivalrous. The book, which was translated from Italian to English, became a cult favorite in part because Ferrante doesn't tiptoe around the hard bits of friendship. The dynamic between the two girls is given depth and intensity and attention in the same way romantic relationships often are. Which is appropriate, given that friendships and partnerships are similar in a lot of ways.

"We're having to practice the same three actions—positivity, consistency, and vulnerability—in all of our relationships, whether they are romantic or platonic," Nelson explains. Obviously, the actions manifest differently in a friendship than a partnership, but both need to be cared for and nurtured. They have ups and downs and they come with expectations. Like a romantic relationship, the goal isn't to find the perfect friend but to develop a healthy friendship. As Nelson says: "It's on us to create the consistency, we can always add positivity and think of how to have more fun together and how to express our gratitude more and how to bring more latches to the friendship."

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Which one, though?

Kim Kardashian is suing fast fashion retailer Missguided, claiming that the brand uses her image to spark interest in and sell its clothing. This lawsuit comes a few days after a theory, that she may be selling her own vintage clothing designs to fast fashion brands so that they can rip them off, made its rounds on the internet.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kardashian's attorney Michael Kump writes that "Missguided systematically uses the names and images of Kardashian and other celebrities to advertise and spark interest in its website and clothing." Other celebrities that the brand has tagged on its Instagram include Cardi B and Dua Lipa, along with the other members of the Kardashian-Jenner family.

Kump uses the example of the Yeezy dress that Kim posted to Instagram, which was ripped off by the brand within a couple of hours. "Recently, for example, after Kardashian posted a photo on Instagram of a dress that was made for her... Missguided quickly responded with its own Instagram post... boasting that it would be ripping off the design within 'a few days,'" Kump continues. "Missguided purposefully inserted Kardashian's Instagram username (@KimKardashian) into its post to capitalize on her celebrity status and social media following in promoting the sale of its upcoming product."

Kump also draws attention to the fact that the brand uses Kardashian's name so much that it may lead others to believe that she works with the brand, which, he wants to make clear, she does not: "Missguided's U.S. website has included entire pages that are devoted solely to the sale of clothing inspired by Kardashian, and on which Kardashian's name and likeness are prominently used without her permission to promote the products."

Some are noting that it's suspicious that Kardashian is not suing Fashion Nova, as well, since the brand most recently ripped off a vintage Mugler gown that Kardashian wore. Though it may be harder for Kardashian to make any claims since timestamps have revealed that the dress was made before Kardashian premiered the dress.



Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

He previously claimed to be a victim of a hate crime

According to reports, actor Jussie Smollett has been arrested by the Chicago Police Department. As CNN outlines, he's facing a felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report. If found guilty, he could face up to three years in prison.

The Empire star previously claimed that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime on January 29. He alleged that two masked men attacked him, tied a noose around his neck, poured bleach on him, and yelled, "This is MAGA country!" Brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo were eventually arrested and brought in for questioning, during which news broke that one appeared on Empire and the other worked as Smollett's personal trainer. Now, according to both men and reports, it's being said that Smollett paid them to "orchestrate" the attack.

Smollett's attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, have issued a statement regarding their client's defense. "Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked," they told Deadline. "Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."

If this is all true, this unfortunate turn of events should in no way take away from the fact that there is an abundant number of racially and sexually motivated attacks happening all of the time. They also still remain vastly underreported, so it's essential to listen to alleged victims, always.