Adulting Series: Friendships - The Importance of Friends when We’re All Grown Up (Or Mostly Grown Up. Sometimes.)
By Amanda Turecek - December 27, 2021
Making friends as an adult is hard! Remember when we were kids and could walk up to that other kid in the awesome shoes and ask if we could play? One week later and our friendship was solidified. The connection seemed simple. Built on laughter, fruit snacks, and a shared love of riding bikes to the playground. I miss friendship being simple. I miss being able to ask “Can we be friends?” (Without seeming totally lonely and desperate)
It can be challenging to make friends
And as our lives get busy and complicated, clients will sometimes ask me “what’s the point?” It seems like an awful lot of intention to find friendships. And then once we find people we are often in a vulnerable space where we feel anxious, worried, and hurt. Sometimes we overthink what we said hours after a conversation with our new friends. And sometimes our new friends don’t feel the same, leaving us in a painful and sad place.
As a therapist, I sometimes find myself responding to this question. But rest assured, we therapists are right there with you. We experience these ups and downs of friendship too. We sometimes feel hopeful about new relationships that do not always end well. And we definitely experience anxiety about new interactions and dynamics. For myself and my clients however, my thoughts remain the same; Friendship is worth it.
Some therapy thoughts on the importance of friendships
Friends can offer so many benefits that come with connection. Lower stress levels and a sense of belonging can seriously impact our overall well-being. Loneliness can increase chances of several health factors including heart disease, anxiety, depression, and even earlier rates of death.
If decreasing anxiety and improving overall health aren’t enough, friends offer fun. There is empowerment in connecting with an individual outside of family that just gets you. A shared activity you both enjoy is a huge bonus.
Receiving validation from outside our family increases our confidence and supports us in feeling good. Have you ever told your partner they’re just telling you that that sweater looks amazing on you? Sometimes, they probably are. But friends can offer fresh perspective and honest advice. Good friends will tell you to change your sweater.
Friendships offer a sounding board with someone who will give feedback. Processing stress and overwhelm with friends can be a helpful part of decreasing stress levels. Talking out choices or worries can bring down anxiety and help things feel more manageable. Good friends might also point out things you didn’t realize, including positives and strengths.
Way, way back humans relied on friendships and connections for survival. Having others that you trusted meant you could share resources like food and water. Working together as a team meant more hands for housework, childcare, and even protection. While we may no longer be dependent on our friends to meet our physical needs, a helping hand can be appreciated. Help with childcare and a surprise meal after life throws you a curveball can be practically very helpful.
Friendships and relationships can make life better!
Connection can be hugely satisfying. The theme seems to be that a huge important part of relationship and friendship is reciprocation. Have you ever walked away from every interaction with a certain friend feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and maybe even angry or sad? I think most of us have been there. This seems to be when clients ask me “What’s the point?”
Sometimes we get stuck in patterns of giving. Some connections might never fill up our own cup. Part of adulting might be to continually assess these relationships. We might get really intentional about which relationships serve us and which drain us. We sometimes might need to draw hard boundaries. Continuing to work towards friendships that take turns in supporting each other can be worth the energy, time, and intention. Collaboration, team work, support, feedback, and sharing sadness AND joy….are all amazing benefits of the best friendships.
I would love to hear your thoughts!
Interested in learning more about RAFT or working with our team?
The mission of RAFT is to support people in living intentional lives through accessible and authentic behavioral health services. We offer mental health counseling appointments at our Parker, CO office for children 6+, teens, and adults. Video sessions offer a convenient alternative for clients 11+ throughout Colorado! Some things we specialize in:
Anxiety Treatment - Our skilled therapists at RAFT will work with you to target anxiety and mange stress and life transitions. You can feel more grounded, connected, and purpose-driven.
Trauma Therapy - RAFT trauma therapists can help you process past events and situations that are keeping you stuck. You can reduce your reactivity and put your emotions back in your control.
Depression Therapy - The RAFT team has experience working with individuals with depression. Imagine reducing the overwhelm and numbness and feeling joy again.
We want to encourage you in taking the first steps toward bettering your mental health. Reach out today to get connected with our team! It’s not easy to find the right therapist or provider. You want a professional who will listen without judgement and help you through your struggles with compassion and understanding. We would be grateful and honored to partner with you in taking your next intentional steps. We would love to hear from you. Reach out today!