The 2021 Guide To Friendship 

What would we have done without friends this last year? Friends are like family but sometimes it’s better to let those go who have hurt you too much or make you sad more than they make you happy. I have come up with a range of scenarios where sometimes we need to re-evaluate our friendships and take a step back to see how to repair the damage, or whether it is best to let it go. 

Your friend has a new group of friends and you’re jealous 

This is a super common experience when friends go to different universities after school, and even after university when they find new jobs and friendships. Sometimes it might be worth asking why you don’t hang out as much or why you talk less on the phone. If you don’t want to confront it, that’s absolutely fine as well. When your friend wants familiarity they’ll come back because they know you and will miss spending time with you when they realise it’s been a few weeks since they last messaged you. If you’re feeling down about it, start filling your time when you’re not with them by doing something else, like joining a new society or finding a new hobby as a way of making new friends yourself. Just because they have a new group of friends doesn’t mean they don’t value your friendship anymore. 

You feel like the third wheel

I’ve been here, and it’s awful. It feels as though all they ever talk about is their SO and do you know what, I don’t actually care how x is because I came to see you, not to hear how his brothers, best friends, ex is now dating your old flat mate. These situations are really tricky because feeling like a third wheel is awful as you tend to feel under-appreciated and left out, but also your friend could be likely to defend their new and shiny relationship. It’s best to give it some time and hopefully that honeymoon phase will pass. If it doesn’t, then it might be time to say something about how you miss their friendship and hanging out together, just the two of you. 

Toxic friends

Don’t ghost them, that will only cause more problems further down the line. While it seems like the easy thing to do at the time it will almost certainly cause a worse argument down the line. Friendships change over time as we grow, and we may start to notice that these friends do or say things we no longer agree with and find hurtful. These are the friends we should cull. But be honest with them and yourself. Sometimes these sorts of friendships fizzle out naturally as you both start to make less effort, but if they don’t it’s a good idea to sit down together and be honest. Say what has upset you and if they are not willing to apologize then it may be time to part ways. Not all friendships work or last forever. 

The competitive course mate

We all have at least one of these in our lives. I’ve found the best way to cope with these sorts of friends is to hang out with them in different settings other than just uni. This way you get to know different sides of their personality. If you don’t want the competition, don’t rise to it. For example, if they say, ‘Have you done the reading yet? I finished it last night’, you could reply saying ‘aw that’s great, well done’ and then change the subject. Obviously don’t be patronizing but what they are probably really after is praise. Maybe once you stop rising to the competition, they will stop seeking it from you and you can simply enjoy their friendship and company instead of worrying about the next thing they are going to ask you about that essay! 

The ex / friend scenario 

This one is really tricky. Say your friend was dating someone for a while and you became really close with them too, but then they broke up and you still want to be friends with both of them. It’s hard because in a brake-up you feel like you have to take sides, but it’s not you who broke up with them. If the ex did something awful like cheating, then I would say it’s better to abandon ship, but if they broke up because ‘it just wasn’t working’ and nothing terrible happened between them you should talk to your friend. Explain that you don’t want anything romantic with said ex, but you really miss their friendship. If they are a decent friend they should understand that they were also your friend and be fine with it, but if they feel really awkward about it, and this friendship is important to you, it’s best to leave the ex and focus on your friendship.