Friends Shouldn't Support You at All Costs and Here's Why

College is a lot like middle school, round two – you’re in a new place trying to figure out where the heck you “fit in” (only this time there’s less braces and unironic Aeropostale t-shirts). Even though it may take some time and shifting around in different social circles, nothing beats that feeling of finding “your tribe.” Your people. The ones who are equally fun for a night out or a night on the couch with a bowl of popcorn between you. The ones struggling by your side in the library at 1 AM or trudging to hangover brunch with you on Sunday morning. The ones you see every day, and the ones you don’t see for months but feel like no time passed when you’re reunited.

It may have taken me until well into my sophomore year of college, but I did finally find those people for myself. Because of that experience, I think it’s pretty safe to say I have a good idea of what makes a true friend. Trust. Dependability. Mutual interests. A sense of caring. A lot of laughs.

But one thing a true friend shouldn’t do is have your back at all costs.

Don’t get me wrong – friends should support you. You need that stable base, someone to be there for you when the going gets tough (which is pretty often in college). But you also need honesty.

In my opinion, a true friend doesn’t sit back and nod “yes” to you at all times. They don’t encourage your every decision, no matter what. There is such a thing as too much support in a friendship. Friendships that promote an “I support you no matter what,” mentality also promote a “You can do no wrong, ever” mentality, which is just not realistic. We’re human beings. We have flaws. We make mistakes sometimes (or a lot of the time). And a friend should acknowledge that – but love you regardless.

For example, I once dated a guy for several years that my friends didn't care for. They made it very clear, although they did so respectfully, they never treated him badly to his face, but they weren't fake-nice, either. There was enough tension that hanging out with both he and my friends at the same time wasn't an option. It upset me that I had to separate the two like they were forcing me to lead a double life. I didn't understand why they couldn't just be happy for me. I was happy – wasn't that enough? Why did they have to cause me this stress?

In retrospect, I appreciate their honesty. When the relationship eventually fell apart and the rose-colored glasses came off, suddenly everything they'd said made sense. It wasn't a healthy relationship, and neither of us were treating the other the way we should've. As much as it sucked to hear it at the time, their concerns planted a seed of doubt in my oblivious mind. It brought me back to Earth and helped me see reality. They made their feelings clear but still continued to be there for me throughout the remainder of the relationship, helping me choose outfits for date nights or listening while I ranted after yet another fight. Honest and yet supportive – what a true friendship should be. 

Since then, I've made a point to do the same for all of my friends. I’m a big believer in tough love. A true friend tells you when they think you’re wrong. They tell you when you’re pursuing something that’s not in your best interest (a boy, for instance). They’re there to hand you a gentle reality check every now and then because they want the best for you. They see all your flaws and care about you anyway, and they’re willing to help pull you to your feet when you inevitably screw up.

And if you’ve already found that person, be sure to keep them around. I know I've found mine.❤️

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