You can't expect people to always tell you why they need. But you can learn to get to know them on a deeper level, and give the love they have always given you.
For as long as I can remember, love has been something I relate to my closest friendships. To them, I share my purest and most loyal form of love, the kind that is genuinely unconditional. Intimate, but a hundred percent platonic. It's a kind of love that exists with us forever, even when friendships are no strangers to endings. But lately I've been reflecting on how the concept of love changes in your twenties, and also how friendships change too. In high school and college, friendships were at the top of my list. My life revolved around hanging out and spending time with my friends. I had a hunger for constantly meeting new people, and getting to know them so we could quickly become friends.
As you get older, friends represent something different. Our time and how much we can offer of it changes, so friendships have to be built on something stronger than just time spent together. Some friends will move to new cities, while others stay physically close but feel so far away because of relationships or jobs. It's unstoppable, and can make us feel lonely. People say your twenties can get lonely, and they're not lying. But I also see our twenties as a time to change your perspective on friendships, and start cultivating stronger, deeper bonds with people rather than accumulating mutuals on social media like if they were pokemons.
To cultivate a friendship, you need to give people what they need, not what you need. So after reflecting on how my own friendships have changed and grown, here are three kinds of live I think every friend needs, including you.
Love 1: Space
Space can be the most painful thing to give, because it's rare that two people want it at the same time. When someone asks us for "space," we get anxious. We assume it comes from a place of anger or that they simply don't want us in their life anymore. But space can be a gift for both the people who need it, and the one who doesn't want it. When you give your friends space, you're telling them you value what they need over what you want. It send a message that you care about their well-being more than you care about the present. When a friend is overwhelmed or going through changes, and they have stated they just need some time, giving them the space they need, although hard, is a powerful act of love.
Love 2: Encouragement Over Acceptance
Accepting people for who they are is beautiful, but encouraging them to be exactly that is powerful. As we grow older, our friendships become different. We're no longer seeking people who are the same as us, but life pulls us to all sorts of people. Not every friend is going to be on the same page with us about everything. And sometimes, who they are can be a foreign concept to us. But accepting them is the least we can do to show them we love them. Next time a friend opens up to you, encourage them about it. It can make a whole difference in how your friendship evolves.
Love 3: Honesty
I always joke with my friends that I'll always be on their side, no matter what. That has long been a sign of true friendship – your enemies are my enemies, sort of thing. But as we get older, life stops being so black and white. Things are always grey. Your friends are human beings, and they will make mistakes as they go. This doesn't mean you need to clash with them and make them feel bad, but if your friend asks for your opinion, you should be honest. This is important especially when they are about to make a mistake. In the moment, their emotions can get the best of them, and you might be inclined to say and do whatever will make them feel better. But true friendships are based on trust, and trust is formed when we know people have our back. Being honest with someone will be better in the long run, even if it drives a wedge in the moment.
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