The way we view friendship, and the avenues through which we find new people to connect with all change as we grow older. But the need to meet and develop even casual relationships with like-minded people still prevails, especially with a global pandemic swooping in and completely reformatting our social spheres.

When we use the term adult friendship, we’re usually referring to the sort of friendship we’d be having with similar-minded peers from our mid-twenties and onward. Connections made through work, hobbies, and school feel rather different from those of our adolescence. And seemingly require both less fretting yet more time than the bonds we’ve had with others until this point. On average, most adults report having about 3 or four close friends, yet nearly half of those people still long for a deeper relationship with those said friends. But what does it mean to have solid adult friendships? And is it that important compared to our ever-long laundry list of responsibilities?

Friendship in adulthood is learning

Where friendship in childhood didn’t require much more than a few superficial similarities to establish a connection and was an avenue for simple fun and adventure, friendship in adulthood is more about self-disclosure. Through the bonds we make as adults, we learn more about ourselves and our boundaries. We learn what it means to be intimate and what values we hold as individuals. We also realize that friendships themselves can be lessons that further our growth and that not every friend we make can or should be a ‘BFF’.

Friendship in adulthood is change

As friendship is a largely voluntary endeavor, it is subject to life’s whims in a way that other more formal relationships such as family aren’t. That’s why, in adulthood, as people grow up and move on, friendships are the relationships most likely to suffer the consequences. Where it was easy to either call or stop by your friend’s house at a moment’s notice before, we now must consider their circumstance and act accordingly. As our priorities shift, the way we interact with friends change.

Friendship in adulthood is effort

As we grow up, we slowly but surely discover that our basic requirements for friendship have endured a major transformation. Sure, we still expect friendship to be about mutual respect, sincerity, and support, but more than ever, our friendship must withstand the test of time. The friendship between adults is more about effort than compatibility, though the latter still plays a huge part. To have solid adult friendships, we should make time to sustain them.

Friendship in adulthood is important

Despite the scientifically proven health benefits that long-lasting friendship contributes to our lives, friendship is still dead last in the hierarchy of relationships. We habitually prioritize romantic and familial ties over platonic ones. Even in situations where the former does not improve our lives in any way. But according to the experts, solid friendships inspire overall health and growth. The people around us influence our behaviors and can indeed push us in either direction in terms of positive or negative change.

Adulting is hard alone, but fun with friends

All in all, adult friendships are not only great lessons in intimacy and introspection. But can in fact be detrimental to our social well-being. Despite the inherent tension ingrained in the act of friendship, one that makes it easier for us to part with a longtime friend over a familial obligation, the friendships we make in adulthood do contribute greatly to our self-esteem and how we navigate the world overall. The heavy responsibilities, the added pressure, and the stress that comes with adulthood can become too much for some. And in such cases, having a stable and trustworthy support system is an absolute must.

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An avid reader and freelance writer with a passion for intercultural communication and cultural analysis. A twenty-something social media newbie exploring the good, the bad and the ugly of the many platforms that make up our current worldview.