Here’s the deal. We might not have as many friends as we thought.
In middle school and high school, I remember being friends (or friendly) with nearly everyone. High-fives in the hallways, throwing up the MySpace “like for like” comments and attending parties with what felt like hundreds of classmates seemed to be the norm. And as a naturally social person, college was much of the same.
Everyone does their own thing and socializes in different ways, but most of us can say we have a core group of BFFs, and then several other subsidiary friend groups like school friends, work friends, gym friends, party friends, friends of friends, family friends, etc.
And there’s usually very strict parameters around those secondary friendships. You’re buddy-buddy during the time you spend together, whether it’s bonding over office gossip or liking the same sports team as your boyfriend’s friends. Rarely, if ever, do you socialize outside of the set environment the friendship exists in.
And today, being “friends” with someone doesn’t even have to be a face-to-face interaction. We might consider someone we follow on Instagram or Snapchat to be a a real friend of ours in whatever capacity.
But regardless, you still perceive these types of people to be your friends, right? I do.
Until now, anyways.
The NYT recently dropped this shocker of a story earlier this week, “Do Your Friends Actually Like You?” To which my natural reaction was, “Do I really want to know the answer?”
But it’s true. Many of the friendships we perceive to be legitimate aren’t actually reciprocated on the other end, according to a recent Public Library of Science study.
So that work pal that you confide in and cover for when she doesn’t bring cash to the pizza place? Doesn’t like ya. Or the cool guy you sat next to in college accounting who tosses you the yearly, “happy birthday” on FB? Doesn’t like you, either. You might have mutual friends, but the friendship ain’t mutual.
The study does a way deeper dive to help understand how the different levels of friendships (or non-friendships) can affect social influence or persuasion within a group.
There’s a perception out there that today we don’t have “time” for friends, so we narrow down our pool to pick from. And those that we do choose to surround ourselves with are perhaps used for other motives like appearing to look cool, sociable, etc. on social media.
So even if that stings a bit, we all know what a true friendship is –and that’s one based on trust, caring, honesty and time. Time to get to know each other, time to be vulnerable in front of that person and time for them to stick around, find a solution and pick you up.
I remember growing up, my parents told me one pretty cool thing about friendship. The best friends you’ll ever have are the ones you can sit in silence with, even for hours at a time. You don’t always have to be talking or entertaining one another, but you can simply enjoy the silence and expect nothing else to fill the space. That’s the real deal friend.
At first I was bummed to find out lots of people don’t like me (it’s not just me by the way, they don’t like you either), but when I think about it –it’s nothing we didn’t already know. We know who are true day 1’s are and sometimes they’re all that matters, no social media image can change that.
And that’s mostly because these are usually the people who saw you with braces, wearing skirts over your jeans or who helped you after peeing in your sleeping bag at a 7th grade sleepover.
Now, I just hope my real friends really like me…