It’s not as black and white as this, but it’s a way to simplify. We have casual friends and best friends. What’s the difference?
Casual friends we see once in a while for short periods of time, catch up, keep it light, update each other, maybe network a little, and celebrate each other’s successes. We could talk about deep, esoteric subjects and even share moments of deeply connected intimacy, but there’s a lack of something that keeps us from contacting the person on a more regular basis.
Best friends are people who share a deeply connected, intimate friendship all the time. They’re like family. They walk alongside you in life. They invest into you. They’re the people you call when something happens. Without making a list of expectations of these kinds of friends, we can agree that they make an effort on a regular basis to show you that they care about you and that you matter. They find out how you need to be loved- your love languages, and then do them because watching your happy reaction makes them happy.
There are several questions we can ask to investigate into why a casual friend isn’t become a best friend. They are:
Connection- Does someone have up walls that can’t be permeated?
Time- Is there time right now to invest into a close friendship?
Other priorities- Does someone already have strong relationships that takes up their time and energy?
Common interests- Do you want to do the same things together?
Common values- Do you want the same things from your life right now?
Common goals and vision for the future- Are you working towards the same things together?
Location- Do you live close enough to spend quality time together?
Spark- Is there a spark that keeps you wanting more of each other? Sometimes we just meet someone and think, “I like this one” and want to spend all of our time with them.
And maybe we’re in complete alignment, but still can’t further our bond. It comes down to vulnerability- being able to show that we love each other. Those that we’re closest to are the people we feel most loved by, the people that show us that they care, and the people we’re able to love in return. Best friends remind us that we’re loved on a regular basis, not just when it’s convenient for them. And this will look differently for everyone. The Five Love Languages is an excellent resource. It speaks to how people give and receive love.
Balance is important. How are we showing up in our relationships? Are we a giver, a taker or are we balanced? Giving includes things and ourselves- our time and energy. If we’re always taking, then the other person gets depleted and stops giving. It’s not always conscious, but they’ll start to feel unappreciated, taken for granted, drained and maybe even resentful. Are we always the one complaining and needing support, or do we reciprocate and show our appreciation for our friend?
Communication is also important. Ask your friends what they like and do this for them. Nothing extravagant- small gestures go a long way. If you’re the one feeling unloved, notice if you’re over giving and if so, hold back so your friend has the opportunity to give. Also notice how you give to yourself, show the world how you deserve to be treated. And finally, have that conversation. Try not to accuse them of anything or demand they give things to you, but tell your friend that the relationship feels unbalanced and ask them if they notice it. Maybe they’ve never learned the gift of giving. Write down a list of things that make you feel loved so if they ask you what you want you know how to respond. It helps if you look back at things people have done. Remind them that small gestures go a long way and that you care about them so much that you want more of them, not less.
We’re not trying to complete each other or get things that we can’t give to ourselves. And we’re not feeding our anxious attachments here or creating obligations for the other person to meet. We’re simply communicating our needs in relationships that help us to feel loved and fulfilled in this area of life. Expectations lead to disappointments and expectations are just unspoken needs. So let’s communicate our needs! When we’re two whole people coming together, we’re celebrating life by celebrating each other. We’re appreciating our friendships and doing things to see our pal’s reactions because it makes us feel happy and alive and we love experiencing life with them because we adore this beautiful human being! It’s about playing with life and it feels fun showing up in adorable ways for each other.
Can we have friends we don’t love and that don’t love us? No. Those are bullshit friends. They’ll waste your time and sap your energy. They’re most likely opportunists trying to get something from you. Sure, some people are on the path of learning about love, but there needs to be SOME kind of genuine caring feelings with the potential to grow into more. If they don’t care about you based on their actions, not just their words, swipe left.