Love and Relationships

How to navigate friendships in your 20s, according to our readers

Issa Canlas
How to navigate friendships in your 20s, according to our readers
Friendships are crucial relationships we need to navigate during our formative years. But how?

Your 20s can be unpredictable. This is the age when you usually get your first real taste of freedom and adulthood. However, discovering new things for yourself can also mean getting a little lost in the puzzle of making and maintaining relationships, including friendships.

Some get out of the places that bind them to their friends, such as school and work. Some even move away from home to pursue other goals in life. There are gains and losses in that process, and this experience can be exhausting in this time of self-discovery.

There is no handbook or guide to handling this pressure. So we asked our readers on social media: what advice on friendships do you wish you’d gotten in your 20s?

Choose quality over quantity

The most repeated sentiment on friendships in your 20s: quality over quantity. It is all about choosing good ones over choosing many.

In fact, just one friend will do, according to Facebook user Arjay Conde. 

Your 20s is not a popularity contest. As shared by our readers, the important thing is that they are tried and true: people who will stay with you in the hard times. This trust will be the saving grace of any difficulty — not just in your 20s, but also beyond. 

Be cautious of negativity

Sometimes, friendships can cause negativity in our lives. They can be a source of emotional conflict and manipulation. When friends can’t work on differences, disappointment and rejection may be felt.

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As you grow older, you likely have less time to deal with that kind of negativity. Our readers advise being wary of those who may be in the “friendship” for motives beyond genuine connection. 

Still, you are bound to encounter people who are a source of distress to your own well-being. When talking it out does not work out in the end, it may be best to distance yourself from them. “Cut out toxicity,” Instagram user @imnotxave said. 

Remember that existing friendships may change

People will grow; relationships do evolve. Your childhood friendships may have different dynamics now as you enter adulthood. 

Some friendships are only formed out of convenience…. It can be exhausting sometimes, but that’s okay. That’s life,said Instagram user @carina.mrnt.

Letting go of old expectations will help you navigate your connections with friends.

Sometimes, that means setting boundaries in your life now that you have more responsibilities to take on. Things we used to say “yes” to without hesitation may be difficult to do in our 20s. It is okay to say “no” to these things if you feel you need to.

It can also mean settling for a low-maintenance kind of friendship, in which one learns not to depend too much on frequent meet-ups and chats. Give yourself the space to breathe. 

Still, maintaining friendships in your 20s will also take maturity and compassion. Recognizing that friendships are connections that need nurturing, it takes a certain amount of commitment to remember what is required to keep them. (READ: Lost touch with friends? Here’s how to reconnect (and let go of ‘toxic’ ones))

Find those who make you a better person

Friendship is not just about hanging out and talking often — it is also about learning from each other. Good friends strive to make each other better people, both in small ways and big. 

According to Onilbeth San Buenaventura on Facebook, it is important to surround yourself with people who inspire you to improve.

It is equally as important to find friends who will be honest with you, even when they offer hard truths to swallow. 

In those times you need a guide, they will be the one to steer you back on course.

Go with the flow

Overwhelmed with all this varying advice on friendship? Are you wishing for the old times, when having friends was just as simple as lending toys in the playground, or swapping secrets on the phone? 

Sometimes the advice you need is to enjoy your friendships with others. Go with the flow of things. Just like with everything else you face in your 20s, there is no pressure to figure it all out in an instant.

Be comforted knowing that the right people will come along eventually.

Know that the friend-making stage of our lives can happen anywhere, not just in school playgrounds or classrooms. Find people you like and let connections form as they do. 

Instagram user @racheldotph shares that obstacles such as the idea of “FC” (feeling close) should not stop us from making new friends. 

Just gently meet and talk to people; connections naturally form if it’s mutual,the Instagram user shared.

Friendships are just as important as any other kind of relationship in life. Don’t let the anxiety of your 20s take away from the experience of having them. 

What other advice do you have about friendships in your 20s? —

Issa Canlas is a Digital Communications intern at Rappler and a student at the College of Mass Communication at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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