Back in university, I remember my roommate and her boyfriend got into an argument about friendship. She told him that she considered quite a few people her "best friends," and his argument was that you can only have one best friend - that's what makes that person the best. As I listened to each person list out the reasons about why they were right, I wondered how many others were firm believers in one philosophy or the other. Is it possible to have more than one best friend? Or even more than one friend group?
These days, I embrace the idea of having multi-faceted friend groups. I do have an inner core group of friends who I feel totally comfortable around, expose my heart without fear of judgement, and revel in our soul connection. I also have friends who I know will always be up for an adventure. I have friends who prefer to have coffee dates. I have friends where we encourage each other in our personal development journeys. With how fluid our lives are these days, especially once you are out of school, you need different types of people in your life to fill up your cup. If I didn't allow my circle to expand, I would have zero friends here in Calgary.
But let's face it - expanding your circle of friends is hard work. There will always be people who say they want more friends, but they never meet you in the middle to create that friendship. Or, even worse, they approach you under the guise of friendship, and it turns out they had ulterior motives the entire time (usually after the third coffee date, the conversation goes something like this - let me share with you about this business opportunity...). I think those moments have been the most hurtful for me because my love language is quality time, and when I give someone my time, it means that I am willing and excited to invest in that person. When it becomes clear that friendship was never on the table, it feels like the ultimate betrayal. And if these false starts keep happening with new friendships, it can be really disappointing and leaves you wondering why you keep trying. Trust me, girl - I have been there more times than I care to admit!
How do you overcome this? How do you start to build these friend groups that your soul is craving? Well, here are a few tips that have helped me along the way:
1. Release expectations for an immediate friendship. This one can be very hard to do at first, especially when you're really vibing with your new potential BFF. But even if you meet, click right away, and share some laughs, it does not mean the other person is in the right state to receive you into their life. They might be guarded, they might not be there for the right reasons, or they might not be that into you. Whatever the reason is, try not to take it personally if it doesn't progress after the first or second meetup. Acknowledge that their role in your life was for a brief moment and release them in love. The right person is out there, and they can't wait to meet you and send you constant memes and GIFs.
2. It's okay to grieve the endings of friendships. When a friendship comes to an end, it can be hard to let them go, even when you know in your heart that it's the right thing. It can feel like you've been rejected, especially when you see them spending time with other people. I had to say goodbye to many friendships after I went through a breakup, and I ended up grieving the loss of those friendships more than the actual breakup. I lost someone who felt like a sister, but in the end, I knew that I could not continue a friendship with her if I truly wanted to break free from my ex. Grief is a natural process, and although it sucks, it's important to go through all five stages and work through those emotions. Once you have grieved, it is so much easier to move on and open up your heart to new potential friendships.
3. Fast and furious friendships don't always work out. Have you ever met someone and immediately, you think to yourself, "OMG - I just met my soul sister!" You find yourself texting each other all day, seeing each other multiple times a week, and everything is SO perfect. And then, as quickly as it came, the friendship fizzles out and you're left wondering what the heck just happened? In these cases, you can either blame yourself for becoming boring and ordinary (which I highly doubt), or you take it as an opportunity to learn. Why did it fizzle so fast? Was it because you actually had nothing in common? Does this person churn and burn friends all the time? Just because there was an initial spark does not mean the friendship will grow into a warm fire - sometimes, it stops at the spark and never catches fire (think of the fire challenge from Survivor).
Most of the time, the best friendships come from a slow burn, carefully peeling away the layers to get to that soul connection you are seeking. It requires patience and love, but if the other person is willing, then you have a much better chance at building something long-lasting and meaningful.