I’ve been watching a lot of Rizzoli & Isles this week and observing the friendship between Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles. Not only do they have a professional and mutual respectful friendship, but they are a reminder that friendship is an agreement and it’s important to keep up your end of the bargain.
A few months ago I wrote about making friends as an adult, and while I’m still working on making my brunch squad, the friendships I make and already have are being evaluated to see how the agreement of friendship is going.
While every friendship agreement is different – we can’t all have a Rizzoli & Isles friendship – there are 10 basic commandments of adult friendship that are important to keep a healthy, balanced, worthwhile relationship with the Jane to your Maura.
The 10 Commandments
for healthy adult friendships
1. It’s okay to categorize friends
The thing about adult friendship is that not every friend has to satisfy every need. This isn’t primary school and your friends can have different needs. There’s brunch friends, whine about coworkers friends, concert friends, watch bad TV friends, ugly cry friends, etc. These categories help from expecting too much of friends, and makes it easy when you aren’t sure who to invite to your dinner party next month.
2. If it’s not working, don’t force it
Sometimes friendships just don’t click. Don’t force it. Just like there’s more fish in the sea, there’s plenty of more starfish too. If you can’t figure out who’s worth it or not, check out this article that distinguishes the difference.
3. It’s okay to prioritize yourself
Your own health and happiness needs to come first. So even if a friend really needs you, it is perfectly okay to take a step back and focus on yourself. Of course, you can’t use this excuse every time, but sometimes you need to so you can be there for them in the future.
4. Be clear how committed you are, and stick with it
Either you can commit all of your time to a friend, or your can’t. No inbetween. Know which one you can be and stick with that. If you say you’re going to be there for someone, but you consistently aren’t, you’re being a bad friend. There’s nothing wrong with saying you can’t be there for someone, so be honest with that friend.
5. Always have friends that make you laugh
Adult life is difficult and upsetting and stressful. Find friends that make you forget all of that. Without the friends who help you relax and enjoy life, you’re going to be too stressed out to enjoy anything, let alone other friendships.
6. Never be someone you’re not
I’m not a night person. I’ve known this since I was a small child. And so when friends want to go out late at night, I’m honest. There’s nothing wrong with saying I will be cranky and exhausted by midnight. But not saying anything at all and being that way at midnight, that’s definitely not the friend anyone wants around.
7. Always give 24 hour notice
We all have things come up last minute, but consistently canceling plans day of, no one likes that. If you’re feeling anxious about spending time with that person, or you think you’ll not be up for it, or whatever, just send a quick text saying you can’t 24 hours before. Likely your friend will understand, and won’t be upset when they’re sitting at the restaurant by themselves.
8. Don’t ever make a friend feel bad
Being upset with a friend isn’t a foreign concept, and it happens. Relationships with people wouldn’t be relationships without a little fighting. But in the midst of fighting, never try to make that person feel bad. It’s okay to say why you’re upset with them and why their actions weren’t good, but to make someone purposefully feel awful about themselves, you should feel awful about yourself.
9. Do not give some friends “specialty” treatment
We’ve all had that one friend who is trying to impress new friends, and ends up treating the old friends worse because of it. I like to call that maneuver the “How to Effectively Lose Old Friends”. It’s okay to want to impress new friends and let them know you’re invested in that friendship, but unless you want to cut ties, treat everyone equally.
10. Follow through with your promises
Just so everyone in the back can hear: FOLLOW THROUGH WITH PROMISES! I will – as will many others – lose respect for friends that don’t follow through. We all make mistakes, but leave me hanging more than once and I’ll start reevaluating. No one wants to feel that their friend isn’t someone they can trust, and the guilt of letting someone down is awful. Either don’t make promises, or make sure you follow through.
Thank you for reading! What are your rules for adult friendships? Let me know in the comments!
Stay classy, Internet,