I recently turned 28 years old, and so obviously I am feeling very old and ~wise~ and ready to give advice to every fresh-faced, care-free younger person I see. While I clearly still have a lot to learn about life and all of the responsibilities that go along with being an adult, I would say that I've learned a decent amount about love, life, and friendships — especially friendships in your 20s. One major thing I've learned is that so, so much changes by the time you hit your late 20s. It's not until you start rapidly approaching 30 that you realize that you are so different — and so are the people around you, meaning your friendships have changed as well.
In your early 20s, your friends become some of the most important people in your life — essentially, they are the family you got to choose. Maybe you had a close-knit group from high school. Maybe you had besties from work. Maybe you had sorority sisters and roomies from college. Or maybe you were like me, running around collecting best friends from every aspect of your life as if you were trying to win some sort of friendship competition. Regardless, you spend a lot of time with your friends in your early 20s doing things like partying, talking about literally everything, swapping weird hookup stories, and generally spending as much time together as possible.
But then something weird happens, and things start to slowly change. You guys all start getting full-time jobs or significant others, or maybe both. You discover that your original plan of meeting up for happy hour every day is actually exhausting and impossible. You're tired and busy all the time, and while your friends are still very important to you, they don't hold the same exact spot they once did.
At first, realizing this is kind of sad, because realizing that you've become the sort of boring adult you didn't want to be is a little depressing. The good news is that you get used to it, and you also learn how to balance your life so that you can still have fun with your friends. No clue what I'm talking about? Here are 16 things no one ever tells you about friendship in your late 20s:
1. You don't see each other as much
One of the biggest friendship changes is that you and your besties go from seeing each other several times a week to maybe, if you're in the same bridal party, a few times a month. It's not that you don't want to see each other — it's that you're all so busy that setting a date to hang out becomes close to impossible. You either can't pick a day that works for both (or all) of you, or a Friday night rolls around and you're so shot that you just want to stay home. The good news is that when you do see each other, it feels like no time has passed.
2. Your friends change, and so do you
Maybe "change" isn't exactly the right word here — maybe it's more like "you become more comfortable being yourself." By the time you hit your late 20s, you stop caring what others think, and you just embrace yourself. You're becoming more of who you really are, and less of someone who wants to please others. Your friends are doing the same thing, which is why they seem different. And sometimes after getting married or having kids, people really do genuinely change. It can feel like a weird adjustment.
3. You'll lose a lot of friends
During high school and college, you're surrounded by your peers all the time, which is why you probably have a lot of friends. But we've already established that you won't be with your friends as much as you used to be, so that means that you end up weeding out the friends who don't matter as much. You'll lose friends who you don't have anything against, you just don't have anything in common anymore. Sometimes you lose friends because you realize they never treated you right.
4. Sleepovers are no longer a thing
Remember when you were in high school, and you and your besties thought sleepovers were the best thing ever? Remember when your parents would restrict the amount of them you had, and you guys would talk about how when you were older, living on your own, you would have them all the time? And then in college you really did crash in each others' dorms all the time? Well, as you become real adults, sleepovers aren't as enticing. Sleeping in someone else's bed, or worse, on their couch, when you could be in your bed? No thanks. At this point in your life, you'd rather pay for the Uber to take you home than crash at your friend's home.
5. You're all more honest with each other
You're not afraid to call your friends out on their shit, and vice versa. Gone are the days where you would give your besties false hope about a guy who wasn't returning their phone calls. You no longer sit back and watch a friend get treated badly without at least trying to say something. And if they do something that makes you angry? You confront them instead of just talking about it behind their backs. It's kind of nice, actually.
6. Romantic relationships get in the way sometimes
As you get older and relationships start becoming more serious and possibly even lifelong, those romantic relationships take priority over your friendships. This doesn't mean your friends aren't important, it just means that you all have other people to look out for now as well.
7. Hanging out is more chill
Hanging out in your early 20s: Text each other plans late in the afternoon. Meet up to pre-game, and get ready together around 8. Go out to the bar or club around 10:30 or 11. Stay out all night long. Stumble into bed any time between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. Nurse hangovers while comparing stupid drunk moments. Repeat the next night.
Hanging out in your late 20s: Finally manage to make solid plans three weeks in advance after having to reschedule at least twice. Meet up for dinner, or head to someone's apartment for wine around 6 or 7. Eat, drink, and talk about everything for hours. Go your separate ways any time between 11 p.m. and midnight. Hug goodbye, and resolve to see each other soon instead of waiting an entire month because OMG how did you even go that long to begin with?! Repeat in another month.
8. You don't tell each other everything anymore
Throughout high school, college, and your early 20s, your close friends are probably the people you go to for everything, whether it's to talk about relationship problems, get advice, or just vent about annoying things at work. And while you still talk about TMI topics in your late 20s, you don't reveal quite as much. If you're in a serious relationship, you don't divulge as much info about fights or sex. You probably have work friends to complain to about work, so your other friends may not know the details there either.
9. You don't really feel the need to add new friends
Unless you've moved to a new place where you don't know anyone or you're feeling extra lonely, you usually don't spend your late 20s searching for new friends. It's not that you would turn down a new friend if the opportunity came up, but if you already have a close knit group, you're more likely to just stick with them at this point rather than actively search for new besties.
10. Fun events begin to seem like obligations
Your BFF's birthday in your early 20s: Weeks of planning go into the celebration. It's not a birthday night — it's a birthday weekend. You count down the days. You do a fancy dinner. You go out, you rage hard, you buy her all the shots. When it's over, you count down the days until the next friend's birthday celebration.
Your BFF's birthday in your late 20s: You almost dread the plans that are inevitably going to happen. You get the Facebook invite. You try to think of a way to get out of it. You realize you have to go out. You get brunch or dinner, you actually have fun, you miss your college days. Then you go back to dreading social interactions.
11. You realize who is really worth your time
We're more likely to put up with bad friends or frenemies throughout high school, college, and our early 20s, when we kind of enjoy the drama. But by the time we're in our late 20s, we're over it. We don't want or need toxic friends. We weed out the fake people, and we hold onto the people who are actually there for us. And it feels great.
12. Getting a group together is close to impossible
Getting together with one friend or two friends is hard enough as it is. Getting together with your entire squad? Yeah, it's damn near impossible. If it happens, it takes weeks to months of planning, and I guarantee one person cancels at the last minute.
13. You accept the bad
In your late 20s, you get to a point where you accept the fact that your friends each have their bad habits. You have a moment where you realize that you can either accept those bad qualities and deal with them, or you can just stop hanging out with this person. If the good wins over the bad, you usually just accept it because by now you know that no one is perfect.
14. Everyone's friendship is tested with weddings
As friends get married and bridal parties come about, things get... weird. Some people get strangely competitive. Others offer no help, and make everyone angry. Some friends don't get asked to be bridesmaids, and refuse to forgive the bride. Some friends disagree on all of the planning. Others refuse to put money in. Weddings are awesome, but bridal parties are scary — even with the people you know best.
15. Girls' weekends are more expensive
Now that you guys are out of college and, ideally, making more money, little trips are pricier — but they're also few and far between. Forget wild spring break trips, or spontaneous weekends going somewhere to party. A girls' trip is carefully planned, spent in a nice location, and while it probably involves drinking, it also involves a lot of relaxing.
16. You realize the friends you still have will be friends forever
While your friends may not be your first priority anymore, they are still very important. And even though you guys might fight or disagree sometimes and you might go months without hanging out, you still know that you've made it this far — and you'll probably be friends forever. And it's pretty great to know that they'll always have your back.
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