What Are "Small Dose Friends?" Here's Why Having BFFs From A Distance Can Be Good For You

When it comes to the platonic ideal of friendship, a lot of us probably imagine something out of Friends or How I Met Your Mother, where there's a group of super close people you do everything with through both good times and bad. On TV, the bond sticks seemingly forever. But while plenty of people do have lifelong, genuine friendships, how often does this really happen in real life? Is there a point in maintaining a "small dose" friendship or two? If you're like me, you're probably wondering: Exactly what is a small dose friend, anyway? Jenny Kutner over at Mic sums up a "small doses" friend as someone who "manages to be a constant in your life without being a regular presence," which, hey, sounds like most of my friends from childhood and high school. Kutner goes on to say, however, that "small doses" friends would also "probably ruin your life" if you spent more time with them — so the answer is, yes, there is a point to maintaining small dose friends.

But let's get back to a few more details about what a small dose friend really is. You might think of it as a friend who has been in your life for a substantial amount of time, but who sometimes displays toxic qualities. You know, those friends you grew up with and then all of a sudden they're sending you drunk texts at 3 a.m. from another state because they lost their keys and think you can somehow help them? Yeah. Those kinds of friends.

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Of course, it's a personal decision: Some people would determine these people to be toxic and cut them out of their lives entirely. And that choice is OK! But for other people, these lifelong friendships have serious value, even if they can be a little irritating. That girl sending you the drunk texts at 3 a.m.? Sure, it's initially easy to roll back over and go to sleep, annoyed with her immaturity, but it's also easy to remember all the milestones you two accomplished together as kids, all the growing and learning you did as middle school BFFs. You still enjoy hanging out together, but it's usually best in... well, small doses, rather than all the time. Hence the term "small dose friends."

Yeah, emotions and nostalgia are tough things to beat, even if someone is unreliable or immature. It's also important to remember that people are at all different stages of their lives in terms of emotional stability, employment, and responsibilities, so we'd all do well to avoid getting too judgey about the choices other people make. If it's really negatively impacting your life, that's the time to talk about them, or cut them out entirely.

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This is where the "small doses" part becomes integral. To maintain a healthy and balance relationship with your "small doses" friend, you basically need to have the self-control and awareness to limit your interactions with them to a level you are personally OK with. This is going to be different for everybody, of course: If you're someone who is prone to being a people pleaser, or easily slips into codependent relationships, maintaining a close relationship with an unstable person could be a recipe for disaster for you. But if you think you can set boundaries and stick to them, you should be OK with maintaining a small dose friendship, if you want to continue your bond with that person.

So, if you think your friend fits the bill and a "small dose" relationship would work best, what does that actually entail? It's ultimately up to you (and your friend) to decide what the friendship looks like. Maybe for you, "small doses" means chatting on the phone for a few hours at a time, but only once or twice a month. "Small doses" could also mean meeting up in person for lunch or shopping, but not partying, when your friend tends to get too crazy and turns you into a babysitter. Heck, "small doses" might mean you get together once or twice a year and catch up like there's been no time between you.

All friendships are diverse and versatile, and that's a good thing! The key with "small doses" friends, I think, is to make sure the friendship is working for you, not against you. Just like in a romantic relationship, you don't want to give your all into something which is ultimately hurting you or causing damage to your well-being.

Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy (2)