Why Small Dose Friendships Can Be Healthy

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When it comes to "small dose" friendships, I think there's a lot of complexity to explore. On the surface level, it can be easy to dismiss a small dose friend as someone you simply need to remove from your life — and if that's the right decision for you, that's OK! But I think it's important to remember there are many instances where it's healthy to keep a small dose friendship alive. You don't have to spend all your time with someone in order for you both to get something valuable from the relationship — and that's where small dose friendships excel.

For the purpose of this discussion, I generally define a small dose friend as someone who is a BFF from a distance. You know, the people you grew up with but don't see anymore except for when she calls you in the middle of the night for love advice? Or the person you work with who is a blast to go out with on Saturday nights, but you quickly learned to tell you can't go out drinking on Tuesday because you have work in the morning? Those kinds of friends. They're people that you have limited exposure to, sometimes by choice.

Again: These descriptions might make some people's blood pressure shoot up, and that's OK! People are all different, so our expectations for friendships are all going to be different as well. If you feel like your friendship is toxic, it's valid to remove that person from your life. However, if you still value the friendship and want to keep the person in your life, but choose to do so in "small doses" only, there are ways such friendships can be beneficial. Let's take a look at a few of them.

1. They're There For You When It Matters

For some people, it's important to have friends they see on a regular basis — you know, the go-to people you call for brunch, buy concert tickets with, and organize potlucks for the holidays with. That sort of friendship is good and important. However, it's possible your small dose friend can fit one of these needs, or an entirely different need that your other friends can't or don't. Just because your relationship with your small dose friends aren't the same "type" of friend relationship you have with the rest of your friends doesn't mean they're bad or not worthwhile. When you're having a really hard day and need to call someone and vent, or if you're having a meltdown and need a place to crash for a night or two, if you find yourself reaching out to your "small doses" friend, it's probably a sign they've shown themself to be a caring, trustworthy person in your overall life, if not your everyday life — and you are for them, too.

2. Roots Matter, Sometimes

For a lot of us, childhood friendships come and go. If you end up moving to a new area or going to college far from your hometown, you might feel like you only keep in touch with your high school friends through Facebook likes and Instagram posts. And hey, that might be true! But if there's a certain friend from way back that you feel a special connection with but don't see often, there's still value in maintaining that relationship. Maybe she still offers you the best advice you've ever needed, even if her life choices aren't the ones you'd make for yourself. Maybe she's the first person you call when you come home to visit your family for the holidays, and you spend hours reminiscing on the good old days. Whatever it is, if your small dose friend warms your heart with nostalgia and reminds you of your roots, that's as good a reason as any to give them a special spot in your life.

3. When You're Together, It's A Blast

I think we all have a friend who approaches everything in life in a big way: Lots of partying, lots of concerts, etc. And if you're down for that lifestyle, that's awesome! But if you're not, or even if just not down for it all of the time, this person might be a good as a small dose friend. For example, if there's nothing you love more than going to the club with her on Friday night, go! But when she pressures you to go out again every night of the week and that's not your jam, it might be time to gently but firmly tell her you can't balance that with your job, but you're looking forward to seeing her on the weekend. You know, in small doses.

4. They Bring A Perspective To Your Life No One Else Does

I feel like it's possible small dose friends get a bad reputation: Even if your friend is a hot mess (an unapologetically so, because there's no need to apologize for being one), it doesn't mean they aren't loving, intelligent, or well-connected people. If your friend offers a diverse, intelligent perspective you aren't getting elsewhere in your life, that's definitely a reason to keep in mind before dropping them from your life. Whether it's because of their own background, or new experiences they've had, it can be helpful to step back and look at the people you're surrounding yourself with: If everybody has the same sort of existence with the same opinions and the same outlooks, you might benefit from keeping someone who has a fresh outlook in your circle.

5. They Make You Laugh

OK, I know this sounds simple, but hear me out. For most of us, life is really, really stressful and can feel overwhelming. Heck, life can throw some real issues our way and when depression or anxiety set in, it can be hard to smile, much less laugh. There are actually a ton of health benefits associated with laughter, with the main ones being that laughter can alleviate stress and anxiety. Sometimes a small dose friend is someone you don't see often, but you know when you give her a call is always there to help you crack up and give you some distraction and relief from the heavy stuff in life. While that's not necessarily something you'll invest time into every day, it's always good to continue fostering a relationship with someone who understands your sense of humor and enjoys supporting you through hard times (of course, make sure you do this in return, as well!).

Ultimately, your friendships are your decision, and if you don't want someone in your life, then you have every right to remove them from it. But if you're having second thoughts on cutting a small dose person from your life entirely, it's important to reflect back on what they do bring to your life and the bond you've shared over the years. If you think there's something worth saving, it's a good idea to consider ways you can make the friendship work for you before losing them entirely.

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