As a grown-ass woman, it’s important that you surround yourself with other grown-ass people, from grown-ass romantic partners to grown-ass best friends. What I’m saying is, once you’re a grown adult who isn’t ruled by insecurity and drama, it can be really hard to hang around people who are not also grown adults who aren’t ruled by insecurity and drama. The tricky thing is that not everyone grows up at the same rate (hell, not everyone grows up at all), so sometimes you can find yourself with friends who are still bogged down in high school-esque silliness when you’ve already done your very best to get away from all that.
Having mature, supportive best friends is a wonderful thing. (I say “best friends,” plural, because – as we all know from Mindy Lahiri – “A best friend isn’t a person, Danny. It’s a tier.”) With immature friends, you have a good time, sure, but you also spend way too much energy dealing with unnecessary angst. But with grown-ass best friends — whether you have one amazing best friend, or a whole kickass posse of BFFs — you know that you have someone on your side whom you can trust, who will support you no matter what stupid mistakes you make, and with whom you can talk about pretty much anything. Which is pretty much the best feeling ever.
Here’s how grown up friends are different from those still stuck in high school (mentally, if not physically):
1. You can trust them with anything
With grown-ass friends, trust is paramount. You know that you can tell them anything, and they won’t judge you or blab sensitive information to anyone else. You also know that they will come through for you when you need help, and they’ll follow through on their promises, from minor ones like “Yes, I will bring ice to your party” to major ones like “Yes, I will come with you to your grandma’s funeral.” Here’s a good question to ask yourself if you’re trying to decide if a friend is a grown up: Would you feel comfortable listing him or her as your “Emergency Contact”? If your answer is “no,” you should seriously consider why you feel that way.
2. You have real conversations
We’ve all had those friends who are strictly “party friends” – people with whom it’s fun to get a bit wild and sloppy, but who we rarely talk to on any other occasion. With a mature best friend, you have actual, meaningful conversations about both of your lives, your families, your feelings.
3. There’s no drama
Most of us love a little drama, but there’s a difference between gleefully watching the Real Housewives throw wine in each other’s faces and stirring up drama so that your own life mirrors an episode of Big Brother. When people love drama so much that they’re happy to make it in their own lives, their drama tends to bleed out onto everyone close to them, including you. A grown-ass woman knows to give up the drama, and grown-ass best friends know that drama has no place in a real friendship. If your friend has a problem with you, he or she will let you know directly.
4. They give good advice
As a fully-fledged, mature adult, your best friend has had a lot of interesting life experience, and the wisdom that goes along with it. You know that when he or she gives advice, it’s coming from a place of thoughtfulness and experience, and you know you can trust it.
5. They’re low on gossip
Look, I get it: Gossip can be really, really fun, and gossipy people can be a blast to hang out with – as long as they’re not gossiping about you. And there’s the rub. Having a friend who’s into gossip can be great in the short term, but in the long term, you’ll be asking yourself, “If s/he is so free with sharing other people’s stories and secrets, how can I trust him or her with my problems?” A mature friend knows how to set boundaries and keep her mouth shut. You know that you can tell her something sensitive about yourself, and that it’ll stay with her alone.
6. There’s no jealousy
In high school, there can be a lot of drama and jealousy when one friend gets jealous of another friend. But when you grow up, you and your friends are mature enough to realize that being friends with one person doesn’t somehow lessen your ability to be friends with someone else. There’s plenty of love to go around, and you all know it.
7. They don’t call “dibs” on potential romantic partners
Things can get really complicated when it comes to friendship and dating. People often talk about the “girl code” or “bro code,” which usually dictate things like “Thou shalt not date your friend’s ex” and “Thou shalt not hit on the person your friend has been secretly in love with for her whole life.” I’m not going to lay down any rules here because every friendship is different and every person has a right to say what is and is not OK with them. But I would argue that friends don’t have the right to call “dibs” on every man or woman they find attractive. A mature friend knows that if he or she wants to date someone, he or she has to actually go for it, not simply ban everyone else from doing so. (Also, calling "dibs" on a human being, as if he or she were the front seat of a car, is fundamentally ridiculous.)
8. They are your biggest supporters
All of the previously mentioned attributes of grown-ass friends add up to one thing: An amazing, strong support system. Without the distractions of drama, gossip, and general immaturity, you and your best friends have each other’s backs, no matter what. They’re mature enough to recognize you for who you really are – flaws and all – and they love you all the same.
Images: Jessica Blankenship; Giphy (4)