7 Major Ways Friendships Change After College


1. Living with friends is probably a bit different:

My college years were mostly spent sitting on an old, smelly couch watching Blade Runner and The Rock. Roommate bonds were always strengthened by these sorts of “straight out of New Girl” moments —  evenings consisted of watching movies on TBS, and discussing the pros and cons of olives as a pizza topping.    

Even if you live with a bunch of friends post-college, everyone in a given house will (likely) have splintered off to different end goals. Now that the “real world” stakes have been raised, perhaps one of you is spending his or her evenings toiling away at a demanding side-project. Maybe another doesn’t get home until 10. And maybe, just maybe, you’re the roommate whose always at their boyfriend’s.

*Note that this isn’t so much depressing as it is exciting. Ideally, everyone is pursuing the things they wouldn’t shut up about for the past 2 years.

2. Weekend visits are huge:

Judging from Facebook, I know I’m not the only one who’s had a great time (and/or has exaggerated having a great time) spending a weekend or two a year in a different city, visiting old college friends.

There’s a wondrous sort of thrill to these “visiting old roommate” trips — especially early on, when no one has completely transitioned to full-on career life, and the taste of college life is still lingering in everyone’s palette. Plus, spending  a frighteningly large chunk of your bank account on plane tickets to Chicago necessitates that you have no choice to have one of the best weekends you’ve had in years.

3.  Sangria-induced promises are tougher to keep:

A few years ago, I made a toast to a group of three close friends. We had all spent a semester abroad together, and quickly became a fearsome foursome.* We traveled together, almost missed a plane together, and did that thing where you recap what happened the previous night pretty much every single morning.

We all met for dinner about a year later, and I made a toast that indicated that while nothing was gonna beat our time in Copenhagen, I knew we found friends for life and that we were all gonna be invited to everyone’s weddings. It’s now a few years later, and that last part feels hilariously untrue — we’ve all drifted our separate ways, and I don’t think any of us realized what the cost per person can be at a matrimonial ceremony.

*We quickly became a fearsome foursome, according to us only. 

4. Quality Over Quantity:

I’ve noticed, particularly with friends that I don’t see regularly, that every time we interact we have a pretty great time. My theory here, is that once both parties accept that things are never going to be as they were sophomore year of college, there’s this immediate vibe of relief (both people no longer have to worry about how they’re constantly letting the other one down, so we’re able to focus our energies on actually have a good time).

Weddings and Bachelor/ette parties seem to very much capitalize on this energy — less frequent hangouts means the magnitude of the hangouts are heightened, which means that everyone doesn’t have time to worry about hang-ups and trivial gossip (theoretically).

5. Friend Pruning:

I, in addition to most people I know, am actively trying to get less friends. Not that I have a ton of friends, or am actively seeking to be a dick — it’s just the responsible thing to do. The rationale behind this is as follows:

-The older you get, the increase of adult responsibilities makes it more difficult it is to organize larger group events (Marc has to walk the dog, Steph is working, and Will needs to “check his calendar”).

-Because it’s more difficult to organize larger group events, there’s a good chance the entire gang won’t be able to come to happy hour.

-In fact, the only person who’s available for tonight’s happy hour is Steve.

-You’ve always enjoyed Steve, but he’s really more James’ friend than he is yours (James is the glue of the group.)

-Therefore, hanging out solo with Steve will probably be kinda weird. 

-Steve realizes this as well. (He responded right away, assuming there’d be other people who’d follow suit. Now he’s sort of panicked.)

-Now, you and Steve are stuck spending $20 apiece on a catch up session that doesn’t need to happen.

-Neither party is happy about this, and Steve’s gonna have to go another day without doing his laundry.

-Ideally, someone will have the guts to text the other that they “actually don’t feel that well.”

6. That “friend” who you were eventually planning on marrying might get snatched up:

I recently read this great book about a guy who was in love with the girl for years, started dating her, got dumped, and eventually married someone else. He was never entirely happy in the marriage, and the girl always secretly regretted dumping him.

The guy ended up getting divorced, and eventually the two got back together Because this was a work of fiction with arcs and intentional narratives, Ben and Lindsey were able to live out Ben’s (and eventually, Lindsey’s) pre-planned dream. But if this whole thing played out in the real world, that may not have been the case.

What I’m trying to say, is that by age 24 the friend/future spouse who you always assumed would be around forever might start to not be.

7. Friend-In-Laws (!)

A friend-in-law is the significant other of your significant other’s best friend.

In case that definition was as confusing to read as it was to type, I’m talking about Sean — that nice, but somewhat intense tax lawyer whose dating your girlfriend Sophie’s best friend Emily. If you end up getting serious with Sophie, you will inadvertently be also getting serious with Sean.

Meaning, even if you don’t like Sean and his loud chewing habits, you should very much try to. Because there’s a very good chance that he may, by virtue of marriage friendship laws, end up being the dude you watch Sunday football with for the next three decades.