Why Are So Many 20-Somethings Having Problems With Their Friends?


Your late twenties and early thirties can be a very bizarre time. While, hopefully, most of the drama of your teens and twenties is over, there seems to be a new set of issues you have to deal with.

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of blog posts and articles about this stage of life, and most of them seem directed at certain people going through certain things. All these articles, for some reason, have a common theme. That theme is “Your other friends just don’t understand.” I think that’s horse shit.

I’m talking specifically about articles like, “Twenty things your single friends are tired of hearing” or articles about how parenthood causes issues between you and your kid-free friends. I can’t quite understand why people are having these problems.

One of my best friends is married with two lovely children, my other dear friend is single and living a career driven life, and I myself am in a long term relationship (4 years), with no children and no desire to have them. We have not ran into any of these issues other people seem to be having. We manage just fine to include one another in every appropriate aspect of our lives, and to remain in touch regardless of how busy life gets. This is not to toot my own horn or let the world know my bff’s are the best, but hopefully to offer advice to other people who are having a hard time keeping friendships strong at this point in their lives.

Beginning with my married friend who has two young children. From the start of her pregnancy she kept us in the loop, and we wanted to be in the loop. She managed to toe a fine line the entire time she was pregnant, and to this day continues to do so now that her sons are growing up. Throughout her entire pregnancy she was the same woman we had known for years, albeit a little bigger around the middle and occasionally grouchy, and by grouchy I mean kind of a bitch.

Even though she couldn’t drink and party with us any more she still made efforts to see us and meet us on our turf, coming to birthday parties at bars even though she was as big as a house. She turned her baby shower into a poker party so her friends and her husband’s friends all had a good time. She would be our sober driver, when she felt up to it, and we appreciated that. She didn’t flood our lives with cutesy pregnancy updates like “Look you guys! My little bastard is the size of a grapefruit this week!” No, instead she stayed true to who we were before the baby was coming, she updated us on how sick of being pregnant she was and commiserated with us when my career driven friend stalled at work, or I was angry with my boyfriend. She never once acted like pregnancy and motherhood was something that was going to change her entire personality, and two babies later she’s still the same woman she used to be, just with two little boys in her arms and a husband floating around, pretending to hate all the estrogen we truck into his house whenever we come over.

My career driven friend, who’s life seems incredibly fun and filled to the brim with hilarity and adventure to me and my mom-friend, recently informed us she’s ready to start the next part of her life and meet someone (which proved to us at least that the stereotype is true, broads in long term relationships love it when other broads get in one because we got really fucking excited), even though she is well aware we have a tendency to boss her around about her love life because apparently we think we know what’s best when it comes to love. She’s never afraid to tell us to back off though, or to straight up stay the fuck out of her business. While she’s ready for this new chapter, we’re still excited about her life as it is now, we love listening to stories of her adventures, whether they be promotions at work, going on weekend trips with friends, or just stories from Saturday night at the bar. It’s like she keeps our lives exciting, since for the most part we’re settled in our ways and don’t do half of the fun shit she does.

For my part my days are pretty much the same. My boyfriend and I, being together so long, recently decided we wanted to spice things up, so we did what most couples who don’t want kids do – we got a puppy. Much to the excitement of both of my friends, my married friend laughing and telling me I now knew what it was like to have a two year old, and my career driven friend being stoked we picked the dog she liked, coming over and making it a point to hold him and play with him because as a rescue he has issues with people, he’s very shy. But the genuine excitement about me starting something new in my life from these two women means a lot to me. They have busy lives and still make it a point to ask about my boyfriend and the dog every time we talk, which is frequently.

When we are able to get together, the bills paid, the kids in bed (and we DO make it a point to go to my mom-friend’s house because it’s easier for her and there is no reason we can’t) and the men off doing whatever men do. We sit around a table, wine and beers in hand, and talk about old times, current times, and what we want for the future. When we sit with each other, just talking, it’s like the past ten years haven’t happened yet and we’re still those broads who somehow, call it by the Grace of God, the Universe, Serendipity, whatever, became friends at 20 years old and stuck by each other through everything, without judgment, without assumptions. We love each other because, not despite, we’re all at different points in our lives and each one of us offers something to each other. We don’t look at my mom-friend’s children as something that changed her, but as an extension of her and we love them for that. We don’t look at my career friend as lacking because she isn’t in a relationship, we love her because she isn’t and she makes us feel less like long term relationship Barbie’s and more like we have a more exciting life.

If you are having problems at this stage in your life, and you feel like your friends fit into this category or that category, just remember: friendship isn’t about stages of life. It’s about the whole thing. All friendship requires is honesty and understanding. If you can keep that going through every stage, I think, you’ll get to the end of life fulfilled and happy. Remember your friends always had something to offer, and if you think your friendships are strained now, look at yourself and ask “Am I being the friend I want them to be?” The only categories you need to worry about are “friends” and “not friends.”