By Breana Orland
Good friends aren’t hard to come by when you’re starting college. Between classes, mixers, and weekends of partying, you are bound to meet people that you just click with, that are easy to be around, or that share your quirky sense of humor. But best friends are few and far between.
They are the people who will come to your dorm in the middle of the night and listen while you cry about a breakup. They’ll even bring tissues and whatever chocolate calorie-fest they can scrounge from the vending machine. Best friends share private jokes, argue (respectfully) about religion and politics, and buy the same shoes because, well, they look great on both of you (and you can’t deny your best friend a great pair of heels!). They know you well enough to leave you alone when you’re angry or make that face that gets you laughing even when you’re in the foulest of funks.
A good friend will compliment your life but a best friend will enhance it immeasurably. Unfortunately, it’s not all cake and ice cream. Like most relationships, friendships can be difficult to maintain, especially when you have a lot invested in them emotionally (and you’re dealing with all the drama on campus). If you want your friendship to last a lifetime, it’s going to take ongoing maintenance, so here are a few tips on how to keep the spark in your friendship (even when you want to rip your BFF’s hair out).
This is first on the list because it’s the most important. If you can’t talk it out, how did you get to be friends in the first place? You’ll find that you can work out misunderstandings, perceived wrongs, and hurt feelings by expressing your concerns, listening in turn, and keeping an open mind. And you’ll probably come out closer in the end.
Tell the truth (with tact)
What do you say when she asks if her favorite pair of True Religion jeans make her butt look fat? Well, first of all, if she wanted a flattering lie, she’d ask her boyfriend. On the other hand, you don’t have to candidly admit that she looks like a sausage about to bust at the seams. If you don’t want to hurt her feelings, suggest a shopping spree, then come back to the dorm, repurpose her old jeans as wall art (draw all over them!), and laugh about the freshman fifteen. And if she asks you something serious (like if her boyfriend hit on you when he was drunk at the luau), do not lie. You don’t have to volunteer that kind of hurtful information (it’s not really your place to interfere and she probably won’t appreciate it), but an honest question deserves an honest answer. Wouldn’t you expect the same from her?
Any good relationship requires a commitment, and while your best friend will cut you more slack than most, if you don’t make an effort to bond, your friendship will almost certainly fade. It’s easy to get caught up the chaos of going to class and cramming for finals, but school only lasts four years and your friend will last a lifetime, so don’t lose her because you were just too busy.
You are, after all, friends. So don’t treat her like the dog that ate your homework. In other words, be understanding, be forgiving, and realize that life happens and her inability to help you study for one math test does not make her a bad friend (considering how many times she was there when you needed her).
Nobody wants a ton of drama in their life (unless they happen to be on one of the many iterations of The Real World), so remember to keep it light. You don’t want your friend to start feeling like a crutch that you only call to lean on during a crisis. Being a friend means sharing your life, the good times and the bad. So make sure your time together includes enjoyable activities and plenty of fun and laughter. After all, these are the best years of your life and can be the beginning of long-lasting friendships!
Breana Orland is a writer who gives advice on the pursuit of higher education and career options for young adults for College Grants.