From children’s movies centered on the princess marrying the prince, to adult social events that exclude folks who aren’t coupled, our society draws a stark distinction between romantic love and friendship. Typically, romantic love comes out on top.
Yet, according to Candrea Davies, “The conversation around healthy friendships to me is the conversation around healthy relationships.” Davies is a licensed clinical professional counselor at AnnodRight, a therapy group by and for black womxn. She says that healthy and loving friendships and romantic relationships largely require the same foundations: shared values, mutual support, and empathetic listening.
Because we’re taught to prioritize romantic relationships, it can feel much harder to make friends as adults. Forming adult friendships can also be more challenging because, according to research, we’re more self-conscious of the possibility of judgment or rejection.
Yet there’s another, potentially positive reason that forming close friendships feels more difficult now than it did in grade school: “Friendships change in adulthood because we begin to know ourselves more,” says Davies. In childhood, “We are trying to figure out who we are, and so we build friendships based off of some external things.”
Many of us have lost friendships over the course of the pandemic. We may have fallen out of touch due to isolation. Or we may have realized that our previous friends actually don’t share our values, or don’t wholly support our marginalized identities. This realization can be painful, but it can also be an opportunity to build relationships that more deeply support us. Here are some tips for nurturing good friendships.