The Trials and Tribulations of Adult Friendships: Secret Keeping, Respecting Boundaries, and Hidden Agendas

Adult friendships, and female friendships in particular, are like no other bond we know. Platonic relationships between women are very different from a lot of other types of personal connections we have in our lives. However, these bonds we have with each other as women are complicated. Very complicated. Whether we’re talking about our besties, our high school friends, our college crews, or the familiar circle of neighbourhood girls we grew up with, female friendships can be perplexing. Secret keeping, hidden agendas, and respecting boundaries are some of the many trials and tribulations our adult friendships offer us. But to what extent, and what cost?

The word friend means different things to different people. It can cover many different relationships; people you’ve known since you were a kid, people you met at school, people you talk to via the internet who you’ve never met in real life, and people you work with. At certain stages in life, especially when you’re young, female friendships mean everything. Whilst there’s no doubt that these friendships can be powerful and all-encompassing, there’s a ton of pressure involved, and our expectations can sometimes be a little unrealistic. Your girlfriends may get on your nerves, let you down, bore you, or do you wrong. As we age our female friendships aren’t immune to feelings of jealousy and spite, feelings we never would’ve typically associated with friendship. All of this can lead to anger and tears, and a whole lot of heartbreak. It’s a sad reality that over time, as our lives get more complex, so do the relationships we have with our friends. Who needs this sort of pressure in an adult friendship?

There are highs in female friendships, and there are lows. It’s a rollercoaster ride, one that never stops or slows. A lot of us as women can feel like we’re failing when we don’t have the picture-perfect friendships we see our favourite celebrities emulate, when we don’t have our idealised ‘girl squad.’ My social media feed is flooded with images of girl squads, and this isn’t something that’s a reality for me. When I was younger, I was determined to fit in and be accepted, all at the cost of my own happiness. The pressure and unrealistic expectations placed on female friendships isn’t something that eases as you get older, if anything it intensifies. More factors come into play, such as secret keeping, competitiveness, hidden agendas, and keeping and respecting boundaries. As an adult it makes me question myself; do I need to change myself in order to be liked? Shouldn’t I have left the nonsense of my school days behind? If you’re looking for helpful advice, someone to vent too, or someone to gossip with - reach out to your girlfriends. There’s nothing wrong with that. But never remain friends with someone or in a friendship group at the cost of your own happiness.

At the end of the day we’re all human beings. We make mistakes, we change, we grow, we evolve.  Fortunately as we get older, we learn what adult friendships are worthwhile and what to realistically expect from friendships. When you need to talk tough situations out, when you want to cry for no apparent reason, when you want to binge-watch a new TV series, or when you want to celebrate, call your girlfriends. Call all your friends if you need too. Our female friendships are important in grounding us, keeping us in check, and for living a well-balanced life. Good solid friendships require time, and they require give and take. Whatever your adult female friendships may look like, they matter. As do you.


Written by J'Nae Phillips

Follow J'Nae on Twitter & Instagram


1 comment

  • Roxanne

    I was a bit rude to my friend just before Christmas. She was really shocked. I later realised that I was rude and tried to apologise by calling her, She ignored my voicemail. I sent a text, she ignored my text. I sent a WhatsApp message, she ignored it. It said, Friend, (obvs not her real name}, I dont want to fall out with you over this, It was a misunderstanding and I was wrong. I would love to apologise" She ignored that message. I was hurt then I got angry. We have been friends for 3 years and prior to this, we had very good communicaiton (or so I thought] and we agreed that we are very different but would always try to hear each others side of any story. Not so much now, it seems. Two professional black women, unable to resolve a relatively minor issue. I think I am over it now.

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