Remember when you used to come home from school and call your best friend, even though you’d seen each other all day? How about those family holidays you were dragged on, kicking and screaming about not being able to see your buddies for a whole week?
Our first friendships are forays into lives other than our family members. This makes them a very, very big deal at the time – and for the rest of our lives.
The Old You Outshines the New You
Our oldest friends have seen us fall off the jungle gym into dog poo, struggle through the awkwardness of a first kiss, get grounded for wagging school, and fall in love with blue eye-shadow. This means, no matter what you look like, how you act, or what you do now, they already love you for exactly who you are.
While adult friendships are also wonderfully supportive and honest, nothing beats the feeling of complete acceptance. Acceptance of all the mistakes, the chaos, and the daggy moments of growing up together, means that the capable ‘adult’ you can breathe out and let the muffin-top hang out over your jeans.
The Boundaries Were Never Erected
Because adult friendships are formed when we’re more polished, more respectable, and ‘pre-conditioned’, they often come with society-induced boundaries. This means we’re not likely to ring them at 2 am… just because we can’t sleep and we want to have a random chat.
Boundaries are often necessary for healthy relationships. That said, there’s something beautifully raw and honest about not abiding by them, with our oldest friends. If you feel like sprouting word vomit, you can. If you did something ridiculous, they loved it. If you just need a hug, they’ll come from miles away to give it in the middle of the night.
The Explanations Are Not Necessary
If a new friend saw you bawling your eyes out and hugging your teddy, Mr. Fluffy, they might be shocked, concerned, and confused. Meanwhile, old friends will ring you and say, “I hope Mr. Fluffy is there with you?” All of our unique habits, personality traits, and ways of dealing with the world have grown and evolved with our oldest friends.
They know when we’re sad (even if we’re smiling), they know what makes us feel better, and they know what triggers us. We can start a conversation mid-sentence, without telling the back-story. If an ex shows up on social media, one glance is enough to relive an entire phase together.
The Bluntness Outweighs the Niceness
When we branch out into the adult world, we find that ‘all is not as it seems’. People are afraid to be confrontational, which often means we don’t receive honest opinions or constructive criticism. It’s either that, or we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, so we’ll refrain from telling someone the blunt truth.
Not so, with friends we made when we were young. We’ve already compared school grades, boob sizes, and we weren’t scared to say, “Whoa, check out that zit on your nose!”
This carries over into adult life, where honest opinions can mean the difference between good and bad decisions. Old friends will tell you that your girlfriend treats you badly, and they’ll pick another pair of jeans for you, when they really do make your bum look fat.
Adult friendships speak to us of the way we’ve developed, and reflect the type of people we’ve become. They bring excitement, freshness, growth, and love; however, they haven’t been born from the messy, intense, reckless, and fragile children we were. This brings an irreplaceable intimacy. It’s why we always make lifelong friendships when we’re young.