When moving off to college, my biggest worry was making friends since I had the same friend group all throughout high school. I had to start from scratch and relearn how to make friends since I was all on my own. But a challenge I did not anticipate was how my friendships back at home + with my other friends would change because of college.
Whether you’ve moved off to college with your best friend or all your friends went separate ways, your friendships will look different because of college. That could be in a lot of ways or maybe not many, but you will have to work through it if you want to keep those friendships.
So I’ve put together this post on important things I’ve learned about friendship + how college has changed my relationships, but also strengthened them. I hope you can incorporate these things into your friendships! But if you’re having friendship challenges because of college, just know that you are not alone + that it’s something everyone has to work through.
-learn to redefine friendship
How you think of friendship may have to change. You may have to be okay with seeing each other less or texting less or them seeing other friends + having other close friends… but that doesn’t mean you aren’t friends– it may look different in this season of life.
Don’t set the same expectations you had on your prior friendship to where you are now. Your friendship may look different now because of the distance or different schedules. I went from seeing my friends everyday at high school to only seeing them a couple times during the school year + I had to learn to adjust to that. Just because we didn’t talk all the time did not mean our friendship was in danger (I have to remind myself that ALL the time). So to start, you may have reconsider what friendship means in this season of life + have lowered expectations. It may mean seeing them less, texting them less + allowing them to have other friends, but that doesn’t have to take away from your friendship… it may just look different now– which is hard if you’ve known them most of your life, but it’s all a part of growing up.
-give them room to grow but also be there when needed
This is a hard balance + I definitely was not a pro at it, but you have to give your friends the time + space to grow. You don’t have to check up on them all the time. You don’t have to know every single little detail of their life. You don’t have to keep track of who they are hanging out with. Allow your friend(s) to grow up, be independent + learn on their own.
On the flip side though, if they are really struggling with college or are having trouble finding friends or are going through a hard life circumstance, you could still be there for them. Sometimes a talk with a close friend might just make their day + give them the courage they need for that moment. You kinda have to feel it out: if they are texting you constantly + asking you to call them, then they may be lonely + you should chat with them. But if they don’t seem super talkative + are busy, then they may be doing fine. Allow them to have some space, but also be there if they may need you. It’s a balance that takes time learning, but it’s necessary.
-be intentional + reach out
With the time you do have + maybe when you are home, try to make the most it + be intentional about seeing them. If you truly care about them, it may take some effort, but try to reach out + make plans. Pursue them even when they don’t. Reach out even if they don’t. Try to take initiative in the relationship. Even if it’s a simple ‘how are you doing?’ text or a random call or a ‘this made me think of you’ message. If they come to mind or if you aren’t busy, try to reach out.
-don’t make them the one to always reach out
On the other hand, don’t wait for them to make a move or reach out. While relationships shouldn’t be one-sided, it doesn’t hurt to take initiative, especially if you care about them. They may be in a completely different position, be too busy or not even recognize it. You have to get over waiting on people to include you + instead, be the one to take action.
-it may look different for each friendship
This is kinda the tricky part, but changes in each relationship may look different + have different issues. Depending on people’s personalities, how close you are + how long you’ve known each other can factor into how hard it is to leave each other + how often you need to talk. Some people still feel close even when they don’t text for a month or two, others feel completely separated after a week. Some are fine with barely hearing what people have been up to, while some check in often.
From personal experience, I usually text my friends every week or so to see what’s new + how they’re doing. But some of my friends don’t even text each other for a month or two + I end up being the one to share with them how the other person is doing. However, some of the people I’m less close to, I only text when I’m home.
You really have to feel it out + know what’s best for the other person. You also have to recognize how you’re wired + what your needs are. For me, I’ve learned that it’s okay to not text people every single week, although there are a few I do because they may need me. But every relationship is different so I may need to reach out in different ways depending on the person.
-make the most of the time you do have together
Whether you only get together once over the summer or if you are able to plan some things, you have to make the most of the opportunities you do have. You can’t compare it to other friends you know or base your relationship on how often you see each other. Be present with the time you do have with them + enjoy it.
Hopefully things still feel the same. I know when I get back together with my friends, it feels like nothing has changed + it’s just like the old days. For some of my friends I was able to hang out a lot more with them than others + I just had to be okay with that. You have to take the opportunities you get, even if it’s not equal between friends.
-actually do what you say
This one may not make too much sense, but hang in there with me. You know how you might call each other + at the end say ‘oh, we should talk more often’. Or if you are together + you say ‘we should make a bucket list + do a bunch of fun things’. Or she may suggest ‘you should come visit me’. My tip is to push for those things + actually do them.
Like I previously said, it may take being intentional. It may require you taking action. But it is so worth it. Turn your dreams + desires into actual realities. It doesn’t have to be just a nice thing you say. You can make it happen!
-have grace + be willing to apologize
With all of this comes lots of learning. It’s important to have grace for one another. Be okay with rescheduling calls. Be okay with not getting together every break. Allow time to respond to texts. Allow them to have fun without you. Have grace for them + be understanding. But also take responsibility for your part.
You may have to admit that you were busy + forgot about them. Or that you feel you just aren’t as close anymore. Or take responsibility for not being there for them. Hopefully you can learn from it + be a better friend + that your relationship will grow stronger, but there may be times when your relationship is struggling + it’s important to work through that.
Letting Go Of Friends
The transition between high school to college allows room to choose which friends you hold on to + which friends you let go of, especially from your high school. You may have to cut off ties if you feel people are bringing you down or if it is one-sided.
In the end, you don’t need to stay in touch with ALL your high school friends unless you are actually close + you care about them. You may have talked with these people every day. You may have considered them a close acquaintance. But if you didn’t hang out with them outside of school or if you don’t constantly text, then you may consider letting them go. This doesn’t have to be a dramatic thing. They don’t even really have to know. Falling out can happen gradually + it is completely okay. Some friends are just there for a season, while others may be beside you your whole life.
This is such a tricky thing. Relationships can be so complicated + challenging. And I would say there is no perfect formula or way of doing it. But it is a natural thing that happens + that it is okay.
After putting this together, I realized that these tips could even apply to relationships in general… between parents, siblings, grandparents, etc when you are in college– not just friends– so hopefully you can take away some of these tips whether you’re in college or not.
I really enjoyed writing this post + being able to share with you what I have learned about friendships. Hopefully at least one of these tips can help you out + give you a better understanding about relationships.
I’m sure there is still a lot more for me to learn, but I’m glad to have reflected on what has happened in my life so that it can help all of you.
Let me know if you would like more posts on friendship or if you have any questions relating to this topic… or any questions at all. I am super passionate about this topic 🙂 and you may see more posts relating to this in the future (hint hint).
Anyways, I’m so proud of you for getting to this point! Thanks for the support!