Friendships that Last

When you head off to college, you get a fresh start. Whether you had a great experience in high school and made solid friendships, or you look at high school as the bane of your existence, college marks a new season of your life.

Friendships that last seem pretty rare these days, and the concept of a lifelong friend can be a foreign idea to some. With all of the different ways to connect with people online, it’s a wonder that making friends—and even more mind-boggling, keeping them!—is so challenging. So why is it so tough?

There’s speculation that while social media does a great job of connecting you to people from both your past and present, it doesn’t elicit true, meaningful friendships with depth because you’re not able to experience the mundane of day-to-day life together. Social media is a creation of your best self, but that’s not what makes real connections. We live in a day and age where everyone is more connected than ever before, yet lonelier than ever before too.

So what gives? How can you make friendships that last through college and beyond?

1. Are you befriending the right people?

If you’re making friends with people who just want to party or use you for your influence, money, or things, you need to make a quick exit. Many people get sucked into relationships with people who aren’t good for them because they’re lonely—and then, after a while, they realize that their even lonelier than before.

If you want friendships that last, you need to make sure you’re befriending people of good character who will actually care for you. When you consider someone as a potential friend, ask yourself: Are they willing to pursue spending time together, or am I the one doing all the asking and planning? Do they point me back to Jesus? Do they stand up for what’s right, even if it’s hard? Are they willing to talk about hard things and be honest, or is our conversation always shallow? It can feel like good friends are rare, but we promise, they’re out there if you’re looking for them!

2. Are you trying to be friends with everyone? 

If you naturally have a lot of connections, it can be easy to lean into that and float along the surface of your relationships. Practically speaking, it’s tough to cultivate deep friendships if you’re getting coffee with someone new every single day. Deep friendships take a lot of time and investment, so while it may feel like more work, the effort pays off.

There’s nothing wrong with having a wide network of friends, but it becomes a problem when you never pursue one or two of those individuals further, or you use your network as a crutch to avoid conversations of depth. If you only ever connect with acquaintances every once and a while, you’ll never have the opportunity to experience the profundity of a friend who’s able to lovingly confront you about something harmful he or she sees in your life—or on the flip side, you may not experience the type of encouragement that comes from a friend who truly knows you and the challenges you’ve faced. The deeper you go with someone relationally, the more joy and contentment will be bred from that friendship—and the longer it will last.

3. Is technology your crutch? 

There’s something a little weird about only ever talking on Facebook messenger or Snapchat. Unless you’ve already established a deep connection in person, be wary of relationships that only ever exist online. There’s nothing wrong with liking each other’s Instagram photos or chatting on Messenger—in fact, these things can indeed further a friendship; but if you’re not able to look each other in the eye and have those same types of conversations in person, you might need to take a second look at your relationship.

No, in-person connection isn’t as convenient as the ever-efficient text message. But it’s real, and it’s worth the effort of being intentional, scheduling dinner together, and having a real conversation. You’ll be able to see each other’s facial expressions, hear tone of voice, and pick up on emotions that might’ve been confusing or hidden had you be communicating over technology. It’s certainly not bad to chat online—just take it in stride.