03/17/2014 08:34 am ET Updated Mar 17, 2014

7 Amazing Things You Gain When You Don't Have A 'Best Friend' In Your 20s


There's a scene in "Francis Ha" that perfectly captures what happens to female best friends as they venture deeper into their 20s. Francis is talking to Sophie, her "best friend" who has recently been wrapped up in a committed relationship with a man named Patch, and she says this:

It's just that if something funny happens on the way to the deli, you'll only tell one person about it and that'll be Patch and I'll never hear about it.

And that's just it. That's what we start to miss, the little moments that a bi-monthly brunch couldn't even begin to cover. As I near the other side of 25, I've looked around at my "best" friendships and noticed a stark change. No longer are we asking ourselves each Friday night, "What are we doing this weekend?" Now it's, "What am I doing?"

When you're someone who spent the better part of college in your best friend's bed watching Bravo television while mindlessly eating entire sleeves of Oreos, it can be jarring to realize you're not a team anymore -- at least not in the same way. Suddenly, time isn't as disposable as it was when you were a high school or college student. You're balancing work schedules with dating and family. Life becomes more of an every-woman-for-herself scenario until one day you wake up and realize: Do I even know when her cycle is anymore?*

The good news is that this is okay, great even. Here's why:

1. You're forced to step out of your social comfort zone more often.

Without a go-to person to lean on in social situations, you're more likely to strike up conversation with a new friend (or new future boyfriend/girlfriend, for that matter). Going to parties solo can be a great way to not only meet people, but also to test your boundaries. Who knows? Maybe you're secretly the life of the party. And if you're not, simply learning that you have nothing to lose in these situations can do wonders for your self-esteem.

2. You re-examine your priorities.

Did best friend FOMO stop you from hitting the gym on a weekly basis or applying for that summer internship? When you don't have the option to hang with someone 24/7, you take more "me" time, crossing things off your to-do list rather than spending another 30 minutes making fun of the gown selections on "Say Yes To The Dress." (Important: I regret nothing.) If you're feeling particularly lonely and best friend-less, go to that spin class, take those ukulele lessons or decorate your poor, neglected apartment. The sense of accomplishment will feel fantastic.

3. You make room for new types of relationships.

If you and your bestie are finishing each other's sentences, it might be hard for anyone else to enter the picture, platonically or otherwise. As your relationship with your best friend matures, you'll become more accessible to people, even ones who've been around all along. Maybe you'll finally grab that happy hour drink with your co-worker or you'll realize that your next-door neighbor is actually pretty funny (and also shamelessly watches "Say Yes To The Dress").

4. You actually have personal secrets now.

Back in the day, there was nothing about me or anyone around me my best friend didn't know. I mean nothing. Keeping some things to yourself can feel great, though. Plus, your family and friends will start trusting you, rather than assuming that everything they tell you will be shared with your best friend, too.

5. You learn how to handle life's small problems on your own.

All of those nit-picky, daily troubles? You'll stop dwelling on the small stuff if you don't have someone to Gchat or text at all hours of the day every time something bothers you a little. Without that automatic outlet for your complaints, you can't indulge those sometimes-counter-productive emotional whims.

6. You might discover different sides to yourself.

It can be easy to default to the "you" that you are around your best friend, even if you're a multi-faceted snowflake of a person. Surrounding yourself with different people more often can allow you to discover a side to yourself you didn't even know existed. Sure, you're a 12-year-old goofball around your best friend, but you might just be a film noir buff in-the-making, too -- and you should allow yourself to try that on for size more often.

7. You can always have a "best friend" session like old times.

Just because you're a 20-something "adult" with a desk job and a collection of sensible Ann Taylor cardigans (again, no regrets), that doesn't mean you and your best friend can't still grab a slice of avocado and goat cheese pizza (I swear it's good), watch "Drumline" for the millionth time, pretend to power walk or try an inordinate amount of samples at a froyo shop before deciding on cake batter again. Your get-togethers might only be a monthly occurrence now, but that will just make you appreciate your friend more, encouraging you to relish the moments you do have together.

*I'll cede that this is perhaps a bit creepy, but isn't that the point of having a bestie?



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