Folks! Friends! Fellow humans living on this nice crispy earth!
The year is 2023. The global is warming, the 1 are %ing and things are looking iffy… Enter the Soft Apocalypse! It’s time for us to give capitalism the finger, and return to our humble roots as a pastoral society that bakes bread and sings Kumbaya way too often. AKA my escapist daydream when the Stresses of Life get a bit too much (my Soft Apocalypse plan includes joining a commune and ✨becoming one with the wilderness while I process seeing the Eras Tour movie✨).
Welcome to Soft Apocalypse for Beginners, where we will be embarking on a journey of Learning to Look After Ourselves Even if the World is Ending (and saving the bees while we’re at it)!
It’s the [Fri]End Times and you’re only as strong as your commune, so today is a crash course in Having Healthy Friendships by me (a certified Friend who receives an enormous amount of trickle-down therapy through Pinterest).
Friendships can sometimes be more complicated to manage than romantic relationships simply because we live in a romance-obsessed society, and so we’re constantly being bombarded with advice, dos/don’t-dos, and narratives that are tuned towards maintaining or ending romantic relationships. While some of these lessons are applicable to our friendships too, we often fall down because we just don’t think about having to apply them. But unhealthy friendships and poor boundaries with your platonic pals can be just as damaging as the worst romantic relationship.
So here I am with your annual reminder that the ancient Greeks had eight words for love (including words specifically for the love and connection between friends), and it’s time we all invested a little more into looking after our friendships.
One Flag, Two Flag, Red Flag, [Green] Flag
It’s 2023 and red/green flags aren’t just for romantic relationships any more. While it’s great to DIY the flag identification in your relationships, sometimes the best thing to do is to consult the impartial judge of a healthy relationship checklist. This can be especially helpful if you’ve experienced gaslighting in the past and want the validation of an unbiased outside source.
Some examples of red flags could look like:
- Your friend putting you down, hurting your feelings, or causing you deliberate discomfort
- Feeling drained after every interaction with them
- Nagging or pressuring you into something you’re not comfortable with
- Their friendship and support are conditional
Good vibey green flags might look like:
- Sharing positive, uplifting experiences together
- You both have lives and relationships outside of your friendship
- They celebrate your wins rather than getting jealous
- You feel comfortable expressing boundaries with one another
In Our Boundaries Era
I’ve spent the last couple of years getting into my boundaries era – and ngl it absolutely slaps. Having better boundaries has been insanely helpful with improving my relationships with family, friends, partners, myself, my finances, my phone… Anything you can think of, I’ve slapped a boundary on it. And don’t get me wrong, it can be hard and embarrassing and make you say “ew ew ew” while doing an uncomfortable dance and crying alone in your room. But it’s been completely worth it. Boundaries are a vital form of self-care, and anyone who tells you that it’s selfish to protect yourself is a Bit of a Twerp. Because here’s the thing – anybody who loves you, respects you, and is worth any of your time will be proud of you for looking out for yourself.
As we’ve established, I am not a therapist, I am just a vibey lady who likes boundaries and Taylor Swift. So instead of walking you through the boundary setting process, allow me to direct you to:
- The No BS Guide to Protecting Your Emotional Space
- 10 Ways to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries
- And this YouTube clip of me doing a Supportive Boundaries Cheer Routine
Go forth! Block that person, mute that channel, set that bedtime, tell your overbearing auntie that you don’t like it when she pinches your cheek! I believe in you <3
And I extra believe in your ability to forgive me for that YouTube clip <3
Friendship is a Two-Way Street (and other things the Muppets might have said)
Do I need to say more than that heading? Friendship is a two-way street – not only do you have to make sure the friends in your life are right for you, but it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re being a good friend to others. Now, this doesn’t mean sacrificing yourself or your needs to make them happy (boundaries, remember?). But it does mean that it takes two to platonic tango.
Is your friend always the one making plans, taking cute candids of you, and generally romanticising the world into a nicer place for the two of you to be? The emotional labour is very real, so it’s always worth a check-in to make sure you’re contributing equally to the relationship. If you feel like maybe you’re getting your affection wires crossed (not an innuendo), maybe take a love languages quiz and see if there are better ways for you to make each other feel cared about.
Do it for the found family trope. And make some friendship bracelets while you’re at it.
Squad / Tokuda-Hall, Maggie
“Becca moves to an upscale Silicon Valley suburb and is surprised when she develops a bond with girls who belong to the popular clique – and even more surprised when she learns their secrets”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)
We used to be friends : a novel / Spalding, Amy
“At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love and having a future that feels wide open”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)
The Ivies / Donne, Alexa
“The Ivies, five prep school elites who would kill to get into the colleges of their dreams, has a showdown after Liv gets into Harvard and queen bee Avery does not.” (Catalogue)
How to break up with your friends : finding meaning, connection, and boundaries in modern friendships / Falconer, Erin
“With clear-eyed guidance, you’ll learn how to take stock of those currently in your life, see exactly how you are serving each other, deepen your essential friendships, and, ultimately, have the courageous conversations needed when it’s time to “break up” with others.”– Provided by publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The kid table / Seigel, Andrea
“Explores the quirky dynamics in an extended family full of close-knit cousins who both help and hinder each other as they celebrate holidays and momentous occasions together.” (Catalogue)
Elles 2 : The Elle-Verse / Toussaint, Kid
“Elle is just another teenage girl… most of the time. Bubbly and good-natured, she wastes no time making friends on her first day at her new school. But Elle has a secret: she hasn’t come alone. She’s brought with her a colorful mix of personalities, which come out when she least expects it… Who is Elle, really? And will her new friends stand by her when they find out the truth?” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The do-over / Painter, Lynn
“Sixteen-year-old Emilie, stuck in a cosmic Groundhog/Valentine’s Day nightmare where she discovers her family is splitting up and her boyfriend is cheating on her, decides to embark upon The Day of No Consequences, but when her repetitive day suddenly ends, she must face the consequences of her actions.” (Catalogue)
The Raven Boys / Stiefvater, Maggie
“Though she is from a family of clairvoyants, Blue Sargent’s only gift seems to be that she makes other people’s talents stronger, and when she meets Gansey, one of the Raven Boys from the expensive Aglionby Academy, she discovers that he has talents of his own–and that together their talents are a dangerous mix.” (Catalogue)
Three sides of a heart : stories about love triangles
“These top YA authors tackle the much-debated trope of the love triangle, and the result is sixteen fresh, diverse, and romantic short stories you don t want to miss. A teen girl who offers kissing lessons. Zombies in the Civil War South. The girl next door, the boy who loves her, and the girl who loves them both. Vampires at a boarding school. Three teens fighting monsters in an abandoned video rental store.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
What is consent, why is it important, and other big questions / Spilsbury, Louise
“”A detailed look at the concept of consent, how it works, and why it matters. The book encourages children to think about what consent means to them, and about the importance of personal boundaries – both knowing your own, and respecting other people’s. It talks about how to say no, and what to do if you feel your consent has been violated.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The teenage guide to friends / Morgan, Nicola
“A comprehensive guide to teenage friendships, by award-winning author and well-being expert Nicola Morgan […] Contents include a section on making friends, keeping friendships strong, and what happens when they break down – as well as a look at online friendships, cyber-bullying, toxic friendships and frenemies, and empathy.” (Adapted from Catalogue)