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How Do I Know If My Friendship Is Falling Apart Or Just Low-Maintenance?

"You both acknowledge that growing individually doesn't mean growing apart."
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It’s interesting to imagine how friendships work—isn’t it necessary to have persistent contact for friendships to work? How do you remain friends when you don’t even talk? Well, as weird as it seems, such connections actually exist, and they’re often referred to as low-maintenance friendships. If you and a friend have this kind of connection, congrats! It’s a bit difficult to navigate through a complicated social setup, but you’re both making it work. So, how would I know if I am in the company of a low-maintenance friend, or if my relationship with them is simply spiraling down? Here are some things to note:

You don’t see each other for weeks because you’re both super busy, but you’re both very understanding of the situation.

Finals week is coming up and setting aside all the exams you have to study for, there’s still a mountain of papers you have to write and group projects you've yet to accomplish. Your friend, on the other hand, has thesis they need to write and an org project they need to organize. You both have no time to meet up, not even for a quick lunch at the cafeteria. But, even with the lack of physical interaction, you both have this innate understanding that, despite living separate lives, your friendship still remains intact. Your closeness doesn’t go away just because you’re trying to live your best life, even without constantly being at each other’s sides.

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You still make it a habit to check up on each other.

Maybe you and that friend go to different schools and have different schedules. But it’s nice to know that your friend still gets to sneak in a “How are you, I miss you” message on FB during their break time, even if you reply a few hours late because you had three straight classes that day. Sometimes, you would randomly get a text from that friend telling you how hyped they are over a TV show or movie (even if you’re not a super fan like them!) and feel relieved that, despite your busy and draining schedules, there’s something your friend still gets excited about in life and they choose to share it with you. You also appreciate it when they would sporadically reassure you that they are one call away for when you’re having a mental breakdown and feel like crying.

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It never feels awkward to meet up again after not seeing each other for so long.

Do you ever get that awkward feeling at a family gathering when you see that one cousin you used to play tagu-taguan with but haven’t seen in recent years? That isn’t the case for you and your low-maintenance friend, even if you’ve only ever caught glimpses of each other once or twice in the hallways for the entire semester.

Regardless of how petty it seems to other people, you still keep in touch on social media (if you both use it) by liking each other’s tweets or reacting to each other’s Instagram stories. You may not be seeing each other in person as often as you’d like, but you still manage to stay in touch and up-to-date with each other’s lives in some other way.  

You go through different things in life but you both know that your struggles are equally valid.

You never feel like you’re more preoccupied than your friend or that what you’re doing is far more socially relevant than whatever your friend is pursuing in life. You just know that you both have your own things going on. You struggle and cope in different ways, but are always there to cheer each other on for support, even in the littlest of gestures.  

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You both acknowledge that growing individually doesn’t mean growing apart.

Some people go weeks or months without seeing other and feel like they’re meeting up with a stranger because of how much the other person has changed. But for that low-maintenance friend, you’re still that caffeine-driven go-getter they met during the first day of college, only this time, you’re wiser and more emotionally stable than the last time they saw you. They would understand and support the fact that you’ve matured and learned a lot about life despite their absence, and you’d feel the same exact thing for them. 

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Mylene Mendoza
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I was, but I am not. Desperately, I am trying to reach you – my hope. I am in this particular space in my own constructed world where doubts and frustrations recur. Emphasizing how scared I am being here, I never explored this area before. I was always in those places filled with benevolence, hope shining like the light the sun and the moon possess. And I didn’t have any plans to visit a ‘dark’ place, as how I described it then. But, as funny as how my world suddenly flipped, I am now here, completely lost with monsters persuading me to go insane.

How did I end up here? I can’t logically tell you the answer for that, but I guess, I know when. It started when I had to consider what college course do I want to pursue. Well, if you want to ask what ambition had occurred in my mind when I was young – which is usually the case in terms of life when you were like 7-year-old young - it was definitely being a doctor. I’d thought about wearing a medical coat with a stethoscope around my neck, ready to cure people from their illnesses. It was actually stuck in my mind for so long I almost thought that I was sure of it, yet, as a particular song yields, almost was never really enough and still, it is and will never be.

When I realized that such a perspective was slowly draining me, I tried my best to stand tough. I convinced myself that this was just temporary, that I could think of a way out of this. “There’s still plenty of time,” I once convinced myself. However, my environment demonstrated the contrary: I felt like I was completely out of time.

I was there when my classmates were happily talking about that ‘dream course’ they wish to take in their ‘dream university.’ I was there when my family was suggesting the thought of using my ‘suitable’ speaking voice for broadcasting and voice acting purposes. I was there when my teacher was convincing me that Education suited me the best. That ‘Stand tough!’ aura I used to own back then, suddenly transformed into ‘I give up!’ state, slowly destroying my being. And now, I am here in this space where doubts and frustrations are filling my former enthusiastic self. I need help.

I know, at this point, some of you may never consider me ‘fatal’ because, as you’re reading this, you may judge that I still have the ability to transform my thoughts into words that can be read, so that ‘automatically’ falls into the aspect of complete sanity. No, because I will never tell everything to you in the first place if I still have the urge to stand like I used to, relative to my belief that speaking up through writing is the best way to attract help.

When you look at the photo of mine above, you may say that I was okay. That I was successful. That I was never losing myself. Yes, I was. But, think about what happened days after that was taken and the message of this passage you started reading minutes before, do you think I am still the same girl smiling in the photo? I hope I will be or better yet, improve if the world will permit me. But, now I’m sure – I’m not the same.

LIFE ADVICE YOU NEED TO HEAR WHILE YOURE STILL YOUNG

This blog is dedicated to all teens out there struggling in determining what they really want in their life or if you simply want a glow up. And since were still facing a pandemic, I think this is also a season where everyone is re-thinking about their lives. So, I hope these advices might help you.

Tip #1. TAKE RISK - since most of you are still young, I advice you to take your biggest risk. Whether it may be taking the course you want, a skill you want to acquire or just simply taking the risk to throw away your emotional baggage from your childhood. While you're still young, you have very little to lose. You dont have that much commitments and responsibilities. Because the older you get, the more responsibilities and obligations came. So when they are still not piling up, take the risk! As for me, the biggest risk I took when I was still a teenager is to CUT OFF TOXIC FAMILY TIES.

I may sound rude here but, yeah. I decided to throw away my emotional baggage from my traumatic childhood and cut off some of my family ties and it is completely okay! You dont have to be bothered by whatever they will say. Because at your age, you are already investing on your growth as a person. If you really want to grow, THERE IS NO PERFECT TIME FOR YOU TO TAKE RISK BUT NOW. Because in taking risk you are actually giving yourself a reward of getting something amazing or beyond what you expect you can have. As they say, the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. Keep in mind that the bigger the risk, the bigger possibility of FAILURE. But that is completely OKAY. Because just like what I said earlier, you are still young. You dont have so much to lose so, dont be afraid to take the risk and then fail. But after failing, learn from it and the more courage you have to take risk the greater the learning, reward or happiness. Ito na nga, how to take risk nga ba? And what are the risk that would actually help me to grow? #

2: VOICE LESSON - dont get me wrong, hindi ito vocalization para sa pagkanta. What I mean is, learn to listen to that VOICE INSIDE YOU. Listen to your heart, to your intuition and to your visions because it will be your GUIDE. Because I realize that as you go along your journey of your life and if you really want to be YOURSELF and be successful in achieving your goals, the only GUIDE that you should follow is your OWN VOICE.

It is okay to take and consider other people's advices but at the end of the day,you should never forget to listen to your own voice. Because that voice is what tells you what you truly want. How would you know that if it is your 'own' voice? Your own voice always comes from your HEART. The voice where YOU and GOD'S voice are one. Because I firmly believe that God knows your heart and that is where he reside. I like journaling because whenever I journal my thought every night and every morning, I feel a dual voice inside my head. Like, it contradicts what the other voice is telling. For example: If we have dreams or goals that puts us so much weight and pressure to the point that it makes you exhausted, STOP. Because it might be a dream or goal of someone else. I believe that your own dreams and goals may be frustrating most of the time, but that frustration has fueling feeling that will always tell you that 'This is the hard way to better so keep going'. Frustration in your own dreams will not make you feel exhausted because achieving a dream itself is a fulfilling feeling.

#3. TAKE ACTION - if you really want something to happen, take action. Dont just sit there and wait things to come your way. Make action or decisions that will take you to where you want to go in your life. Just like what I said in one of my novels that I am writing in wattpad, "There is no such thing as destiny or fate. Because YOU make your OWN life choices." For example, I cannot expect to be a published author if I dont write any novels right? The bottomline here is, if you are not moving forward you are actually moving backward. And it is a sad thing. Life is full of situations where you will be put in the line whether you take courage or just stay where you are. Because GROWING needs consistency in moving forward. So if you dont have to enough courage to take action, your life will always stay the same or worse you will continuously shrink down.

#4. EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS - this means stretching your comfort zone. I watched an anime entitled "Black Clover" there is a captain there where he always tell his subordinates to surpass their limits right, here right now. Going out of our comfort zones are surely scary and uncomfortable. But you have to accept the fact that you cannot stay on the coast forever. You have to change, because the only thing that is constant in this world is change right? Go out of your comfort zones because LIMITS are just in the MIND. There are disabled people who are successful in their own careers. Because the lesson here is, if you hold back there will be no growth. Because GROWTH blooms in DISCOMFORT.

Last, #5. INVEST IN YOURSELF - especially now that you are still young, you should focus on investing on yourself more. Time is your bestfriend at this point of your life. You have so much time to discover things about yourself. I never regret buying and reading books that I never knew will help me later on in dealing life's challenges. You can use that time to read books, gain wisdom, or pick a new skill, improve your talent and learn from your experiences. Keep learning outside your home or your school. Because the real battlefield is OUTSIDE. What you learn in school will only help you in your career but your wisdom and experiences will help you in life or as a person. People who doesnt embrace growth will never succeed in their life. (This is a reflection blog from my 21st birthday last week. I hope you can feature this on your page and I hope it can help others as well. )

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