Even though we do, in fact, have friends, we can still recognise that friendships are v v v v tough.
Striking the balance of being supportive but not overbearing; of maintaining your connection but not being in each other’s DMs 24/7; or of (gently!) calling them out when they do something shitty but still letting them know you’re here for them and their growth is all Difficult Friendship Shit.
But since we’re all in a constant state of self-improvement—educating ourselves on important topics; getting on that therapy tip—finding out how to be a better friend or realising that you need a better friend is something we should all do.
For this very reason, we enlisted professional best friends Steph Claire Smith and Laura Henshaw (no, seriously, they do this for a living) and Keep It Cleaner founders (they just re-launched their KIC app this week and we can confirm our whole bodies feel like Ow) to talk BFF myths, how to cut off someone negative and what to do if you’re butting heads with a mate over something important.
Q: Am I only allowed to have *one* best friend?
A: Absolutely fucking not.
“It’s a myth that absolutely needs to be debunked,” says Steph in her FaceTime call. “The last time I felt that pressure of having one best friend when I was in high school. When you might have felt close to a friend, and if you saw them close with someone else, you got a little jealous like, ‘Well you’re my best friend so I should be yours!’ It’s so not the case.”
“You can have multiple best friends and you can have best friends for many different reasons, and have totally different relationships with each one of them.”
Q: What should I do if I have a friend who hypes me up online but talks down to me IRL?
A: They ain’t for you.
“That is not a good friend,” says Laura. “It can work both ways. Someone who might be really nice to you in real life, but on social media or on any public forum doesn’t acknowledge that you’re their friend as if they’re embarrassed of your friendship. That really sucks, as well.”
“But I think if someone is playing it up online but not in real life, it defeats the whole purpose of friendship. It’s performative, because you’re only being supportive because others will see, not because you want to support your friend.”
“Your friend should always have the best intentions in wanting to support you, and they should want to support you because they love you and want you to be happy. Not because they want other people to think they’re a good person.”
And the sealer from Steph: “And remember it doesn’t have anything to do with you. It’s their problem.”
Q: How do I set boundaries with a friend who expects me to alwaaaaays be there?
A: Just let ’em know!
“As a friend, you want to be there for your friends, you want to be supportive, you want to be there when they need you—absolutely,” says Steph. “But there does come a time when you also need support, you need to support yourself, the others around you. You haven’t just got one person in your life. That’s when it can get too much.”
“I have had friends in that past that have come to me and I’m happy to support them and I love to support them and bring them up and make them feel good, but I never really get that reciprocated. I give so much, and don’t really get it back.”
“If you have a friendship like that, sometimes they don’t even realise they’re doing it. They’re so stuck in a funk that you just need to be a bit more open in communication. Say, ‘I’m here for you whenever you need it, but I also need to talk you to about something,’ or, ‘I need to do this,’ or ‘I need some time’… If they’re a good enough friend, they’ll respect that and want to be there for you, too.”
“That the key with friendship: Keep communication open and honest. Don’t feel like you’re not being a good friend if you have to do that. If it comes to the point where you feel like you can’t be there for someone 24/7, that doesn’t say anything negative about you. It just says you need to look after yourself.”
Q: How do I deal with a friend who makes comments about food and exercise bc they want you to be ‘healthy’ but they sometimes make you feel bad?
A: Explain to them that health is different for everyone!
“This brings me back to why we started Keep It Cleaner in the first place, that’s because health is different for everyone and no one is the same. It’s all about balance. You need to remember it’s your choice.”
“Your friend might want to run marathon, but if you don’t like running, you don’t have to run a marathon! You can just say to them, ‘It’s amazing that you want to do that and I support you’, but it doesn’t mean that to support your friend, you have to run the marathon with them.”
“KIC is all about exercising and moving in ways that you find fun, and eating food that might be ‘healthy’ but it’s also delicious and tastes really good! And someone else might be really strict with their health choices and that’s fine for them! But it might not work for you. Everyone is so different.”
“Being supportive doesn’t have to look like running beside them, it can mean being on the sidelines and clapping them on. With a treat.”
Steph added: “Just talk to them about it. Tell them that you’re doing you, and they can do them.”
Q: If I want to go into business with a friend, how can I protect the friendship?
A: Make sure you tend to the non-business part of your friendship.
“Like any relationship or any partnership, things can go wrong,” says Steph. “I’m not gonna say, ‘If you go into business with your friend, nothing’s ever gonna go wrong.’ Because with some friendships, it won’t work.”
“With you and I, we went in with the exact same goal and aspiration from what we wanted from KIC, it just worked. And while we’re very different people and we disagree on things, we always work through it. You have to have so much respect for the other person, and you need to understand when it’s okay to let go.”
The other thing to remember? “If you’re going to go into business with a friend, remember that they are your friend. You’ve gotta go back to your roots and water the plants of your friendship and make sure it’s still just as strong.”
Consider our plants… watered and our friendships strengthened. Thanks, ladies.
The newly re-launched Keep It Cleaner app features an updated platform with new trainers, new recipes and meal plans and a new digital workout studio.