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Low maintenance vs. High maintenance friends

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

Disclaimer: I'm not trying to tell you what type of friend you should be. Be you and be great at it.

"When I'm by myself I renew myself." - Adrienne Bailon

So I've seen this ongoing debate on TikTok for a while now, where low maintenance friends are being labeled as bad friends. Low maintenance can be defined as someone who is easy to please and doesn't require constant pampering, attention, etc. The concept of being low maintenance isn't labeled a negative thing until you add on the friendship aspect. From a friend perspective low maintenance can be viewed as somebody you don't talk to everyday, but they are there when you need them or somebody that you don't see frequently, but when you link up everything is still the same. I don't think either type of friend is better than the other, but rather it comes down to your expectations, personality, attachment style, love language, and where the relationship falls at on the friendship spectrum that determines if somebody is a bad friend.

Expectations. A lot of issues within a friendship comes from unsaid expectations. It's unfair to label somebody as a bad friend if you've never vocalized your needs. Also setting expectations when you're making new friends will help you avoid pouring into people who don't plan to reciprocate that same energy. For example, when I lived in NC I didn't expect to see my friends every week not even every month, but I did expect them to show up if I was having a birthday celebration or hosting a major event such as when I had my book signing. Everybody's expectations is different and some people have high maintenance standards for friends who are clearly low maintenance. Whether your low or high maintenance you need to be honest about what type of person you are and don't agree to expectations that you can't abide by in the long run. It's very annoying to have friends who overcommit and under deliver.

Personality. What type person you are plays a huge role in the type of friends you'll attract. I'm an introvert and I like to go outside when I feel like it, and thankfully all of my friends are very similar to me in this aspect. Sometimes I feel like the high maintenance friend needs to re-evaluate why they're always attracting and befriending low maintenance people.

Attachment styles. This is a psychological concept and there's four attachment styles: secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant. How people learned to develop and engage in relationships as a child tends to resemble how they're going to show up in a friendship. A lot of people have the desire to be a better friend (low maintenance) or stop being such a needy friend (high maintenance), but they don't know how or care enough to change their behaviors which is linked to their attachment style. For example, there are times that I want to be a better friend meaning I want to let my friends be there for me and be more open about some of my struggles. However I have a dismissive avoidant attachment style which means I'm self-reliant and I'm going to avoid my friends when I'm going through something. All of my friends know how I am and nobody takes my absence personally. Knowing your attachment style and being aware of somebody else's will stop your mind from automatically believing that somebody is a good or bad friend. Another example is if you struggle with abandonment (anxious-preoccupied) as a child something as small as your friend not answering your calls or declining a dinner date can be viewed as she's being a bad friend when in reality she's low maintenance and she still shows up for important events.

Love languages. There's five love languages that explain how people express love in their relationships, and outside of romantic relationships this concept can be applied to friendships as well. The five languages are gifts, physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, and acts of service. Once again knowing your love language and being willing to learn and love somebody in their language is key to maintaining a healthy friendship. For example, quality time and words of affirmation are my love languages. Therefore I don't want to see my friends frequently, but we do see each other those moments mean the world to me. I would rather a friend show up for my birthday party vs. sending a gift in place of their absence. The value of time is more important to me than the value of a gift.

Friendship spectrum. There's levels and different purposes when it comes to maintaining a friendship. For levels there's the best friends, close friends, work friends, associates, etc. which tends to correlate with the purpose of each friendship. It's unfair to have the same requirements for a best friend vs. an associate. An associate is an associate for a reason and your bff is your bff for a reason. You're supposed to be able to count on your bff differently than an associate. Therefore, is an associate really being a bad friend or they're fulfilling their duties as a low maintenance friend according to the friendship spectrum. For example, a few years ago a former co-worker wanted to be my friend which was cool. However she wanted to talked everyday and do stuff like go to the mall after we got off from work. She was treating me like a bff and eventually I was labeled a bad friend when in reality I was a work friend who had potential to become a close friend, but the friendship hadn't developed to that level yet. Correctly categorizing your friends would also dead this low vs. high maintenance topic. Outside of a best friend or close friends I don't think nobody else friendship wise should have high maintenance standards.

Here's my honest opinion..

I'm a low maintenance friend and the older I get the more I don't understand the mentality behind high maintenance friendships. As an adult most people are working at least 40 hours a week, while some people are furthering their education, having kids, etc. it's unrealistic to talk to or see your homegirls every day or every weekend. The friend groups on social media is cute, but that's not real life if you have more than three or four quality friends.

Also more friendships need to adapt a secure attachment style and understand that not talking for days, weeks, etc. doesn't mean somebody is mad or y'all are beefing. Unless one party has said that they're upset, there's no valid reason to assume that you're losing your friend or y'all aren't on good terms just because y'all haven't talked in a while. Some females need to grow up, and if you feel some type of way communicate your needs and feelings. You're friends aren't mind readers, and for the record indirect social media post or re-shares isn't a form of healthy communication.

Another thing is some of y'all are too invested in your friendships and you need to get busy living your life. One thing I noticed with this debate is the low maintenance doesn't call or keep the high maintenance friend up to date on everything which I thought was normal, but from the comments a lot of people don't believe that they're your real friend unless they know what's going on with you on a day to day or week by week bases. It's okay to care about your circle and want to know what's going on with them, but you're not entitled to know everything about your friends and you're definitely not entitled to speak your unsolicited opinion regarding their life and their choices. High maintenance friends tend to overshare and have co-dependency issues while low maintenance friends are more private. Somewhere between high school and becoming an adult some people see the value in not oversharing while some people remain co-dependent.

A short story about what type of friend I am...

I'm a low maintenance friend across the board, whether I'm your bff, close friend, or an associate. Thankfully all of my friends are low maintenance as well and nobody takes it to heart when weeks or months have gone by and we haven't done anything more than shared a quick laugh in the DMs.

My top two love languages are quality time and words of affirmation. Traveling with my friends and being present for major events are some of my favorite ways to receive love and I love how some of friends will send me words of encourage out of the blue when they sense that something is off with me. Having a spiritual connection with your friends hits different.

As I mentioned earlier I have a dismissive avoidant attachment style and my friends know that I love them down, but I will move on with my life and never speak to you again if maintaining the relationship becomes problematic. Nurturing close relationships is already a struggle for me so imagine how uninterested I am in dealing with problematic people. They also know that I prefer to suffer in silence and when I'm ready to talk I'll reach out to them.

Lastly, all my friends know that I don't like unannounced calls or FaceTimes. Small talk or minimal life updates unless we're in person or you're in the best friend category tends to annoy me. Everybody else only calls when they need sound minded advice regarding life, quitting a job, or leaving somebody's dusty son.

Everything I just said may come off as if I'm a bad friend according to social media standards but my friends can always count on me to show up when it's important and I know how to be there and support them in various ways without overstepping my boundaries.

To conclude finding your tribe takes time and as you grow as a person you should anticipate your friendships changing as well. Whether you're a high or low maintenance friend you deserve love and people around you that reciprocate your same energy.

"Best friend, you my motherfuckin' soulmate"

- Saweetie

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