College Codependency

Separation anxiety in friendships is real

Pxfuel | Photo Courtesy
How many times have you seen your best friend this week?

Today, I found myself discussing with an acquaintance how much I missed my best friend. They asked, “Oh, have you not seen her very much lately?”

I thought about it and replied that I hadn’t. Lately, I had only been eating lunch with my best friend every day, dinner, sometimes breakfast and we were only seeing each other four or five nights a week.

This acquaintance looked at me like I was insane, insisting that I obviously was seeing my best friend a fair amount. But to me, I felt like I wasn’t. See, we were used to having breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, and seeing each other six or seven nights a week. Why didn’t this weirdo get it?

It slowly dawned on me that perhaps I was the weirdo. Perhaps spending every waking moment with your best friend was slightly outside of the usual. Then I started talking to people. Half the people I talked to completely agreed, they too spent all their free time with friends. Others (notably people I don’t see nearly as often) gave me a look that insisted I needed institutionalized help.

Around college campuses, it’s not uncommon to see the same groups or pairs of people together over and over again. When you live together, go to school together, it isn’t long before you eat together, go out together, bath together (just kidding, I hope), or any number of other things.

Codependency is never healthy, but it’s harder to draw that line of whether or not it’s dangerous when it comes to friendship.

You end up eating meals with friends, going to the gym with them, hanging out on campus. Eventually, you get to the point where your only free time is when you go to the bathroom.

When I arrived at college, I was used to spending a lot of time alone. In high school, I had come home from after school activities during the week and done schoolwork. It was a shock when I got to college and suddenly I could walk a door or two down in my residence hall to find my friends. Suddenly, instead of spending one or two nights a week with friends, I could spend every waking second with them.

This behavior doesn’t necessarily change when college students move off-campus. Now, instead of living in the same building or area, you’re living in the same place. Quickly, your parents and siblings are replaced by friends, minus the fighting over the remote (hopefully).

You end up eating meals with friends, going to the gym with them, hanging out on campus. Eventually, you get to the point where your only free time is when you go to the bathroom.

Maybe you’re thinking to yourself that you can think of examples of this behavior, but you don’t do anything like this. However, it seems most people at NDSU live with the same people they’re best friends with, and if they don’t, they escape to see their friends whenever they can.

You can still enjoy your free time and being by yourself while also realizing that you end up spending all your time with the same five or six people.

In romantic relationships, codependency is often a result of high-anxiety, a need for approval and the presence of self-defeating thoughts. In college friendships, though it usually has to do with convenience, free-time and boredom.

That’s not to say we wouldn’t spend time with our friends if we weren’t bored. However, living in a place like Fargo, where going to Target is a social activity, friends are one of the few ways to stay sane.

In a technical sense, most of these close college friendships don’t qualify as codependent. These friendships don’t often facilitate an unhealthy imbalance of power and they don’t require one of the friends to give up hobbies or other people.

Still, the college friendship exists as a unique chasm where two people can be incredibly close, depend on each other like siblings, and blend in with most other friend pairings around them.

All this being said: the constant time together, the inability to be alone and spending every moment with that same one or two people, none of this is really that bad in the long run. College friends are said to last for a reason. You get as close to college friends as many people hope to get to their siblings and you forge bonds that have the capability to last a lifetime. 

So maybe it’s not behavior to carry into adulthood; it might throw people if you’re still eating every meal with your best friend in your 40’s. But for now, enjoy the time together, as it certainly won’t be this way forever.

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