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Do Grownups Still Need Squads?

Or do you just need a few good, true friends?

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illustration of ladies drinking tea by roeqiya fris
Roeqiya Fris
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In my senior year of high school, J, B, D and I were inseparable. Sometimes we got together just two or three at a time, but for most activities we were a solid foursome.

Being a part of a “squad” gave me comfort. I felt a sense of belonging. I sat with the same people at lunch every day. I didn’t worry about having to walk into parties alone because I had my crew. When prom came around, the four of us shared a limo with our dates; on graduation we took pictures together. We were a circle, connected and equidistant from each other. Think Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte — though hanging out at basement parties instead of cool nightclubs and with much less expensive clothes and way bigger hair.

Since that time I haven’t been a part of a best-friend squad. Sometimes I miss the stability I felt having a set crew, where all the members are friends (or at least friendly enough) and celebrate each other’s birthdays or go out for monthly brunches or girls’ nights. I’ve socialized in groups, like book clubs and soccer moms, but it hasn’t been that same type of cohesive squad that did everything together like my high school buddies.

Part of the reason may be because I outgrew this kind of social dynamic. Amber Trueblood, a marriage and family therapist, explains, “Younger women tend to seek out group interactions more readily. Older women may find more satisfaction in socializing with one or two women at a time.” It’s true; as I have gotten older, I do prefer intimate dinners with one or two friends over big parties.

Another factor is my socialization personality. Amy Schoen, a life coach at Heart-Mind Connection Coaching, explains, “Extroverts tend to love group gatherings because they get to see several of their friends at once. They love the synergy of being with different people, and don’t want to get stuck with one person for a long period of time or have to get into deep conversation with someone. They can flitter around like a butterfly and have pleasant social conversation.”

I tend to have trouble when it comes to flittering and small talk. I’m more comfortable with one-on-one conversations, and this is true of most introverts.

Schoen explains, “It’s more intimate. You get to really focus on that person and get to know them.”

But I think the biggest reason why I haven’t become part of a squad as an adult is because of the difficulties that can arise in keeping everyone in a group feeling included. Dynamics can change over time and circumstances.

A friend of mine always had a squad of four best friends who met when their kids were little over 20 years ago. They were like family, celebrating occasions big and small together. She couldn’t imagine a time when they wouldn’t all be close.

But then two of the women had a falling out. My friend tried not to get in the middle of it and be a friend to everyone, but the damage was done. The argument made group interactions uncomfortable, and all of the individual relationships were adversely impacted.

Even if there isn’t a falling out, some people are naturally going to be closer than others. As Trueblood explains, “If group members are predominantly confident and secure with themselves and their friendships, differences in closeness between subsets in the group are not likely to create problems for other group members. However, if the group members hold jealousy and insecurity about their value or placement in the group, then subsets of closer members will likely disrupt the overall group dynamic.”

Being part of a squad definitely enhanced my senior year, and I will always have fond memories of our foursome. But it is my individual connection to one of those women, D, that has lasted beyond high school and enhanced my life for over three decades. In the end, you don’t need a squad. You just need a few good, true friends.