In my late teens and early twenties I often felt like most people, especially those in my peer group, were not willing to reciprocate my investment in friendship. There is a sentiment I regularly see today, that I felt during those years: that to figure out who one’s real friends are, one should go silent and wait to see who initiates contact. I am so thankful that I combated that feeling, because it’s just as revolting as those videos where people act like jerks toward a significant other to get a reaction.

The truth is, people grow and change, and everyone is dealing with their own problems — “fights on the outside, fears within.” People are raised differently, or want different things out of a friendship. Some are good at in-person friendships but uncomfortable with texting or calls. Everyone expresses affection differently, and develops trust at their own pace. Having a good friend starts with being a good friend — listening, talking, being patient, being forgiving. It may take quite a while before you see the fruits of your labor.

And so now, in my 30th year, I have several friends who make an effort to stay in touch — whether by initiating conversation or consistently replying when they have time. By developing insight, adjusting my expectations of others, and by focusing on being a good friend through patience and persistence, I have what I was seeking: not just friends, but confidence that they appreciate my efforts, and that they are doing their best in return.