This Vid On Why Adult Friendships Fade Is A Perf Reason Not To Believe Everything On TikTok

adult friendships theory on tiktok

A TikToker has posted a compelling theory on what affects the longevity of adult friendships and there’s a lot to break down in her video. Thinking hats on, phones on “do not disturb”. Let’s discuss.

TikTok creator Liz @IAmLizendary published the clip in February and it is STILL gaining traction on people’s For You Pages. Once the algorithm gets a hold of something, it truly does not let go.

The video is titled “Participating vs Catching Up Friendship Theory” and essentially makes the case that taking an active role in a friendship makes the relationship healthier in the long run.

It also raises a few interesting ideas about what the overall point of adult friendships should be in the year 2023. It’s here that we take issue with a couple of Liz’s otherwise well-constructed points.


making each other laugh is also helpful, and it’s participating friendship #love #adulting #twenties #friends #bff

♬ original sound – lizendary 💕

“I had this feeling for a while that if you aren’t doing something, participating in something with your friend, that friendship is going to fade away,” Liz begins.

“Are you helping each other solve problems and participating in whatever issues that they have, or are you just trying to tell each other what’s going on?”

Liz then contends that if you aren’t “helping a friend when you’re catching up”, the friendship will fade and you and your pal “won’t have much in common any more”.

Liz says the reason she thinks “Adults have such a hard time with friendships” is because so much time is spent just catching each other up.

“But are you catching up to help each other out or are you catching up for the sake of catching up, and is it not so useful, pleasurable, fun or whatever?”


Lots to sift through here.

First up, some positives.

Liz has definitely diagnosed an issue that many adults experience. That is, losing touch with friends you once felt close to because you’ve both started prioritising other things.

Another is the importance of being there for your friends in more than a superficial sense. Helping your mates with their problems, big or small can be key to some relationships and finding time to do so gets progressively harder as you become older.

Where Liz’s point becomes a little muddled is her tendency to conflate “helping your friend solve their problems” and “being a good friend”.

In Liz’s video, she argues that  “catching up” is a surface-level endeavour that doesn’t provide either person with enough value to continue the relationship. The friendship then begins to break down, according to her model.

What’s prickly about this assumption is that she fails to take into account the range of sources from which folks in adult friendships fill their “problem-solving” cup, per se. You can solve problems with your family, your partner or even your therapist. Sometimes, friends are just for fun!

Moreover, people have extremely different wants and needs when it comes to friendships. For example, sometimes when I chat with my mates, I don’t want to “solve problems”. I actually just want to talk shit and temporarily suspend reality, ignoring all my real-world issues in pursuit of a laugh and a good yarn.

Sometimes, just being in the room is enough! Having a chat about nothing is enough.

Depending on how deep you wanted to follow this rabbit hole (I have a degree in anthropology so go with me for a second), the need to view your friendships as nothing but a problem-solving utility could even be criticised as hyper-capitalistic.

It’s symptomatic of a world where industriousness tops everything and our relationships “fall apart” if they aren’t “useful”. Supposedly, there must be an underlying application to having friends beyond that of pleasure.

I can’t help but feel there’s also a bit of projecting going on here. Perhaps this is something that works for her, and that’s totally fine. But we run into trouble when we try to paint everyone with the same brush.

Problem-solving, for many people, isn’t a necessary part of some of their friendships. That being said, it also wouldn’t be wrong to say having a good laugh isn’t “problem-solving” if the problem you’re solving is that you’ve been blue recently and need some cheering up?

I know I’d definitely keep a friendship going if every time I caught up with that friend they made me laugh until I cried. True?

Anyway, whatever. It’s just a TikTok.

Calm the fuck down @me.