The ideal friendship is when all the members have the same power over each other, but this is not how power dynamics in friendships work in reality.
Some people naturally want to show that they are superior to others, and there will be power plays between friends like there are power plays in a relationship.
Is this all bad? Because it seems like it is, and friendships can’t last long in those conditions, but why are there actual nice and healthy friendships? Does no one want to be superior and control the other, or how do they deal with it?
We will discuss all those questions in this article.
Should there be power dynamics in friendships?
In almost all friendships, there are different power dynamics, but it is almost impossible to find people who consider them perfectly equal to others.
Even if power dynamics in friendships don’t seem to be a good thing, they are not necessarily a bad thing. Some people want to be in control and want to feel superior to others, we can’t change that, at least not for long. On the other hand, some people always rely on others and can’t make a decision on their own, and people in between those two, so the situation is not always as black and white as we imagine.
Even if we like it or not, there will be people that have more power than others in friendships. In that case, it matters how they use their power over their friends. They use their power to make others do what is in their interest, or they help the friendship by being kind of a leader that makes decisions with their friends’ interests in mind.
The power dynamics in a friendship are tricky sometimes, it is not always obvious. It’s easy to see that someone has the power when they call all the shoots and usually the group listens to him, but it is not so obvious when there is someone that doesn’t agree with what the group wants and gets mad or sad every time things don’t go as they want. Crying(literally or not) when you don’t agree with someone can be a form of manipulative technique. That doesn’t mean that it is always that, but it can be, and sometimes it is not a conscious decision but rather an impulsive reaction.
Read Also: Surface-Level Friendship
How to know if the power dynamics are good or bad for the friendship?
So we decided that most likely, power dynamics exist in all types of friendships, there is always a scale from an obvious power dynamic to a barely noticeable one, so it’s not the same for all of us. But how to know if it’s a good or a bad thing?
If you feel like your friends care about you and your interest most of the time, then the power dynamics in your friendship are good. On the other hand, if you most of the time feel like you have to sacrifice what you want to make other friends happy, it is a sign that the power dynamics are not good for you in that friendship.
Sometimes we have to sacrifice what we want for the friendship when we consider that it is more important what other people want and we can’t achieve both, but it should not be most of the time but rather exceptions.
I had a big group of friends after college that I got them together from different circles even if sometimes this is not a good idea, in that case, it worked wonders, you can see more about keeping friend groups separate in this article.
So we were around 20 people that spent time together for parties and what were our interests at that time. I got them to know each other, and in many cases, I was the only person they really knew from the group.
My story about the power dynamics in friendships
Once when we were walking around the city to find a bar or something, a friend said:”Guys do you realize that we are following Dragos, and if he turns in another direction, we go without asking?”. This made it kind of clear that I call the shoots, it was natural for me to do that, especially because I knew the group better than all of them. But was that a good or a bad thing?
I always decided what, where and how we did things with the group’s interest in mind, I never organized a party or something that was convenient only for me, so even if I had the power in that group, the intentions behind it were good, and the friendship was nice until what kept us together wasn’t there anymore.
To be honest, what kept us together was the fact that all of us were single and in the group were almost an equal number of boys and girls. It is kind of obvious that when all of them found someone and had to set some boundaries with their friends, they started reducing or cutting all the hangouts with the group. The group was not as couple-friendly(not on purpose) due to all the parties and bar hangouts we had.
So, be aware if the person with the power in your friendship is genuinely a good person who wants what is the best for the majority in the group all the time.
Read Also: Bragging Vs. Sharing
Power dynamics in friendships exist, and they are quite natural, in my opinion, but you should pay attention if it is good or bad for you, no matter if you are the one in power or not.
The tricky part is realizing who has the power and knowing if they really want what’s best for the group. Most of the time, it is not as easy to realize that you are being manipulated to think that someone wants your best when they actually don’t care as much.