When I was a kid, I remember how easy it was for me to make friends and keep them—especially in elementary school. I vividly recall many of my childhood friendships starting at the school playground during recess with a simple introduction, followed by someone saying, “Do you want to play tag?”
But as time progressed, it got harder to maintain friendships. I’ve found this to be especially true in adulthood, when time seems limited, schedules get busy, people move and others change and evolve as they experience the trials and tribulations of being a grownup.
I’ve been lucky to make amazing friends throughout my life—several of whom I’ve been friends with for over 10 years. These are the people who are there for me whenever I need them—whether it’s planning a wedding from scratch with me in a month, helping me survive my husband’s first deployment or just being a listening ear in the good and bad times.
But keeping friendships strong as you grow older takes work. It’s not as simple as when you were a kid and saw each other frequently at school or church. You and your friends are on your own life journeys, and you may not see each other as often as you would hope.
The key to keeping your friendships alive in adulthood is communication. Communicating plays a vital role in preserving important relationships. You make friends by communicating with one another, and you keep them the same way. Here are three ways to maintain friendships as an adult:
Check in with good friends you haven’t heard from in a while
It’s easy to lose touch with your friends. Between work, school and all of our daily responsibilities, connecting with friends is hard. This is definitely something I struggle with now that I have my own family and career, as well as having most of my friends living in different states.
But in the middle of all the busyness and stress, it’s important to check in with friends and make sure they’re OK—especially if you haven’t heard from them in a while. Social media updates are nice, but you’ll miss important moments for your friends if you rely on the occasional Instagram update to see how they’re doing. And these may be the times they need you most.
A simple, “How are you?” shows them you are thinking about them, even when you both have a million things going on. It doesn’t need to be an elaborate or thought-provoking conversation—just one that shows you care.
Have regular gatherings with friends
While seeing each other every day may not be possible, make it a point to set aside time each month for gatherings with your friends. When I lived in California, my friends and I met regularly for dinner. And most of the highlights of living in Louisiana have been lunch dates with close friends.
And if you’re not able to meet in person, plan times to Facetime so you can still speak “face-to-face” virtually and have time for quality conversations together.
This gives you some much needed time to catch up on everything going on in your lives, reconnect and continue to build and strengthen your friendships.
It also makes for amazing memories filled with tons of laughter—and, at times, tears—that serve as a reminder that you are not alone in the world. You have people who love and support you.
Plan a trip to see friends who live far away from you
At some point, friends are bound to move as different opportunities or circumstances come about that take them to cities further away—maybe even a different continent. I ended up in Louisiana, while most of my friends are either in California or spread out across the country.
If it’s possible for you, try and plan a trip to visit good friends that live far away from you. If the opportunity presents itself, take it and soak in all the time you can with them. You won’t regret it.
I’ve been able to visit friends in Texas, Colorado, Tennessee and California. And those experiences have been so worth the miles driven or cost of a plane ticket—especially when I see how much love my friends have for my daughter when they are able to interact with her in person. And it’s really fun to see my friends’ kids bond with my child.
These visits are moments I cherish. And every time I reunite with my friends, it’s like the time has never passed. We talk, we go on adventures and make the most of the moments we’re able to spend together. It’s like we’re picking up right where we left off.
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