maintaining friendships as an adult

I was looking through wedding pictures this past week (Brook's and my anniversary was this past Tuesday on the 2nd!), and I came across my bridal party pictures and got so sentimental and emotional! As we get older, life becomes so hectic and we have less time to devote to our friendships. It's not often talked about, how navigating the adult world in terms of maintaining friendships can be so challenging at times.

In high school and college, friendships are a lot more proximity-based. Everyone tends to be experiencing routines, purely due to age and life circumstances. It’s easier to remain friends with people when you see them on a regular schedule and have things in common, such as attending classes, being on the same sports team, or being a part of the same club. Sharing a living space while being young, whether in a college dorm or an apartment, forms special bonds and experiences with people that are unique to that stage of life. Even post-college, working solely from home especially, has held unique challenges that I had not considered before; I don’t have coworkers I see regularly, and that is a huge part of meeting new people and creating adult friendships.

I think one of the most important things to remember when keeping friendships as an adult is to be understanding. As an adult, people are in so many different stages of life; some are married, some are having kids, some are traveling frequently, some are working long hours, some are living at home, some are in school. Forming and upholding relationships that transcend whatever stage of life someone may be in can be challenging, due to relatability or even just sheer lack of time. I think it’s safe to say that as we age, the responsibilities we take on intensify, and juggling relationships amidst figuring out what we want to do and who we want to be requires patience, open-mindedness, and maturity. I know I don’t have a lot of free time throughout the day because I have work to attend to or appointments to be at, and sometimes I can’t respond to people right away. Whereas in high school, this could be taken a sleight, as an adult, constant communication just isn’t feasible at all times. Being patient and gracious with friends when we’re all busy and have a multitude of things occupying our minds at all times is so important.

At the same time, making time amongst busy schedules and being present is what makes a lasting friendship. In a similar vein to romantic relationships, friendships don’t require grand gestures; small tokens and heartfelt sentiments often mean the most and have the most lasting impact. Texting a friend that you’re thinking of them or going out of your way to buy a friend coffee when they’re having a hard day is so meaningful. Time is such a precious commodity, and offering it to a friend often signifies love more than a material item ever could. It’s been helpful to set aside time in my schedule that is dedicated to seeing friends, because planning in advance alleviates the stress of trying to fit it into my schedule last-minute. Make a goal with friends who are in proximity to you to see each other on set time(s), and that way everyone is on the same page about expectations. Communication is key to any relationship! Listen to people when they talk about what’s going on in their lives, even if it’s not directly relatable for you. While sharing joy and laughter is obviously wonderful, a key aspect of friendship is bearing burdens together, and having people to turn to when life gets tough.

Another challenging part about being an adult has been that people inevitably move, and friends you grew up with suddenly aren’t around anymore. When I moved to Los Angeles, I left behind friends from college and my childhood group of friends that I’ve known for years and years, and that was incredibly difficult. But making the effort to stay in touch with people, even if you can’t physically see them all the time or even talk consistently, is worth it in the long run. My group of friends and I have a group message that we have all been a part of for years, and even if we aren’t always texting in it nonstop, having the outlet to talk whenever we all have time, or to share funny stories and special moments, has helped keep our relationships going strong. FaceTime is another amazing piece of technology that has been so invaluable; being able to see each other’s faces and convey tone and meaning through talking to one another helps to rid of any miscommunication. Set FaceTime dates or call your friends every once in a while, or even send voice messages; it’s so good to hear other people’s voices!

Any type of relationship in life require maintenance and work! It's so worth it to maintain your friendships, because those are the ones that carry you through the highest of the highs and lowest of lows. Share advice you have for keeping your friendships healthy and strong :)

hi, I'm Michel

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    © Michel Janse Smith