Why is it so hard to maintain friendships as we get older? What used to be as simple as trading our snacks at recess has become a complicated schedule of events and group messages.
Typically, all your friends went to the same school or lived in the same neighborhood. Once school lets out, these friends scatter across the country and the globe. No longer are the days of running into everyone you know while going to get a cup of coffee or going to the campus library. Everyone has schedules that require them to be places, and these places are no longer just different places on campus. Offices expect us to be show up every day, and convenience often trumps social interest.
Distance makes it harder to spend quality time with friends. But the modern delights ofFacebook and group messages makes keeping in touch easier than ever. But this type of communication hardly replaces the real thing. Traveling to visit friends is the best way to overcome this barrier in maintaining friendships. Try to make it to the next wedding, baby shower, or event. Getting in quality facetime is a key ingredient to maintaining friendships as adults.
Starting families and becoming parents presents another barrier in maintaining adult friendships. Where before we could drop everything to hang out with our friends, things become a bit more time consuming with a child in the mix. For parents, this can be quite frustrating, because not all your friends are willing to compromise to your family’s schedule. And for non-parents, this too can be frustrating, since your friends are no longer available like they used to be.
Open communication and mutual respect is the best way to overcome this barrier. Both parents and non-parents have busy schedules with stuff going on. Try to schedule quality time for each other that works for both parties. Be open to including the children and families in your plans, but also be open to calling the baby sitter.
Likewise, the relationship between couples and non-couples is a slippery slope for maintaining adult friendships. When you’re a couple, you usually have friends that are couples. But when one breaks up, you often have to choose sides or feel in the middle of things. Plus, the room for gossiping is tenfold. Be impartial and quiet when there is tension from a breakup. Make time for both parties, try not to choose sides, let them vent but don’t feed into it. And no matter how tempting it is, don’t gossip. It never turns out well.
Your friends will most likely enter new relationships, and the conversion from non-couple to couple will inevitably take place. Don’t guilt trip your friends for starting a relationship and having less time for you. Communicate openly about how you feel, and set aside time for you to spend time together individually. Suggest that you do something just the two of you, without the partner, so you can get some quality time in.
The hardest part about maintaining adult friendships seems to be honest communication about expectations. Talk to your friends about how you feel if you don’t think you see them enough. Try giving an old fashion telephone call rather than the Facebook message. Sometimes it can be just as simple as hearing each other laugh to make up for the distance.