A friendship not fitting quite as snuggly as it used to? You don’t have to give up on it. Here’s how to work through the changes.

Getting older is always tough, but nothing about adult life seems quite as harsh as losing friendships. Even if you were once closer with someone than you’ve ever been with another person, that relationship can dissolve within a matter of years – sometimes even months. Usually, it happens because you end up on different life paths.

As I settle into my late 20s, I’m starting to realize just how difficult it can be to stay connected with a friend whose life is completely divergent from my own. As I’ve learned from talking to older friends and family, those rifts only continue to grow wider if you let them. The key, I’ve found, is to be proactive in preserving the relationship.

If you feel yourself growing apart from a friend whose life has become very different from your own, here are some things you can do to bridge the gap.

Understand their decisions.

Many of my closest friends are on a different path than I am. They dream of kids, a house in the suburbs and a minivan to go with it. Even though I don’t want any of those things, I still need to support their decisions.

I might look at a house in the suburbs with disdain, but I have to consider it from their point of view. Those neighborhoods usually have better school districts, and more space available for less money. If I’ve learned one thing from having older friends with kids, good schools are everything when you have children.

Friends only start to drift apart when one or both parties stop trying to understand the other. If my friend can make an effort to understand why I don’t want kids, then I should try to appreciate why she does.

Keep Your opinions to yourself.

I’m a very opinionated and judgmental person. I always think I’m right, but lately I’ve learned that’s not the most endearing quality to my friends.

When you’re on a different life path from your friends, you have to keep some opinions to yourself. I don’t agree with being a stay-at-home mom, but I won’t tell my friends not to do that. I don’t agree with spending lots of money on a new car, but I won’t shame a friend for splurging on a new Lexus.

Even if your friend is doing something objectively bad, like having an affair or running up their credit card bill, you can’t tell them what to do. You’re not responsible for their decisions and you won’t have to personally deal with the aftermath, so let it go.

Create new memories.

I had an intensely close group of girlfriends in college. We lived in the same dorm our freshman and sophomore years and continued to hang out our junior and senior years.

After graduation, we all moved away. We’d see each other at Christmas and text occasionally, but we weren’t as close as when we were 18. I knew we missed each other, and one day I got the idea that we should all go on a trip. Thankfully, they all agreed and we planned a vacation to Asheville, North Carolina.

The trip was amazing. While we spent a large portion of the time reminiscing about our college days, we created new memories in the process. I’ll never forget the hours we spent playing Taboo or watching for license plates from faraway states while driving. Even though we’ve known each other for a decade, my friends and I shared stories we had never heard before.

Now we text each other every few days, updating the others about our job interviews, our house searches and our boy troubles. Even though we’re all on different paths and live hundreds of miles apart, our friendships feel as strong as they were when lived in the same dorm.

Don’t let jealousy get in the way.

Recently, I asked my parents how they’ve managed to stay friends with people who earn more than they do. Don’t they get jealous of what their friends can afford to do? Isn’t it awkward if someone shows up to a party in a new Mercedes while they’re driving a Toyota?

But my parents are wise. They never feel envious of a friend whose life is going really well. “You’re always doing better or worse than someone you know, so just be grateful for what you do have.”

As my friends and I get older, I’m sure salary discrepancies will come up more than once. As I’ve observed from my parent’s example, money only becomes a factor if you let it. Yes, some of my friends will drive nicer cars or have bigger houses – but I can’t let my jealousy divide us. Neither should you.

The same is true if you’re single and all your friends are married, or if you can’t have kids but all your friends are moms. Yes, it’s easy to feel envious looking at Instagram photos, but harboring those feelings will make it harder to remember why you’re friends in the first place.

Do you have tips for maintaining diverging friendships? Let us know over in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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Is there really hope in the friend zone?

You feel something. They don’t. You want something. They don’t. You try, you show up, you’re available, and they say, “Let’s just be friends.” Ugh!

The “friend zone” has thwarted many a would-be lover.

The friend zone can become the danger-zone if it’s not treated with caution. For the would-be lover, every glance, slightest nicety, and hint of attraction (valid or otherwise) are always seen as prospects for a hopeful future.

All too often, unfortunately, such hopes are dashed and hearts crushed when the would-be lover’s prospect finds prospects elsewhere.

Five areas within the friend zone can make it the danger-zone.

Proceed with caution.

Friends in the friend zone aren’t friends with benefits.

One of the benefits of being single for many is the opportunity to mingle sexually. In today’s more sexually open culture, people choose to be single for longer and enjoy the benefits of having friends with benefits.

Two adults who don’t want a relationship but are sexually active can be a match made in heaven. That is, as long as both sexual partners stay on the same relationships/sexual plain. For someone stuck against their will in the friend zone, a night of benefits can be too confusing to let the friendship last.

Don’t merge the friend zone with benefits.

Friends in the friend zone don’t expect a free dinner.

We’re still ironing out gender norms. For that reason, deciding who pays for what is a little more confusing today than it used to be.

To each their own, of course, but it’s not fair to expect a would-be lover stuck in the friend zone to pay for nights. The occasional treat may be okay, but when it starts to feel like a relationship, act like a relationship, and look like a relationship, then the friend zone is disrupted. It becomes a one-sided relationship.

Friends in the friend zone should be sure to keep the friendship equitable to not confuse the would-be lover. You need to pay as much as you let the other person pay.

Friends in the friend zone aren’t rebounds.

Having a would-be lover in the friend zone is nice. It boosts confidence and can fuel the ego. It’s a safe space. It can also feel like a place of refuge when your relationship with your significant other goes south. When one relationship repels you, you’re often attracted to the relationship of least resistance.

Unfortunately, a one-night stand for you can confuse for a friend stuck in the friend zone. Therefore, find your rebounds and one-night stands in other zones. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself with more than one strained relationship and make repairing either too hard.

Friends in the friend zone don’t replace partners.

Having the advantage of a friendship doesn’t mean you can take advantage of your friends, especially those in the friend zone.

If you start to feel like your friend in the friend zone is becoming your go-to friend, a BFF of sorts, they may start to interpret your friendship as more — or begin to resent whatever relationship there is.

When one person wants more than another, lines can become easily blurred. It’s up to the one who established the lines not to cross them.

Friends in the friend zone aren’t like other friends.

Friends in the friend zone are special friends who can quickly be taken advantage of and feel taken advantage of by the would-be love. We all have who would bury a body for us if we needed and who wouldn’t expect anything in return – well, except maybe a good bottle of whiskey.

Friends in the friend zone aren’t that kind of friend because they may feel deserving of more than a bottle of whiskey.

Should they expect anything in return for small favors? No, but people in the friend zone can easily see what’s not there because they want to see what they want to see.

Every relationship and every kind of relationship has its own boundaries. Staying within those boundaries, especially when you’re put contrary to your desires, can be hard. When you’re the one who sets those boundaries, it’s important to not cross them.

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Friendships are work. Just because you’re adulting hard doesn’t mean you have to let them slip away.

When you’re going through high school and college, the idea of drifting apart from your closest friends seems impossible. When you share a bond so strong, how could living in different cities or working opposite schedules get in the way?

Flash forward to your mid-20s, and you haven’t talked to any of them in months. Maybe you don’t even have their numbers.

After I graduated college, I learned the hard way that friendship is like a garden – if you don’t water it consistently, the vines will wither and die. Busy with work and high on my new career, I gradually started losing contact with the people who once meant the most to me. I assumed it would be easy to make new friendships, just like it was in college – how wrong I was.

Thankfully, I was able to turn things around before I lost my friends completely, but others aren’t so lucky. There are twenty-somethings all over the country pining for their old buddies, wondering where it all went wrong. If you don’t want to become one of them, read ahead to find out how.

Create a schedule.

My friend Leslie told me about how she would go weeks without talking to her sister, and how sad it made her. Every time she’d call, her sister would be busy and vice versa. Sick of playing phone tag, they created a schedule where every Sunday at 2 p.m., they call each other and catch up on an episode of their favorite show, usually “Pretty Little Liars” or “Chopped.”

Leslie said that since they created a schedule, they haven’t missed a phone call unless one of them has been on vacation. I love the idea of creating a regular phone date at the same time every month.

For this system to work, each person has to promise to be available during the agreed time and not cancel when life gets busy. You can’t flake out just because you’re tired or your boyfriend really wants to watch a movie – once you miss an appointment for flimsy reasons, it’s going to be easier to skip out from that point on.

Keep it simple.

A couple weeks ago, my college friends and I took a four-day trip to Asheville, North Carolina. We stayed in a rustic cabin outside of town and planned to spend our time kayaking, paddleboarding and hiking – almost none of which we actually did.

Why? We spent most of the time talking to each other, drinking homemade cocktails and staying up late playing Taboo. I had as much fun with them singing along to the Spice Girls in the car as I did exploring downtown Asheville.

If you’re struggling to make time for your friends, you might be overthinking it. Don’t try to plan an amazing Friday night, ask them over to watch “30 Rock” or play a board game instead. You don’t have to plan a dinner party or make reservations at the newest bar to have a good time.

Run errands together.

When I still lived in the same city as one of my best friends, we would often do the most mundane tasks together, like go grocery shopping or return clothes we’d bought online.

It’s not that we didn’t want to do something more exciting, but I was very frugal at the time and didn’t have extra money to spend on movies, concerts or going out. Instead, we’d go to Costco, get a hot dog for $1 and then buy whatever was on our list. Even though we were spending our Saturdays at a warehouse club, we still had fun.

If you’re pressed for time, don’t choose between your friends and your responsibilities. Combine them instead. Who knows, your friend might also need to buy moisturizer at Sephora or a new blazer at the mall.

You can even do this if you’re on a call with someone. For example, I love talking on the phone while I’m out walking the dogs or cleaning up around the house. It doesn’t take any extra mental capacity, and I’m not shirking my responsibilities.

That’s why I would always call my mom when I was driving home from work. I didn’t have anything else I needed to do at the same time, and it always made me feel better.

Take advantage of technology.

My best friends and I are separated by multiple states and we only see each other a couple times a year. To bridge the gap, I try to send them articles I think they’ll like or comment on their Facebook photos. Technology makes it so easy to stay in touch, especially if you’re far away.

Since I’ve started texting my friends more, I’ve felt more connected to a part of my life that ended when I graduated from college. I feel happier when I get a text from a friend, even if it’s as simple as an inside joke or a recommendation for acne cleanser.

Send snail mail.

You can also send letters and cards for birthdays and random events. It’s cheap, but it’s so fun to get real mail from your friends.

What are some of the ways you make time for friends? Have you adjusted relationships due to distance or schedules? Tell us about it over at the #Adulting Facebook community.

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Feeling like a stranger in a strange land? It can be hard to start over in a new city. But part of the fun is making new connections and finding a new crew.

When my husband and I moved from Indianapolis to Denver a couple years ago, I left behind a solid core of friends that made up the bulk of my social life. I was sad to leave them, but confident I could do the same thing I’d done when changing schools as a child or moving out of state for college – maintain my old friendships and start some new ones.

While I had no problems staying in touch with my friends from Indiana, making new relationships was so much harder than I ever expected. Not only did I lack any kind of social base to start from, but I had just left an office job to start my career as a freelance writer. You don’t realize how important the workplace can be as a social tool until your only office mates are a husband and two dogs.

It took some time, but eventually, I was able to meet some great people and form lasting friendships. Here are some of the methods I tried, and how well they might work for you.

MeetUp.

MeetUp is one of the best tools to find new friends with similar interests, and almost every major city has an active MeetUp community.

MeetUp is a haven for groups based on every kind of interest imaginable. I’ve joined book clubs, art journal groups and card-game nights. Many of these have hundreds of members, so don’t expect to see the same faces every time. But if you attend the same event frequently enough, you’re bound to make some connections that stick.

Go to two or three events before you decide you don’t like a group. It can take time to get out of your comfort zone and feel at ease around total strangers, but since most MeetUp groups are based on a specific activity you’ll always have something in common.

Make sure to look at the age range of the groups you’re interested in. I once joined a movie MeetUp without realizing I was the youngest person there. I went a couple times, but ultimately decided I couldn’t make close friendships with people close to my parent’s age.

Bumble.

This tip is only for the ladies. The dating app, Bumble has a feature where women can look for other women to be friends with. When you download the app, choose the BFF setting when prompted. You’ll only see profiles of other women who want to find a new shopping buddy or movie companion.

Bumble starts by showing you a series of photos. Like many dating apps, you swipe right on the prospects you like and left on the ones you don’t. At first, I swiped right on almost everyone, but I quickly realized I wanted to be more selective.

Almost half of the girls I saw said they loved drinking wine and going to brunch – but doesn’t everyone? I decided to swipe left on anyone who had such a generic profile. I swiped right on girls who said they loved comic books, playing with their dog or reading detective novels. I wasn’t trying to be judgemental, but it’s easier to make a connection when you have something in common.

I met a couple cool girls through the app, but staying in touch on a long-term basis proved harder. That’s not an indictment of the service, but you’ll need to invest some time and energy into the app if you want it to pay off long term.

Volunteer.

When you’re in a new city, it can be hard to get the lay of the land. What events are cool? Which museums are worth going to? Where can you find the best ice cream?

Volunteering for local events is one way to have fun, explore, and make friends in a new city in the process. Most volunteer spots last several hours, so you’ll have time to chat and get to know people. Plus, you often get free swag or privileged access.

If you hear about a local event that sounds interesting, but you don’t want to go alone, contact the organizers to see if they need volunteers.

Sports leagues.

Joining a local bowling league is the best way I’ve made friends in Denver. We played one game a week for six weeks, meeting at the same time and place consistently. Having a regular time to hang out proved to be the key to making a new group of friends. When you sporadically attend functions, you don’t get the consistency that’s required to solidify new friendships. Seeing the same people once a week made it easier to develop actual relationships.

We started planning other activities together pretty quickly, like going to the movies, attending musicals and going on short hikes. Eventually we started watching “Game of Thrones” together every Sunday and later transitioned into a weekly trivia group when our bowling season ended.

Every city has local sports leagues you can join and participate in. Most people won’t care if you’re unathletic, as long as you have a positive attitude and a cursory knowledge of the sport. Often, groups go out afterward for drinks or dinner, giving you another opportunity to establish roots.

Moving to a new city is the perfect chance to find new friends and reinvent your life with people who you can enjoy time with.

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Don’t believe the hype. You really can be friends with members of the opposite sex. You just need to see other people as, you know, people.

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Is it really possible to be friends with the opposite sex?

Believe it or not, we think it is. Otherwise, how would our relationship work for this podcast?

In this week’s episode, we look at society’s expectations for our friendships based on gender stereotypes. We also tackle the issue of being attracted to your opposite-sex friends.

 

Concepts

  • A look at the differences in how men and women see their opposite-sex friends.
  • Changing perspectives on being friends with the opposite sex.
  • Gender as a social construct and not a binary.
  • How to focus less on biology and more on human connections.
  • Tips for managing being friends with the opposite sex and your S.O.
  • Moving on after you acknowledge (at least to yourself) that there is some level of attraction.
  • What it’s like to have a bestie of the opposite sex.

It’s a little awkward with the Do Nows this week. Do you really need to go on a quest to be friends with the opposite sex? Does it really matter. We encourage you to look at your list of friends and see if there are some experiences and people you want to connect with. No matter who you connect with, consider joining a local organization where you can meet new people.

This week’s listener question tackles the issue of trying to explain to your parents that you just aren’t interested in your opposite-sex bestie.

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Resources

Opposite-sex besties.

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Want to keep it tight with your crew? It takes effort. But it’s totally worth it.

Developing good relationships is the primary reason we’re on earth.

Human contact is essential for both your mental and physical health. In fact, studies show that those with strong emotional ties are healthier and live longer than those without.

But building those bonds takes time and effort. Even if you consider yourself a good person, it can be hard to maintain relationships, especially as work and other commitments take more of your time.

As you build your squad, here’s how you can develop relationships meant to last:

Learn to listen.

You probably already think of yourself as a decent listener.

But consider this: Do you actually listen when your friend is or partner is talking? Or do you think of what you’re going to say in response? Do you really hear them? Or are you judging what they’re saying?

Hearing is easy, but listening is hard.

It’s hard to listen mindfully, without wondering how long it’ll be before you can say something. But listening is vital to developing a good relationship, no matter if it’s with a boss or the cashier at your favorite donut shop.

“I don’t necessarily have to agree with what’s being said, but acknowledgment goes a long way towards building those important relationships,” said Elle Martinez, author of Jumpstart Your Marriage & Your Money.

Listening is like meditation. It requires focusing on one singular object and bringing your mind back to that focus when it starts to drift. It’s one of the hardest skills to master, especially if you’ve spent most of your life half-heartedly paying attention to your friends.

Stay in touch.

How many relationships lose traction because one of you fails to keep in touch? Keeping track of people is hard, but it’s made so much easier now with the advent of Facebook and other forms of social media.

Try to stay in touch, even if it’s as simple as sending a text or message saying you’re thinking of them and hope they’re doing well. I even created a recurring calendar reminder to call my grandmother. I always forget to call her, so I set it for a time when I know I’ll be free. I also keep a stack of blank greeting cards handy so I can send close friends and family personal cards when it’s their birthday.

It takes little time to send them out, but means the world to get a hand-written note in the mail. Relationships are like cars. They need regular tuneups to function or they’ll die.

Bring up problems early.

I have a theory: the best friends I have are the ones I’ve had some sort of disagreement with. If I’m willing to bring up a difficult subject with you, it means we’re good friends.

But it’s never easy to bring up something with a close friend. I hate confrontation, and most people agree with me. Fortunately, every time I’ve brought something up, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the other person. It’s always led to a closer relationship, and I’ve never regretted it.

I usually feel uncomfortable doing this in person or over the phone, so I try to write it out. I can take my time writing out my grievances and I know that I won’t say something hastily I’ll regret later. Plus, then the other person has the option to respond in print or in person.

When you have a problem you want to discuss, try bringing it up with a neutral party first. A third-person can provide a different perspective and tell you if you’re actually in the wrong. I usually discuss friend issues with my husband first, since he can tell me if I’m being unreasonable.

Give feedback.

What most people are looking for is acknowledgment in this world. That’s why many of us seek validation through likes and hearts on social media.

Give that to your loved ones by commenting on their recent career news or by supporting their side business. Odd as it sounds, developing good relationships in today’s world includes participating on social media with them.

If your friend just started dating someone new, text her a few weeks in to ask her how it’s going. She’ll love to hear that you care about her relationship. Bring it up if you see her in person. One of the characteristics that differentiates a strong relationship from a weak one is if you bring up things that are important to your friend before they have to. That shows real commitment and dedication.

Every interaction you have, try to mention or ask something that the other person cares about. They’ll be delighted that you remember and care so much.

Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Make your people feel good and they’ll never forget it.

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Liking your BFF’s post on Facebook isn’t the same thing as sitting down and talking to them. Get out there and connect with the people in your life.

Sometimes it feels like there is not enough time in the day to manage your own life. Let alone dealing with maintaining healthy friendships.

Scroll through your Facebook and look at your real life friends. You know the ones who held your hair back after you drank too much after the last break up. Just Facebooking those friends on occasion with a Like or a comment is not enough to keep those ties strong.

In super-connnected, cyber life that we lead, it has become easier and easier to slip into habits that change a deep and long-standing friendship into something that’s a bit superficial and hashtagable.
For those of us who take adulting seriously, we understand the importance of maintaining and nurturing the people in our life even though life often feels like it’s conspiring to keep friends apart. It’s important to remain close to friends as you move through life.

If you’re trying to figure out how to get your friendships back on track here are some simple and effective strategies that re-ignite a waning friendship:

Prioritize your friendships.

This feels so obvious, but prioritizing your friendships will create a willingness to put in the work needed to maintain the most important relationships in your life.

I wish that I could tell you that good friendships are easy to nurture, but they’re not. Friends get married, kids arrive, people get dogs, go into debt. Basically, life freaking happens and throws a metaphorical wrench into every relationship that you’re in.

As an adult not only do you have to prioritize the relationships that you’re in, you also have to figure out what “season” your friendship is in.

Sometimes you’re at the end of a wonderful friendship and it’s time to let go of that person and move on. There are other moments in a friendship when you may end up taking a break for a while but are able to reconnect later on with very little effort. Recognizing the stage that your friendship is currently in will help you to prioritize which friendships you should really be focusing on.

It can help you remain close to friends that match where you’re at right now.

Plan friend dates.

This may sound weird, but plan friend dates.

Sometimes friends get into habits that doom their friendship. If you’re always doing the same things, switch it up.

Instead of happy hour, participate in a Graffiti Run, compete against one another on opposing trivia teams, go to a corn maze, or check out your town in a way that is different from what you usually do when you hang out together. Remember, variety is the spice of life (and friendships too).

You might be surprised at how these dates can help you remain close to friends that matter most. It’s all about making time for the important people in your life.

Travel with friends.

Travel together or visit another if your friends live far from you.

My best friend, who basically is my sister from another mister, is English. She lives in London, is married and has kids. This friendship is a priority to both of us, but the reality is that our realities have changed and we live far away from one another.

Because of this, we prioritize visiting one another either in the States or in Europe. We’ve traveled together numerous times throughout the years and many of out trips resemble The Hangover movies. Even though she has kids.

When you travel with friends, the roles that exist in your “real” lives cease to exist. How can they when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere and freaked out about the locals who have decided to help you out?

Create new memories with your friends that are special and specific to experiences that only you’ve experienced together (like a trip).

What happens when you have kids?

I love kids, but many people aren’t excited about them. Figuring out how to remain close to friends after they start having mini-humans is one of the big challenges of life.

When your friends begin having kids that may signal a huge change in how you interact.

After living in Europe, I have a very different view on interacting with friends with kids. Kids are always welcome. I make it clear to my friends that I’m flexible (because one day I will have kids too) and what I’ve found is that by being flexible I’m able to see my friends more.

I’ve also noticed that many of these friends suggest kids free events because they aren’t just parents. They’re people, too, and sometimes they need a break.

Be up front with your friends.

Finally, be clear about what you want from your friends.

Communicate what you expect from people in your life. They’re not mind-readers.  If you’re not clear about what you want from your friends, you’re setting yourself (and them) up for failure. If you’re fine seeing someone every once in awhile because you have work, kids, a spouse and extended family, go ahead and own it.

If you’re the type of person who needs a lot more one on one time with friends create opportunities to connect that are easy wins for everyone. Have realistic expectations of how the friendship should flow and remember to be kind with one another.

In an increasingly cyber world, it’s becoming obvious that it’s important to deepen our “in real life” friendships.

There’s no substitute for the real thing.

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Your friend’s politics are getting on your nerves. You need to figure out how to fix this without destroying the friendship.

When it comes to friendships, diversity makes all the difference.

It’s important to have things in common, but most solid relationships are built upon a foundation of complementary contrasts.

But as possible as it is for Yankees and Red Sox fans to be friends, some differences are harder to reconcile. When a friend or loved one holds an opinion that suggests a fundamentally different view of the world from your own, it can be painful and confusing.

You guessed it: I’m talking about politics.

Political views don’t define a person, but it’s easy to think that way in the wake of a challenging and polarizing political season.

Once you develop a negative opinion of someone based on their politics, it’s no easy task to scrub that feeling away – even if it’s an old friendship with lots of great memories.

If you want to preserve a healthy friendship or save a sinking one, here are some tips for when your politics and your friend’s politics just don’t match.

If you want to stay quiet.

During this past election, I was shocked at how differently some of my friends felt about who should be president.

I was so disappointed to think that someone I trust and care about could have such a fundamentally different view of the world. Sometimes loitered around Twitter and Facebook pages to see what they were posting, even when I didn’t plan on writing a response. I just wanted to follow my friends’ political discussions.

Eventually, I realized that if I wasn’t going to disagree with them publicly, it was pathetic to resentfully stalk their accounts. What I’d find would only disappoint and anger me. It can be so addicting to read comments and posts from people you disagree with, but unless you want to speak up it will only hurt your friendship.

If you believe that friendship and politics don’t mix, here are some strategies on staying sane for the next four years:

  • Block them on social media. Unless you see someone regularly, social media is the best way to stay in touch with them. It’s also the easiest way to find reasons to hate them. Unfollowing them on Facebook or Twitter can make it easier to maintain the friendship, especially if they’re particularly vocal about politics.
  • Install a browser extension. People began complaining about too much political content on social media during the presidential election. Now, developers have responded with browser extensions that scrub your news feeds of anything political. They’re not foolproof, but they can minimize how many political posts you see.
  • Talk to them personally. Asking your friend not to mention politics via text, email or social media is hard, but asking them in person is much easier. Tone is misunderstood less often when people are face to face or on the phone with each other.

If you want to speak up.

Of course, not all of us can or even want to stay quiet. Maybe you feel passionately about an issue. Whether you are disagreeing with your parents, other relatives, or friends, it’s important to be careful as you move forward.

Here are some suggestions on how to disagree with a friend’s politics without offending or upsetting them:

  • Seek to understand, not convince. Author Jason Vitug of You Only Live Once said in the last year he’s been surprised at how many loved ones he disagrees with on politics. Instead of ignoring what they say or arguing with them, Vitug tries to understand how they came to that conclusion and asks them why they believe what they do. Doing so has made him more compassionate and less dismissive. “I’ve learned for the most part that all of us want the best, but how we get there will differ,” Vitug said.
  • Find common ground. The differences between your mother-in-law’s politics and your own can seem like an irreparable gulf. Instead of focusing on what you disagree with, find opinions you have in common. The less you see someone as an enemy, the easier it will be to stay friends.
  • Learn their stories. Like Vitug, writer Julie Rains of Investing to Thrive said she asks people their reasons for holding a certain opinion. She often finds that their background informs their opinions more than she realized. She said it makes it easier to see their point of view after finding out what their stories are.
  • Avoid name-calling. Disagreeing about your friend’s politics is like arguing about any other topic. Once you start name-calling, a friendly disagreement can quickly turn ugly. No matter how heated the discussion gets, try to keep your cool. The more respectful you are, the better the chance for your message to get through – and for your friendship to survive.
  • Send a private message. Disagreeing on social media can turn sour quickly, especially when emotions are inflamed. The public nature of the medium can make that worse, allowing for strong opinions to pile up and aggravate everyone involved. If you’re tired of fuming quietly, consider reaching out to your friend privately. You’ll be able to work out your differences on a more personal level, rather than duking it out in front of all your followers.

It’s been a bruising political season, and things aren’t getting any easier for many of us. We need to view our friends’ politics like adults, and work to keep conversations civil.

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The holidays are different for adults than they are for kids. You can still have a great season, but cut the holiday hijinks.

This episode originally aired on November 26, 2015.

As a kid, the holidays are a time of fun. After all, you get presents, candy, and time off school. Holiday hijinks are a part of growing up.

Adults, though, need to learn how to change their view of the holidays. The things that were funny when you’re a kid are no longer in force. Plus no one thinks it’s fun to buy you presents anymore.

You can still enjoy the holiday season as an adult, but you do need to adjust your expectations.

Use our Do Nows to help you evaluate what you want out of the holidays, as well as learn strategies for putting together a budget-friendly gift exchange.

Concepts

  • Just because we’re asked to find the child within during the holidays doesn’t mean you should act like a child.
  • What are some of the holiday hijinks you should avoid as an adult?
  • What are some of the things adults are expected to do during the holidays?
  • How to handle gift exchanges with family and with coworkers.
  • Why it’s important to determine what the holidays mean to you so you can set boundaries.

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Transcript

HARLAN – – Intro

MIRANDA – -Welcome to this week’s edition of Adulting. We’re going to talk about holiday hijinks. When is it time to stop acting like a kid for the holidays?

HARLAN – – Intro

HARLAN – – Welcome to adulating. I am Harlan Landes, and I’m here with Miranda Marquit. Hi, Miranda.

MIRANDA – Hi Harlan

HARLAN – – And today we’re talking about holiday hijinks.

Accept that you’re not a kid anymore. We all want to be a kid at heart, sure. But certain things happen around the holiday that tells us that maybe that it’s time to move on and it’s time now to be an adult. The biggest thing is, of course, gift giving.

So let’s talk about that. Miranda, do you have a story to share that moment that you first realized you’re an adult?

MIRANDA – -Or at least not a child anymore. Growing up of course as someone who celebrates Christmas, we always had that list that we could make, and even when we were beyond Santa Claus, in my family, we could still make a list. My parents said this is the budget, and then you could go ahead and move forward, and make this list. So when I came back, from college, my first semester, I said to my parents, here is my list, this is what I want for Christmas. This is my list, and it’s like one thing, and it’s expensive. I was surprised that my parents said, ‘You’re not a kid anymore, you don’t get to make a Christmas list, we’ll give you whatever we’re giving you!’

It ended up being useful things for my college experience, but it wasn’t the thing that I wanted on my list. And that was the time I realized, ‘Oh I’m not a kid anymore, and I can’t just demand things anymore,’ as children do. And that this holiday, and a lot of the holiday season: Christmas, Channukah, those kinds of things, those are for the children. Parents do these things to make things fun for the children. And you reach this point where your parents and your grandparents and all the people around you are maybe thinking, ‘You’re not cute and fun anymore, we don’t care about making this nice for you,’ and you have to accept that and do it with good grace, I guess.

HARLAN – -I think some of my friends still think that they’re young and cute and that the gifts are for them. So it’s made the holidays interesting, to say the least. I think the holidays are a chance for us to enjoy and celebrate the kids inside of us that are still there. What part of being an adult is recognizing that you don’t stop being who you are inside as you grow up? I think the question is, do you express that in a way so that you expect to get gifts from your friends just like you are a child? I think that’s the biggest question.

I have a friend who is just giddy about getting gifts, and he has a daughter who supports that and loves the fact that he loves getting gifts as much as she does. Which is entertaining, sure, but does putting the pressure on everyone else to play into this idea that we have to keep having to get gifts for each other? So, the way I see this, and what other people observe in this particular circle observe, is this doesn’t make any sense; this is not what adults do. Why is this happening? And you just have to say, well, we’re humoring someone who just gets a lot of joy out of this, so we just participate in it for him. I don’t participate that much now because I don’t see my friends that much anymore. So it feels odd to me, and there are other things we can do other than getting video games for each other. We can take each other to dinner, we can enjoy our time together, we can go to the movies, we can do things like that.

I know I don’t have room for anything else, so I don’t want any gifts from people. I don’t expect people to get gifts for me, I mean, at this point I don’t have lists. My parents will still ask, because they want to continue the relationship that we’ve had, as a child. And I grew up, and they still want to do this for me, and I’ll humor them and say, ‘ If you want to do something, here’s this,’ but I don’t expect anything at this point, and I don’t want anything.

MIRANDA – – I think that’s a good point, and I think sometimes we were stuck in this idea too, where we use this season as an excuse just to act idiotic and then aim to recapture our youth. And sometimes this is going out and using this as an excuse to get drunk and act stupid; sometimes it manifests in just buying a bunch of stuff that maybe we couldn’t afford as children. I know that my ex-husband did a lot of buying – expensive, big toys. At Christmas time, when we were getting stuff for my son, a lot of the things he would get were things that he wished he could have had as a child, so it’s this weird recapturing lost childhood, rather than focusing on spending some time with friends and family. I guess it comes down to figuring out, what does the holiday season mean to you? No matter which holidays you’re celebrating, what does it mean to YOU, and what personally do you want to try and get out of it?

HARLAN – -As adults, we can make a choice, if we want to spend our money on things, we can do that — we are adults. We can do that as long as we involve all of the affected people in the discussion. If you have someone in your relationship that’s going off and spending money on things that the family doesn’t need and the money isn’t there for that, then you run into some problems. But regarding being able to buy yourself presents, if that’s something that you want to do, it’s certainly allowable, it’s just a question of, as an adult, you just have to remember that in the back of your mind that you still have to focus on the important things. What is important around the holidays? Is there something special about the month of December that makes it the right time for everyone to participate in this holiday season?

MIRANDA – -Yes, so one of the things that make December fantastic for this sort of thing is not so much how many holidays we celebrate, or how many holidays do we need to celebrate, but it’s also the idea that the days are getting shorter: it’s colder outside for many of us, especially those of us in the northern hemisphere. And in the southern hemisphere, it’s like, hey, let’s celebrate, it’s summertime! But for many of us in the northern hemisphere, it’s just cold, and you just want to do something that warms you. Physically as well as emotionally. And to me, December is great because you’ve got your first snow, it’s sparkling and pretty, it’s before it turns February, when it’s all gray and gross and mushy, and you don’t want it anymore. And there’s just something about the excitement of getting together with friends and family. One of the things that I’ve found as I get older is that I care more about the company of people I like than I care about just about anything else. (8:46:0) And I just want to be able to have company and keep company with people that I like. I want to keep company with my family; I want to be able to see my good friends.

HARLAN – -Yeah, I think that’s a great way to look at it. So is there a way to do that while still –, for a lot of people, in this generation, families are more spread out, and friends are more spread out than they ever have been before. There’re a few reasons for that. First, transportation and travel are so much easier than it’s been in any other generation. It costs less money to travel — and families can leave and go from one city to another permanently, and that hasn’t always been the case. Plus, the internet makes it easier for everybody to maintain their relationships a little bit better, regardless of the distance. So all of these things combine with the fact that there’s a lot of more traveling happening during the holiday season as people go to all lengths of the country or the continent, or the world, to be with family and friends and people that they love. So, how do you plan for this a little bit better than just spending a lot of money on travel?

MIRANDA – -Yeah, and that’s difficult too, and we’ll probably talk about this a little bit more in a later episode, but part of it is, can I afford this and is there something else that I can, in fact, do? Can I travel and make this move? I am fortunate enough this year that I get to travel to the east coast; I get to spend Christmas with my sister in Massachusetts. I’m very excited about this, and along the way, I get to stop in NYC and spend some time with some friends, right?

HARLAN – -Yeah

MIRANDA – -Are we excited about this?

HARLAN – -I’m excited about that.

(laughter)

MIRANDA – -Right, cause we’re spending some time with some friends! And I’m excited that I am fortunate enough that I can do this. And part of the reason I’m able to do this is that a few years ago I started a travel fund. I just started saying, “I want to be able to travel when I want to be able to travel.” To make this happen, every month, I just put a set amount of money into this travel fund, and then I can use it when I want to go somewhere or do something. And that’s been very helpful for me to plan ahead and know that there’s a good chance that I’m going to need to travel during the holidays and just incorporate that into my long term planning. That’s what been helpful for me. I don’t know, what’s helpful for you? Because sometimes you have to travel, your Mom lives about 3000 miles away from you!

HARLAN – -Yes, so I’m on the east coast, and my mother and my brother and his wife and other family members are out in California, so I plan to travel every year for the holidays, usually Thanksgiving. I have money set aside, and I always find a way to make it work. This is a plan — because other members of my family don’t have the same amount of flexibility that I have mostly regarding time, I’m the one who will do the traveling. And that’s fine, I mean, I’d rather go out to California in the winter, then have people over in the winter in my tiny apartment. I prefer to see lots of people in a more comfortable environment.

MIRANDA – -Right, and if you don’t have family nearby and you can’t travel to your family, and maybe your family can’t travel to you, I think that there’s a lot you can do. If it’s important that you see your family and you’re not able to do it, you can’t just make up for it, but there are things you can do rather than sit at home and be sad. Some of those things might be getting together with friends that you have, or, go to that work party and have that social interaction and also consider doing some service.

There are plenty of organizations out there that would love to have a little bit of help with their holiday situations. (13:03:08) So check your food bank, your soup kitchen, see if they’re having a community dinner, then volunteer to help with that. You’ll have that feeling of service. Studies show that serving others helps you feel good and warm and fuzzy inside and is good for your health, good for your mental state, and can also help you provide some social time for yourself. So there are things you can do even if you can’t travel to family or family can’t travel to you to be involved in your community and get that feeling, that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with being with people during the holidays.

HARLAN – -One that I’ve done in that respect has been to participate in meal deliveries for seniors who can’t get to the store, often, or just have trouble getting around. My community has a meal delivery type of service that you can volunteer for so that’s something that I’ve done in the past.

One of the things that we should talk about is the various ways that adults approach the holidays. There are certain responsibilities that adults have that are different than the lack of responsibilities that you have as an adolescent or as a kid. So there are several things that we need to think about as we approach the holiday season. While we might not do gifts with our friends so much anymore, if at all, when you’re living an adult life certain people provide services to you that perhaps you should get into the habit of tipping for the holidays or providing a holiday bonus. So the question is, ok, so we know that we have to provide — society dictates that it’s the expectation that we provide a bonus for certain people who help us out in life. It all depends on the people you have around you. I have a maid who comes in once or twice a month to just help keep my apt in decent and presentable shape, which, without her, I probably would not be able to invite people over to my apartment. This is a service that I get, and so as part of the unwritten rule or the unwritten contract, it’s just expected that when the holidays come around, I PAY a little more. This indicates the value and appreciation of the work that this individual or this company has put in over the course of a year. There are some other things that I can think of, but Miranda, who else would you tip at that holiday? (15:46.8)

MIRANDA – -Yes, well I don’t want to go WAY in deep with this issue because of course, we’ll be talking about it a little bit later, in another episode, but yes, I think what you said pretty much nails it. It’s people who provide you with regular services that you see on a regular basis. So I will — the girl that does my nails, I go and have my nails done a couple of times a month, she is somebody that I’m going to tip. If you regularly have packages sent out or you have a regular package delivery service, that’s somebody you tip. I usually tip the guy that brings my milk every week, because I have a standing milk order with the dairy. They bring my milk, eggs and bread every week, and so that’s somebody who provides me with a regular service, and I see them regularly, and that’s somebody you would tip. So basically anybody in your life who regularly provides you with a service and most of the time it’s service that doesn’t pay very well – those are good people to go ahead and tip.

HARLAN – -OK. And like you said, we’ll be talking more about that in the future. So another thing, we talked a little bit about is gifts for your friends. How do you handle gifts for your friend’s children?

I know that for me, if a friend of mine is having a get together for the holidays and I know that children will be there, then it seems to be appropriate at that time to get gifts for these children. Now unless I see these children very often throughout the year or I was to babysit them, then I don’t feel its my responsibility to get them a gift. But If I were to see something the child might especially like or is fitting, or if I frequently talk with the parents, and they’ve expressed that there’s something that perhaps only I can do, then yes, I would buy something for the child, but otherwise, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for me.

MIRANDA – -Yeah, and I’m there with you. I don’t get gifts for any of my friend’s children. And a lot of the time, as far as my friends go, we usually don’t exchange gifts. Just because with most of my friends it’s more about the company for one thing, and second of all, most of the friends I have don’t need anything I can get them. As far as friends’ kids go, there’s not usually a call for it.

HARLAN – -So you and I both don’t work in an office, but I have worked in an office, and every year, it’s a social event. Everyone who works on a team will get together, and we’ll do some gift exchange. Usually, it’s one of those blind exchanges where you don’t know who you’re getting the gift for, you wrap it, then add it to the exchange.

At the holiday party, you pick out a wrapped gift and unwrap it. Once it’s unwrapped other people can steal it from you, and there’s a whole game around this. Or you do a secret Santa type of exchange where you have somebody’s name, and you buy a gift specifically for that person based on their suggestions.

So there’s always these different office gift exchanges. The issue that I have with them is that it puts a lot of pressure on people to participate, and not everybody might be in the same financial situation.

These present exchanges are usually never officially company events — it’s usually just a small group of people, and they set the rules: let’s put a $15 limit on things, that way everybody doesn’t feel the pressure be extravagant. But then, of course, I remember an episode of The Office, on television, where there’s this price limit on their gift exchange was $15 or so, and the boss went out and bought something that was about 30 times the value — I think it was an IPod or something.

Obviously, he made everybody feel pretty bad because there was this gift limit of $15 and then someone goes off and gets someone this very expensive gift that made everybody uncomfortable. (20:27.2) So you’ve got the pressure on the one hand of participating, and you have your budget AND the office’s pre-set budget that you have to stick to. If you don’t have the money to spend, that makes it awkward and difficult.

At the same time, when you work in an office, there’s a socialization aspect that’s pretty important too, you do have to try to fit in with the culture, and sometimes that means doing something you don’t particularly like to do. I remember this specifically, because when the lottery would get to a certain amount of money, suddenly everyone in the office wants to pool, a couple of dollars together from everybody and play the lottery. Playing the lottery is not something I wold ever do on my own. I know it’s a waste of money, but all it takes is $2 anda little effort. The bonding that you get from the environment that you work within can be worth that $2. At least that’s the way I see it.

So I see the gift exchange in the office as something you have to try to fit into what you do, not just because you don’t want to be ostracized or outcast within the environment that’s relatively important, but because these are the people you spend a lot of time with every day. The bonding experience can be important and worthwhile. (2.00.1)

MIRANDA – -And if a gift exchange or something is not something you’re fond of, and you can manage to get yourself on some holiday planning party or something. You can suggest that instead of having a gift exchange or a big party, maybe as an office on the designated day have a small celebration and then maybe go volunteer at the soup kitchen or have a food drive and take the money to the food bank. There are ways to suggest alternative activities if you don’t like the idea of the gift exchange if it makes you uncomfortable. If you can say ‘hey, let’s do something different this year’ and approach it from there, it may not work, but at least it’s something you can try to do to try to help encourage your office to start thinking about different ways to change this tradition.

HARLAN – -Yeah, I think just putting the idea in people’s heads is something that can have a long-term effect. It’s just being aware of what the office culture is, and understanding that sometimes you have to be a part of that culture. And put up with things that you wouldn’t normally do on your own.

MIRANDA – -Of course this is why we don’t work in offices anymore, right? (laughs)

HARLAN – -Well I mean, for me, I like people, I like having people around, but I don’t like doing work with people, I like — if there’s something I need to get done I prefer a distraction-free environment, which I can do from home. I’m happy to be around people for the social aspect.

MIRANDA – -Right, well that’s what I’m saying, do your work at home and then socialize later.

So what then are some other suggestions for maybe turning it away from the holidays being materialistic? There has been a push in recent years to kind of move away from these sort of materialistic, consumer-driven holidays and move it more toward other things. So what are some things you could do to move away from this consumer-driven holiday season?

HARLAN – – Well, I think for me it involves just suggesting things do with friends and family that don’t involve gift giving and focus a little more on the time that we spend together. That could be some interesting things. That leaves a lot of things open. I do like seeing NYC in the winter. That’s something that I like doing; I like going into the City, going to see a show. Of course seeing a show is not very cheap, certainly, but it also isn’t materialistic. It’s not buying something that I’ll have at home and go to sit on my shelf; it’s going to experience something. And sharing an experience with the people that you care about is much more meaningful to me. I value sharing an experience, whether it’s some entertainment experience as a show or play, or it’s some travel. I love to travel with friends; that’s something I’m trying to make happen. Those are the things that I try to focus on. How about you Miranda?

MIRANDA – -Yeah pretty much the same thing. I’d rather just spend time with people I love. And in fact, my son and I are moving away from presents and moving more toward having holidays where we can travel. It used to be, before the divorce, that we would make a point to make Christmas day be a day of just hanging out at home, just being together. My ex-husband, my son, and I, just hanging out at home. And that was nice, just having this relaxing day where we just hang out, and then the day after Christmas we’d go and visit family and friends or we’d have a Christmas party. But we’d have Christmas Day just relaxing and having an enjoyable day where we’d do our favorite things. And so that was always nice. But like you I’m more interested in experiences, and I’m more interested in sharing experiences with people I love, and so I’d rather just hang out. I don’t want presents; I don’t need to exchange presents, I just want to be with people I like and experience things that I enjoy. (26:38.7) Which is why we’ve got to hang out, right, while I’m in NY!

HARLAN – – Around the holidays, adults get invited to parties, other than the standard office type party. We’ve talked a little bit about the office party, but we get other invitations from friends and family too. There are a couple of expectations that go with these invitations along with what you’re expected to do if you do decide to attend. Whether you attend or not, it’s a good idea to reply to the invitation.

So the first thing is to decide if this party or event is something that you want to attend. You don’t have to participate in the event for every invitation that you receive, but consider whether you want to spend the time with these people. If you’re getting invited to the event, the chances are that you do want to spend the time with the hosts or the group. So that’s one thing to consider. The second thing is what you do when you show up, and maybe what you prepare first. You want to understand what the vibe is going to be at this event, and dress appropriately for it, if it’s a work party you probably don’t want to go in your – something that would be inappropriate for —

MIRANDA – – Sexy Santa outfit?

HARLAN – -Yeah, sexy Santa outfit, which I’ve got in the closet, and I plan on wearing – no no.

MIRANDA – – I want to know what a sexy Santa outfit is for a man. Obviously, I know what it is for a woman, but —

HARLAN – – No I have no idea (laughs). So yeah, so dressing appropriately is one thing. Whether there’s going to be a gift exchange, whether you’re going to be participating in the gift exchange, whether you bring a gift, be prepared. For parties, it’s usual to almost always bring something for the host, regardless of whether there’s a gift exchange. So just keep that in mind that you should show up to every party with something in hand.

MIRANDA – – I think just some things that are appropriate — bringing something like dessert or a bottle of wine, or a bouquet of flowers. Sometimes I would bring a poinsettia since its holiday time, and it brightens things up. Those things are nice, they’re simple, and they’re appropriate.

HARLAN – – I think that something from that list would be perfect.

One thing to think about and be aware of is that nowadays at a party you want to keep in mind that everything has the potential of being recorded. And we’ve talked about this in regards to social media before. You start acting a certain way that is embarrassing to yourself, whether you’re aware of what you’re doing or not: perhaps you had a little too much to drink. You are an adult, you’re certainly allowed to do what you want regarding alcohol, but just keep in mind that every decision has potential consequences, and some of those consequences could be embarrassing to you or if not now, to your future self. If it’s a work party you certainly don’t want to ruin the opportunity to get ahead, if that’s something that you want to do, and embarrassing yourself in front of the boss could be one of those things. Also, once it’s on the Internet, there it stays! That could have some impact on future jobs and relationships!

MIRANDA – -No making out with co-workers!

HARLAN – -No making out with co-workers! But you have to judge this by the situation because you may be working with a team where it’s expected to be a little looser than you might normally be. You could work for a company where all the employees are young, and everybody is young graphic designers, recently out of school, let’s say. Everybody’s still figuring the adult thing on their own, including the boss. Which is one situation that is different than say, working in an accounting firm where the vibe might be a little different at the office party, let’s just put it that way? And I’m just making generalizations here, but you’ve got to understand what behavior is expected and what’s not, and at the same time keep in mind that everything you do could be recorded and on the Internet and therefore permanent for the rest of the world to see at any time. So that’s just something to keep in mind. (30:46.7)

MIRANDA – – Right, and as we discussed a little bit, on our Social Media episode as well, it’s not even just something that might show up later. If someone shows up and is excited about using periscope, it could be happening in real time, and you never would know. We’re moving to a point, where, as you said, and you hate to be this person who says, well I have to be guarded no matter what I’m doing. And it’s disappointing and frustrating, but that’s the way it is.

HARLAN – – All right, let’s talk about some ‘Do Nows’ that we can offer to everybody. What should people be thinking about for the holiday season? And what do they need to do?

MIRANDA – – The very first thing you should do is take 10 to 15 minutes to sit down by yourself and re-evaluate what you want from the holiday season. Too often we get swept up in the social swirl, and we think, ‘Oh, what’s going on’ and ‘I gotta buy this, I gotta buy that, I gotta do that, I gotta have this thing.’ Take a deep breath and just take a few minutes to step back and say ‘Ok, what do I want from the holiday season and what will best help me accomplish that this year?’

You may have to do a few things you don’t want to do. We all know we have to do things we don’t want to do as adults during the holiday season, but at the same time you can take a step back, re-evaluate and at least come up with some ideas of how to get through this intact as a person.

HARLAN – – Yeah, that’s a great idea. I think that something else we can add to that is figuring out what the parameters are for a gift exchange among whatever group you want to deal with, whether it’s your friends, whether it’s your family, whether it’s your co-workers. Just set some ground rules, like a budget, and make sure everybody sticks to it. Figure out whether you’re getting gifts for everybody or whether you’re doing a gift exchange where one person gets a gift for another person, so everybody still gets a gift. This way you don’t have to go out and spend hundreds of dollars because you’re getting gifts for everybody — at the same time you’re not receiving multiple gifts and you’re not going to be left with things that will just sit around your house.

MIRANDA – – Right, it’s uncomfortable for us to be up front about this sort of thing and talk about it, but just do it. My ex-sister in law contacted me recently and said to me, ‘Let’s work out this holiday thing to do,’ because obviously, our relationship is a little different now that I’m no longer married to her brother. So we’re trying to figure this out, and she emailed me and said point blank, ‘We’re both adults here,’ she said, ‘ We don’t need to do a gift exchange, but I would still like to get a little something for my nephew, your son.’ So she just approached it straight like that, and she said, ‘I would also like to send you a local treat, from where I live.’ She has a local area where they have nice special candy and whatever, and she said, ‘I would like to send you still just a small token of something local and something to experience.’ And we can do that. And we just sat down and just figured it out, as two adults do. And that’s what we did, and now we’re going to stick with it. And I’ll send them a little treat that’s local to my area; she’ll send me a little treat that’s local to her area, and she’ll send me something for my son. And that’s appropriate, and we just sat down and figured it out by email. Sometimes that’s what you need to do- is come up with this stuff and sort of suck it up, and have this conversation, we’re all adults here, we can talk about this like people.

HARLAN – – I think where we run into problems is when people don’t communicate, There’s a lot of reasons people don’t communicate on holiday – they can be uncomfortable, they could be stressed, they could just have too many things to do, but as long as one person starts communication it usually ends up fine, and that one person can be you!

MIRANDA – – That’s right. So now that we have these ‘Do Nows’ we do have a reader question, and this is a very interesting question and one that comes up a LOT, especially as Millennials get older. The question is,’What if I don’t want things, what if I prefer money?’ How do I ask others for money over the holidays?

HARLAN – – Yikes! Ok, so, as adults we can’t expect anything from anybody. I don’t think — gifts or money is not something that we can just do. Now if we have someone who says, ‘Listen’ – maybe your parents, maybe your relatives, we do want to get you something – ‘What can we get you?’ And the one thing that you need is cash, perhaps because you have to make your rent payment, and that’s going to help you — it’s a tricky situation, but the more open and honest you can be about it, the more people are going to be willing to help. You have to show them beforehand that you are responsible and can handle cash and can do what you’re planning to do with the cash gift. The worst thing is when — and I’m sure a lot of people have had this happen — a family member will ask for cash for a certain thing, and you see them seeing spending money on something else. The person said they needed money for one thing, but then they spent money on some frivolous type of another thing that was unnecessary and not included in what they said they needed money for. So — if you’re going to ask for money — you have to make sure you’re spotless in what you do and in what people see because you will burn bridges as easily as if you say you need money for one thing and people see you seeing money on something else.

So that’s the first step. That first step translates to being impeccable. If you can’t do that, then forget about asking for money in the first place. If you can do that, then the second thing you need to do is just open up and be honest, explain the situation and say, ‘Listen, we don’t need more things in our life right now, we need money.’ That’s if you’re at the point where you’re feeling or saying that you should be selling some of those excess things that you have. Try to find other ways to get the cash that you need, rather than asking people for money. It could be a tradition, however, which changes things. In some cultures and some families give money instead of things, and if that’s part of the culture then it’s understood and its fine but if it’s not part of the culture then you do have to figure how you’re going to broach the subject.

A lot of people feel that giving money is impersonal and is not something they want to do. People who feel that way may still be ok with providing a gift card for something that the recipient might need. If the reason you’re asking for cash is that your kitchen is falling apart and you need to do something about it, perhaps instead of asking for money you can find a way to get a Home Depot gift card or something like that. That way, someone at least knows that you are going to be spending the money for something specific, at the same time the giver feels like they’re not just handing over a wad of cash to you; it’s more of a present, which is in the spirit of the holiday season. So there’s that option as well. But if it’s the cash you need because you’ve got to write that check to your rent payment, to your mortgage lender or whatever it happens to be, then you just have to be totally upfront about it and say, ‘Listen, this is what I need. I don’t need any THING, and I will find some way to repay you for this kindness somewhere down the line.’ I can’t say that this is something that I’ve had to encounter, but that’s how I would approach it.

MIRANDA – – I think it’s interesting, one of the things we see now, ‘Hey everybody, for my holiday present, why don’t contribute to my GoFundMe campaign. That’s something that I don’t advocate, that’s something to do, I think that’s horrifying on so many levels. I do think that, like you said, if somebody asks you specifically what do you want, and you do prefer money or a gift card, you can say something like, ‘ Hey, I’m trying to save up for this vacation if you would like to help contribute to that, that would be super-fantastic.’ But don’t go around telling everybody you want this. If somebody asks you specifically, ‘What are you looking for?’ Then you can be honest, and say, ‘Hey, I am saving up for this vacation, if you want to help me with that, it’s great, if not, I’d also appreciate a gift card to the grocery store’ – something like that. Give options and be up front about it. But I do not advocate going around approaching other people and saying, ‘Hey, this is what you want to get me.’ because that’s real — (laughs) there are no words for that.

HARLAN – -Thanks for joining us today on Adulting. Come to our website at adulting.tv and join us the next week for another episode.

Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed byHarlan Landes
Music bybensound.com

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You’ve got an opinion about your friend’s wedding? Keep it to yourself.

Planning a wedding is stressful.

Typically, in our society, most of that pressure falls on the bride.

Sadly, the general public adds to the stress by asking brides-to-be awkward, overly personal and downright embarrassing questions. I experienced this in the lead-up to my own wedding, and it made me realize I’ve probably been on the opposite end without realizing it.

We all mean well, but most people don’t realize how often brides hear the same inappropriate comments and questions – and how annoying it can be. Here are a few things you should never say to a bride:

1. Do you plan to lose weight?

I joined a boxing gym a few months before I got engaged. When I announced my happy news, some of the gym regulars asked if I was “sweating for the wedding.”

Despite saying I’d continue to exercise after I got married, most refused to believe I was there to work out for anything but the big day. Many assumed, out loud, that I’d let my membership lapse after the wedding.

I admit that looking and feeling beautiful on my wedding day was important to me, but I didn’t need others reminding me. Getting married is about joining two lives together, not dropping a dress size for your wedding photos.

2. Wow, what an unusual ring!

I told my husband months before our engagement I didn’t believe in engagement rings. When I announced my engagement to my coworkers and friends, they immediately asked where my ring was.

Some women are happy to show off their rings, but others are more reticent – especially if they have a small diamond, a non-diamond, or no ring at all.

We’re all aware what a traditional engagement ring looks like, and no one wants to be reminded their ring is “different” or “interesting.” Those are all euphemisms for, “Wow, your fiance couldn’t be bothered to buy you a real diamond, huh?”

One coworker even asked me if I was engaged, months after I’d started planning my wedding. I’d talked to her about it multiple times. She said she couldn’t remember because I didn’t wear a ring.

If your friend offers to show you her ring, say it’s beautiful and move on. If she says she didn’t want one, respect her decision.

3. When do you plan to have kids?

The floodgates of inappropriate commenting open when you get engaged. Previously respectful people become nosy, asking questions that should be reserved for a private dinner or family gathering.

That brings us to the question of children.

Why is everyone in a rush to know what happens after the wedding? I just decided to commit myself to someone else for eternity and now I have to think about kids?

Most recently engaged couples are too busy thinking about cake flavors and wedding playlists to even consider the possibility of kids, much less answer questions about it. If the bride in question has firm plans to get pregnant, it will probably come up organically over the course of conversation.

4. You’re not doing what at your wedding?

I’m convinced that wedding announcements bring about more rude behavior than busy travel times at the airport. Suddenly, everyone has to share their opinions about your wedding.

No matter what you think, don’t tell a bride what she should or shouldn’t do at her wedding. I appreciated the suggestions people had about ways to save money or how to handle the guest list, but firm opinions about my specific situation made me feel uncomfortable and judged. Most of the time, I nodded politely and changed the subject.

Don’t assume brides want to hear your opinions about their wedding. Wedding planning involves bringing together two people, two families, and two distinct ideas of what a proper wedding entails. Fortunately, I married into a family who didn’t feel strongly about how the wedding should look – but not every bride is so lucky.

5. You’re not changing your name?

This is at the top of the list of things never to say to a bride.

My fiance knew I wouldn’t change my last name before we even got engaged. He was, and continues to be, fine with it.  Not everyone was so comfortable with my decision.

One boss told me it was “disrespectful” to my future husband and his family. Others asked, “Is your fiance OK with you not changing your name?”

Taking on a new last name is one of the most personal decisions a bride can make – which means it’s nobody else’s business. People who judge me probably don’t know I immigrated with my family from Ukraine, and my last name is an important tie to our journey.

Even if you think I’m slighting my future husband, the only opinion that really matters is his. Again, he’s fine with it.

6. I can’t wait to come!

The most awkward experience a bride-to-be can have is with friends and family who presume, wrongly, that they’ll be invited to the wedding. No one wants to tell an excited friend they won’t need to save the date.

Don’t assume you’re coming to the wedding until you open the invitation. You’ll risk embarrassing yourself or forcing an invite out of guilt. Don’t put the bride – or yourself – in that situation.

What are some of the things you think you should never say to a bride?

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