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.