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.