5 Ways to Maintain Friendships as an Adult
Being an adult kinda sucks. You have to go to work, pay your bills and you inevitably have at least one body part that hurts all the time for no apparent reason. With all the responsibilities that seem to be chasing after you, finding ways to maintain friendships as an adult can be a challenge.
One of the main things that people say when we ask them what characterizes a good friendship is that it should be easy.
They reflect back on their childhood friendships and how you could just turn up at a friend’s house with a football and a bag of dangerously sugary snacks and hang out. Unfortunately, adulthood doesn’t quite work like that.
Friendship is a full-time job. It requires work and maintenance and effort on the part of everyone involved. However, the rewards of friendship far outweigh its costs.
Here are a few simple tips to make the process a little bit easier
1. Get a group chat going
A really easy one to start off with, and something many of us probably already do. A group chat on Facebook, WhatsApp, or similar platform is a great way to feel sociable and experience the unique interactions that come from a specific combination of people.
But it’s not enough to just add a load of friends to a chat and call it a day. You’ve actually got to post messages and read and reply to those sent by others.
It sounds simple, but as soon as there’s one person who keeps reading the messages but offers nothing in return, tensions can arise. Just because you’re in a group doesn’t mean you’re actually communicating. That’s why you need to…
2. Make time to talk
Despite the fact that the Internet makes it easier than ever to communicate with people, we arguably spend less time doing it. That’s because it’s so easy for messages to get lost amongst a sea of notifications and obligations.
We’ve all seen a message from a friend, made a mental note to reply later when we’ve finished whatever we’re busy doing, and then promptly forgotten all about it until the next time the friend messages — a little less politely this time.
The best way to overcome this is to actually make time in your diary to talk, whether that’s setting a reminder in your phone to reply to a message you received or arranging a phone call or video chat in advance.
It can even be a reoccurring arrangement. Routine helps, so it’s important to…
3. Keep traditions alive
Every summer since we were 16, my friends from school and I spend one-afternoon playing golf. That is literally the only day of the year we ever play, so not only are we all terrible, we stand no chance of getting any better either.
Despite the fact that we take three times as long as we should to get around the course and get shouted at by “real” golfers, those afternoons are always great fun.
We tell childish jokes, reminisce over embarrassing events from school, and mock each other mercilessly to the point where passing strangers must assume we’re mortal enemies.
Last year, for the first time, we didn’t play. Full-time jobs, plus the fact that many of us have moved away from our hometown (and I live abroad) made it impossible to do something we’d somewhat taken for granted.
We had always been in the same place at the same time. It was surprising just how much we missed it. To make sure this doesn’t happen again it’s necessary to…
4. Schedule events
The routines of adulthood mean that it’s easy to miss impromptu gatherings, but the positive side of this lack of flexibility means that once things are in your diary, they usually stay there.
Planning events weeks or months in advance means that you have something to look forward to, and the planning itself can be a great opportunity for communication.
Aside from standard meetup occasions like Christmas or weddings, it’s worth keeping an eye out for things you could do together.
If there’s a concert or a sports event that a friend would be interested in, send them an invite. Even if you never end up going, you’ve got a conversation starter.
And if you do, even better! You’ve got something really cool to talk about for years to come. That being said, you should also…
5. Schedule nothing
Concerts and sports events and the likes are great, but when it comes to our best memories with our friends many of them don’t revolve around major events.
A lot of the best times were when you would just hang out and do nothing. It’s important to schedule these times too.
My friends and I will still regularly meet up, eat the same junk food, play the same video games, and tell the same terrible jokes that we did when we were twelve years old.
If people ask what we did, it sounds like nothing at all, but actually it’s incredibly valuable. It’s cozy and it’s familiar and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Just because your plans don’t involve anything, in particular, doesn’t mean that they’re not important.
Arrange an occasion to meet at someone’s house, for no other reason than you want to hang out. It doesn’t need to be someone’s birthday to have an excuse to see people you care about.
Friendship should be easy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. It’s tough to make friends and just as tough to maintain the friendships you already have. Hopefully, these tips can make things just a little bit easier.
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