Maintaining friendships as a grown-up can be a challenge. When we no longer see our friends every day, our work and responsibilities can crowd out our schedule and easily take over, making it hard to connect with those important to us. The good news is that with just a bit of effort, you can nurture your friendships to last.
The Truth About Friendships
Thankfully, gone are the days when we would prick our fingers and become "blood sisters" with our friends, but there was something to that act of loyalty that bred an allegiance in me toward my friends.
Moving from state to state several times growing up took me away from my friends over and over again. Even though I didn't see those friends anymore, I still thought of them and still considered them my friends. As a result, I came to view friendships as eternal things that would always be there even if I didn't do anything to maintain them.
This is only half true. There are some friends who are "blood sisters" no matter what and you can go without seeing them for years but when you reconnect it's just like yesterday. For the most part though, friendships take maintenance and as a result, we can find ourselves losing some friendships that might have been important to us simply because the other person did not share our same "no news is good news" philosophy on friendship. Here are 10 ways I've found to nurture your friendships and avoid friendship neglect.
10 Ways to Nurture Your Friendships
1. Be there
It goes without saying that likely the most basic definition of a friend is someone who is there for you when you need them. A few months ago, I was going through some very difficult emotional and physical trials.
I hardly see my best friend nowadays because we both have kids and live 120 miles apart. But upon hearing I was having a hard time, she cleared her schedule and drove the 6 hours round-trip to come spend the day with me. My emotional health bounced back within 24 hours of spending time with her. That's what friends do.
2. Gather the troops
Obviously, due to the time constraints of adulting, we only have so much time for meet ups with friends. One way around this is to host a gathering for a group of your friends all at once.
Choose a circle of friends who all know each other, keep it close knit, no more than 6 or 7 and let them bring their kids. You will solve the problem of "finding a sitter" for all of your friends and will relieve the stress of not keeping up with each other's lives from everyone in the group at the same time.
Last weekend, a friend of mine whom I hadn't seen in a few months took it upon himself to host a BBQ at his house for a circle of our friends, most of whom I had not seen in a year or more. He extended the invite to our kids and our significant others so it truly became an opportunity to grow closer together with this tight-knit group of friends and reconnect. All because one of us took it upon himself to gather us together.
3. Make the call
I've found that the easiest way to stay in touch with friends is to call them when I think of them. This is inevitably terrible timing for all my friends who work a 9-5 but that's ok. If they don't answer, I just leave a voicemail telling them I was just thinking about them.
Whenever I'm running errands or when I used to commute to work, I used the time in the car as an opportunity to catch up with friends. It's a productive way to redeem your time in traffic.
4. Offer practical support
Inevitably, there will come a time when our friends will need our support. Illness, the loss of a loved one, or some other tragic circumstance will touch the lives of each of us. Offering practical support in those times is crucial to the friendship.
Dropping of a hot meal, offering to clean their house or giving money to help them with funeral arrangements are practical ways to offer support in times of distress.
5. Message in a bottle
These days, sending a hand-written note can equate to sending a message in a bottle, but nothing says you care like a hand-written note. I keep a stash of empty notecards and envelopes and send them out frequently as "thank you" or "just thinking of you" messages to friends.
Your heart never stops being happy to find a card in the mailbox from a friend.
6. Be a good friend
The Golden Rule applies to friendships as well as any other relationship. I am always telling my son "If you want to have friends, you have to be a good friend" and there's no better way to start than in treating your friends the way you would want to be treated.
This especially goes for Facebook comments. With all the political divisiveness in our world, so many people are expressing their views on Facebook and "clean-out your feed" is a trend referring to unfriending all of those whose opinions differ from your own.
When I am tempted to do this, I ask myself one question:
"Would you want your friend to de-friend you just because they didn't agree with you?" My answer is a resounding "definitely not".
As a result, my Facebook feed may be swarming with views entirely contrary to mine on a daily basis, but these people are my friends. I love them. I am not friends with them because they share my views. I'm friends with them because I genuinely like them as people.
Chances are high that true friendships will trump differing political views, no pun intended. When in doubt, be the friend you want someone else to be toward you.
The Golden Rule "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you"Jesus
7. Say yes
We have such packed schedules that sometimes getting an invitation to get together from a friend can feel like another obligation. Say yes anyway. Making time for your friends reduces stress and releases happy hormones so this is one yes in your schedule you can feel good about afterward.
8. Pray for your friends
Since I was a little girl, I have prayed the same bed-time mantra that I now pass on to my son. It is a litany of blessing upon everyone that touches my life. A blanket prayer of blessings so to speak. It goes like this:
"Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
Watch and guard me through the night,
And bring me safe to morning's light.
God bless my mommy, my daddy, my grandmas and grandpas, God bless all my aunts and uncles, God bless my cousins, my friends, my teachers, my school, my church and God bless me. Please bless all of the children around the world who need food and water.
and please use me for your glory,
In Jesus' name, Amen."
I then go on to pray for those friends and family members specifically by name that come to my mind each night.
I can't tell you how many times I have been praying for a friend and then spontaneously received a call from them that they were going through something difficult.
Praying for your friends may seem like the least you can do, when in fact it is in the most power you have to do for them.
9. Grab Coffee
If life is too hectic for lunch or dinner with friends, grabbing coffee in the mid-morning or afternoon can serve as a great mini touch-point. You can pencil it in to stop by the local coffee shop in between meetings or on your way to the grocery store. This simple face time with a friend will work wonders for your friendship and personal well-being.
I don't do this enough, but it's one of the things I have on my radar for doing better to nurture my friendships.
10. Don't let shame win
You think of a friend because something funny just happened that they would appreciate and you have the urge to call them but you realize you haven't spoken to them in months or maybe longer and your shame keeps you from acting. Do it anyway.
If you're too ashamed to call, then send a text, but don't let shame keep you from letting them know you were thinking of them.
Nurturing our friendships is important to keep our friends. It is possible to nurture your friendships with simple effort. Here are 10 ways to nurture your friendships today:
- Be there
- Gather the troops
- Make the call
- Offer practical support
- Message in a bottle
- Be a good friend
- Say yes
- Pray for your friends
- Grab coffee
- Don't let shame win
Here's to building friendships that last!
Welcome to Honey & Figs! I'm Lisa. I love helping people with practical ways to live more abundant lives based on my own experience. You can click here to find out more about me.