Maintaining adult friendships can be difficult. It’s not like high school, where you see each other every day. You actually have to put in some effort to keep them alive. I guess you could say adult friendships are like plants. You need to care for them. A little bit of this and a little bit of that to keep things just right.
So here are my top secrets to maintaining adult friendships.
The benefits of friendship
Friendships play a crucial role in our overall well-being and happiness. And that doesn’t change in adulthood.
They provide us with a social support system outside of our immediate family and can offer a unique perspective on life.
They offer a safe space for vulnerability to share our wins, losses and goals without the fear of judgement.
Adult friendships bring opportunities for personal growth by exposing us to different experiences, perspectives and ideas. It’s highly unlikely that you have had the exact same upbringing as a friend. So they can provide a unique viewpoint.
Healthy friendships help boost our self-esteem and enhance our social skills.
On top of all that, adult friendships promote a healthy work-life balance by providing an outlet for relaxation, fun, and shared experiences.
The challenges of maintaining friendships in adulthood
Maintaining friendships in adulthood presents a unique set of challenges that can strain even the strongest of connections.
The demands of a career, family, personal responsibilities and adult life in general, don’t leave enough free time and energy for nurturing relationships. Busy schedules, varying geographical distances, and differing priorities can create barriers when it comes to regular communication and face-to-face interactions.
Plus people grow and friendships change over time, your interests and lifestyle can also drift apart, despite spending time together.
But despite these challenges, remember the value that adult friendships provide and make an effort to help build and sustain meaningful connections.
The strength of our friendship isn’t as dependent upon how much we like each other, but more on how much time we spend together developing our friendship in broader and deeper ways.Shasta Nelson
How you can maintain adult friendships
Put in the effort
Friendships are a two-way street. So that means you also have to put in some effort. Don’t sit around and wait for your friends to make plans with you. Be that person that puts in the effort to organise something. If it’s just you and one other friend it can be easy to set something up. I know with my friends, the more of us there are the harder it can be to organise something that works for everyone.
But here are some ideas to start putting in the effort:
- Send a quick text asking what they’ve been up to
- Invite them out for coffee or brunch
- Share a throwback photo with them; remember when?
- Start a group chat on a social network to organise a catch-up
You show up for your friends during the good times. So why not show up when things aren’t so great? We all know that it’s the good friends who stick around when the going gets tough for someone. It’s not even hard to show up during that time.
The easiest way to show up for a friend is to think about how you’d like your friends to show up for you in any given situation. It could be financial support, running errands and doing chores, delivering some preprepared meals, looking after their kids or even just offering your company.
Times you need your friends the most:
- After the loss of a loved one
- During a season of chaos
- After a miscarriage
- During fertility treatment
- After the birth of your child
- During a pandemic
A phone call can go a long way in showing someone that you care during difficult times.
We all need supportive relationships at different stages throughout our lives and it’s great when that support is mutual.
Sometimes the difference between success and failure comes down the to amount of support a person had.
And I don’t know about you, but I want to do everything I can to help my friends succeed.
A few ways you can support your friends:
- Support and encourage their decisions
- Be a good listener
- Offer advice if they ask for it
- Celebrate their accomplishments
- Respect their healthy boundaries
- Be reliable
- Show up when they need you
- Check-in on them to see how they are going
It also doesn’t take much to support the work they do or their business. It costs you nothing to recommend to your friend or like or share their social media posts.
Follow up with them
It’s sometimes easy to get lost in our own little world, but it can be easy to reconnect. It can often make a huge difference to have a friend who cares enough to check-in.
Here are a few ways you can follow up with your friends to maintain meaningful relationships:
- Ask them how their date went
- Ask them if they got the promotion
- Ask them how their child is going after something happened
- Ask them how their parents are doing
- Ask them how their doctor’s appointment went
- Ask them about their new romantic relationship
Following up with your friends often deepens the relationship as it extends your mutual interest in each other.
We all love to be made to feel special on occasion. So why not show some appreciation for that friend that’s always there for you? And the best surprises are the ones they don’t see coming.
Ways you can surprise your friends:
- Send them a gift you know they’ll love
- Send them an encouraging text message
- Show up at their work at lunchtime to have lunch with them
- Remember important dates like birthdays, anniversaries and deathdays
A lot of time it really is the little things like this that make for the most positive relationships. It’s a great way to make someone feel loved and appreciated.
All of this advice also works for new friendships, mending a friendship breakup, meeting new people, expanding the number of people in your friend group, reconnecting with old friends, improving your relationship with your closest friends, helping you determine a true friend or best friend and even a potential friend.
These are all different ways that you can show your friends that you care, all while building and maintaining strong social connections.