Maintaining Friendships Throughout Adulthood
Do you ever feel like you don’t have enough time for your friendships? If you do, you certainly aren’t alone. It can be incredibly difficult to find time for friends and adulthood includes a whole new set of responsibilities for you to prioritize. It’s easy to set friendships aside as you try to barrel through your overflowing to-do list and meet your obligations.
However, strong relationships provide a number of health benefits (plus, these relationships are downright enjoyable). If you’re struggling to maintain relationships with your friends, here are five strategies for nurturing adult friendships.
1. Focus on friend quality, not quantity
Having a few close friends who you feel truly connected to is far more fulfilling than having a large circle that you struggle to keep up with. It’s also important to have different friends who fill different roles in your life.
In her book, “Friendships Don't Just Happen!: The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of GirlFriends”, Shasta Nelson explains that there are five different types of friends we have and need. The book isn’t just for women, either — anyone can learn a few things about cultivating meaningful friendships.
2. Determine why maintaining friendships has been hard
If you’ve been struggling to make time for friendships in your adult life, you may need to actively re-focus your priorities. Examine why you haven’t been making time for friends, too. Are you stressed at work? Is parenting taking up most of your time? Are you simply too stressed to consider adding another thing to your calendar?
Before you can nurture your relationships you must determine why it’s been so difficult in the past. Once you have your reasons it’s time to look for solutions.
3. Then, actively prioritize your friendships
Focusing more on friendships might require you to make a mindset shift around your priorities while coming up with some solutions that work for your situation.
For example, can you set clearer boundaries between work time and personal time in the office? Could you hire a babysitter and give yourself the opportunity to meet up with friends? For stress, can you identify activities that help you de-stress and clear your mind, like taking a walk outside, meditating, or journaling?
Once you realize how important maintaining friendships is you’ll be more inclined to prioritize them.
4. Get creative with your activities
Spending time with friends doesn’t have to involve anything fancy or time-consuming. Could you fit any of these ideas into your schedule?
Meeting up to walk the dogs before work
Grabbing coffee together before work
Meeting up for lunch
A quick drink at Happy Hour before heading home
Working out together
Try to get some in-person time with your friends. Email, phone, and text messages are also great communication tools for when you can’t meet up.
5. Pay attention to how you feel when you’re with your friends
As you begin spending more time with friends be sure to pay attention to your mood, then compare it to how you feel when you neglect your friendships. Do you notice a difference? Spending time with friends can greatly improve your emotional well-being, so remember that feeling whenever you’re tempted to cancel on plans or re-schedule!