How to Keep Friendships Strong When Everyone’s Really Busy
posted on September 4, 2018 | by Chelsea Becker
If there’s one thing I miss most about college, it’s living walking distance from some of my best friends. Within a matter of 5 minutes, I could be on a friend’s couch, and the simplicity of responsibilities made it a breeze to make plans…like every single day. Things changed a bit throughout my early twenties, and by the time I turned 27 or so, I noticed a huge shift. No longer were Thursdays always reserved for Happy Hour or Sundays for lounging in the park. People had commitments, including me!
I won’t lie and say things have gotten easier in my 30s, and I’ll admit I see my friends less than ever. But! The friendships that I put effort into feel stronger than ever. If you’re struggling with keeping friendships floating along with life, I hope these ideas help.
Plan in advance
Between my friends with kids and busy social lives, it’s nearly impossible to have a sporadic dinner. Because of this, we’re not afraid to plan months in advance. My friends and I have a group chain and we make sure there’s always something in the pipeline, even if it’s 2 months out. Knowing that you have something to look forward to and a time to connect will keep you excited – just like any lingering plans do. You can even set a reminder in your phone to check in once a month if you’ve fallen off.
Meet in the middle
Even though I’m into doing less this decade, the obligations that I do have are less flexible than in my twenties. And same with my friends. Jobs get bigger, people have children, friends move to the suburbs, and so on. Instead of thinking back to the things you all did when you were 25, make plans around obligations.
If a friend wants to put her baby to bed, I’m happy going to her and pouring a glass of post-bedtime wine. If I need to be in the city for a meeting, my friends will meet me there after work. When someone moves far away, take an entire weekend day and visit them! Basically, yes, you might need to put more effort into things, but it makes the time spent together that more special.
Don’t take things personally
One of my favorite things about my best friends and I is that we don’t take changing plans personally. If a friend bails on me because she’s stressed, I tell her NBD! If I’m the one who has to change plans, I don’t worry that my friends will judge. Though this tip doesn’t necessarily get you to see your friends more often – it keeps the bond and trust strong. Taking things personally is one way to ruin a friendship over nothing, and so very high school.
No matter what! If you have a core group of friends – or even just a couple of you – make a yearly date. If you don’t live in the same area anymore, choose a location in the middle. If you all live close, get out of town and explore somewhere new together. Even after the spring breaks and bachelorette parties end, it’s imperative to get face time. To split up the duties, have each person be in charge of what they’re good at (finding a place, making the playlists, reservations at a cool restaurant, etc.).
Routine phone dates
But actually plan them. I have a friend who I call once a week when I’m walking my dog in the morning. I know Thursday mornings are reserved for us – and so does she. Touch base with your friends and find times in your days where you can chat weekly, monthly, whatever. Maybe you talk during commute, while making dinner, or even while laying in bed before you doze of. Do more than just text back and forth, but keep phone dates easy by mindfully adding them to your daily routine.
Use social media to your advantage
My best friend Lindsay is really really good at this. Probably once a week, she’ll tag me in some hilarious meme on Facebook or Instagram. It not only makes me LOL, but I feel connected to her by an inside joke that only we get. Without a doubt it makes me feel special and reminds me of how important that friendship is. When things get really busy, do your part to make friends feel good (and a quick tag is a fun way to do that).
I’d love to hear how you keep friendships strong with busy schedules!