It’s funny the things we take for granted as children, like spending time with our friends. As we get older, friendships are just as important, yet time marches on and with it comes all the complications and chaos of adulthood making it harder to keep them close.
My best friend since Kindergarten, Bethany, lives 13 hours away by car, 2 ½ hours by plane, and sometimes weeks away by phone if we’re not careful. Through colleges in different cities, out-of-state moves, marriages, career shifts, and new motherhood we have maintained a nearly 28 year long friendship. While neither of us are experts, we’ve learned a lot along the way about keeping a friendship going even when adult life gets crazy.
Here are a few of our biggest tips!
#1 Make the Little Moments Count
Ask most women and they’ll tell you that they never have enough time in a day! With so much going on, it may feel hard to carve out an hour for a long phone call or lunch date. So make the little moments count by using the time you have to intentionally communicate. Relationships are all about communication, so don’t feel like the get togethers or longer calls are all that matter! Waiting 20 minutes in the school pick–up line? Make the call! Cooking dinner and waiting for water to boil? Send a text that you’re thinking of them and want to chat soon. Even if you see something silly online like a meme or video that makes you think of them – send it their way.
#2 Get Something on the Calendar
The truth is, even though we might miss each other, life gets in the way. Scheduling time for friendships may seem a little “corporate” but ask yourself how often you say you’ll get together or chat and something comes up? (In fact, this very article you’re reading was supposed to involve a Facetime call with Bethany to talk about what tips to share and it ended up being a few text messages instead!) The fact is, choosing a weekly or monthly day of the week and time for a phone call can really help carve out intentional time together more. Even if you don’t want to add something to your calendar, just sending a message in advance asking if they are free tomorrow at noon or Friday after the kids go to bed can be so helpful to stay in touch more.
#3 Share Your Headlines
Don’t waste precious time on small talk! Every week when something comes up that Bethany or I really want to share with each other we’ll test one another something about it with a “remind me to tell you about…” When we finally hop on a call we go back and forth sharing our “headlines,” the important “need to know” and “have to share” topics of our lives. Sometimes there is so much going on you won’t be able to fit it all in or you’ll forget a few things, but getting some of the important stuff off your chest or sharing funny or serious stories with that friend makes it feel like you really are there in their life, even if not daily.
#4 Plan In-Person Time When You Can
Some friendships are much stronger than the physical distance and time between them. While the majority of communication these days may be digital or over the phone, making time for in-person, real life moments together matter. If you live in close proximity, try to get something on the calendar every few months or quarterly. If you’re long distance like my best friend and I, planning a visit each year may be more accessible. Plan time with one another’s families if you’re all close but make sure you get some time for just the two of you to catch up, get personal, and make memories.
#5 Show Grace with Each Other
Remember, if you are thinking about your friend and life is just so chaotic right now that you haven’t had time to reach out, there’s a chance they are feeling the same way. Show each other grace when it comes to communicating. It can be frustrating to have text messages unreplied to and voicemails not returned, but it’s important to remember it’s not always personal and may be due to a lack of time, mental space, and distraction. Rather than spending the next time you do communicate pointing fingers or rehashing periods of silence, try to move forward and enjoy the time you have together to catch up.
Now, who is that friend you’re missing at the moment? Pick at least one tip from this article and go reach out to them today!