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Navigating Adult Friendships

"While some of my friendships are tight knots, others are loose threads,"

~ Esther Perel

As life changes and progresses, so do our relationships with others and, most importantly, our friendships. Friendships can be of the utmost significance to you or the people you've been meaning to catch up with but never do, depending on your stage of adulthood. Regardless of your age, we can all agree that keeping or making new friends is more challenging than it once was. The next thing you know, you're lying about your age to buy alcohol, get an older man interested in you, get into clubs, or get a fake ID, and the next thing you know, you're in your twenties and unwillingly accepting that you were bamboozled, hoodwinked, deluded, and swindled into thinking that life as an adult is great.

As we age, we tend to lose touch with our friends. Navigating adult friendships can be challenging, but here are a few tips to help.

Maintaining and nourishing friendships while juggling adult responsibilities is more difficult in the age of social media than simply accepting a friend request. 'Friendversaries' are a big deal on Facebook, and they're typically paired with cutesy video compilations of your best experiences together. The people you send most of your snaps to are immediately defined as your 'best friends' on Snapchat, while a green marker on Instagram signifies that you've made it to the precious inner circle of 'close friends.' But, for social media's insistence on categorizing people into arbitrary groups of friends, who qualifies as one when the cards are down, and the harsh reality of adult life sets in?

In elementary school, we would see our friends daily, make sure we sat with our closest friends, and go to birthday parties as proof of friendship. Taking different streams in grade 11 practically meant the end of our friendship as we grew older. Then came college, and while I met some fantastic people, some people from my childhood have stayed with me through thick and thin. Nonetheless, I sensed that maintaining friendships was becoming more complex. Sometimes, you'll have time while they won't; sometimes, it'll be the other way around.

The gradual thinning of your inner circle may directly contrast your memories of school and college when everybody you met instantly became a friend. It is easier to form fulfilling friendships with like-minded people as we grow and learn more about ourselves—our likes, dislikes, and opinions.

Friendships are what keep me going as a 21-year-old living away from home. I have school friends with whom I am still very close and a few with whom I have lost contact. I don't have many friends and don't see my most intimate friends daily, but I know who to call on a bad day. From personal experience, here are a few things I feel we should all remember when navigating adult friendships:

  • It demands our patience and attention. They do not operate on autopilot. Friendship requires us to show up, reach out, and accept responsibility for our actions.

  • It involves having to be firm, loving boundaries. Perhaps you should reserve time in your calendars for each other instead of "if you have time." It is the ability to say what is and is not acceptable to you. And, in turn, respect their boundaries.

  • It needs excellent communication. Remember that even if our friends know us well, they cannot read our minds. It's okay to ask for help or express our needs; our friends should do the same.

  • Often, we psych ourselves out and think we need a significant gesture to reconnect as if we need to make amends for not staying in touch more often. When something as simple as a phone call while cooking dinner or a text message to say, "Thinking of you." "What's going on in your world?" is sufficient to restart the conversation.

  • It is about reciprocity without keeping score. That give and take makes both parties feel engaged and connected to one another. It's a way of telling your friend, "It's worth my time to know what's going on in your life."

We need to talk about friendships more despite their importance. Friendships aren't an afterthought; we prioritize after everything else is taken care of. They are vital to our well-being, and whether they are here for a reason, a season, or a lifetime, they are lovingly woven into the fabric of our lives. These are the people we choose, the ones with whom we laugh and cry, who hold us accountable while graciously lifting us up. Although you may lose or outgrow some friends along the way, the actual remaining friendships should be treasured.


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