Maintaining Friendships as an Adult
There’s this misconception that friendships don’t take work – whether it’s with new friendships we create or the ones we’ve had for years. Maybe because we feel like we don’t have to be as intentional as we are in romantic relationships. For me, I thought friendships were supposed to consist of a mutual understanding of what we expect from each other.
It wasn’t until one of my good friends and I got into an argument and realized that something either needed to change or that would be the end of our 9-year friendship. Instead of expressing to her how I felt, I chose to disconnect and distance myself for a couple of days.
A defense that has comfortably become second nature to me. One reason being, I didn’t know how to be vulnerable because I felt like because we were friends, there were things that I felt were unnecessary to discuss given the length of our friendship.
In relationships, we frequently talk about values and our non-negotiables with our partners. But how come we don’t do the same in friendships? Up until today, I have never had this conversation with a friend.
I am clear about who I am and what I can offer to those I interact with – all things reflected in my values and beliefs. Two important values include responsibility and strong ethics – both in myself as well as those closest to me. Mindfully, I stopped allowing people into my life who didn’t fit my vibration because it only led to frustration, self-questioning, and resentment. And who really needs more of that?
Realizing the reasons why I became so closed off to my friend and how that could negatively affect our friendship in the long run, I decided to open up and express to her what I needed before it was too late. Creating boundaries in our friendship allows us to anticipate each other’s needs and to hopefully grow towards a healthier friendship.
It also allows me to be more accepting and welcoming of our differences and focus on the ways we are aligned in our friendship. With this experience, I’ve accepted that every friend plays a different role in my life and it’s important to figure out what that role is.
When Life Happens
With age comes more responsibility. More responsibility in our professional careers, romantic relationships, growing families, financial obligations, etc. With all of these life events, we lose track of time while managing our lives and often put our friendships on low priority.
With some of these ever-evolving changes in our lives, it’s important to be vigilant about who we give our time and energy to. I consider how and whether a person can fit into my space – whether it be spiritually, emotionally, personally or professionally; because the reality is, we don’t have the time or energy for friendships that aren’t meaningful.
With those we’ve already established a friendship with, it can be hard to maintain while being in different life stages. As we move past our 20’s, life events happen that separate us from the people we once were super closer to. We don’t get to spend as much time as we would like as other things in our life takes priority – resulting in sometimes feeling like there’s not much shared commonalities.
But, if we truly value the relationship we have with our friends, we do the necessary work and take the initiative to improve our friendship. When life gets overwhelming, our friends are the ones we go to, to unwind and reconnect. They are the gifts we get to choose, the ones who know and love the deepest parts of us, and the commitments we must continue to spend more time valuing.
‘It’s time we stop seeing our friendships as a luxury and instead recognize them for what they really are – a powerful way for us to invest in our well-being, community, and growth’– Miriam Kirmayer
I started writing this post during a time when my closest friend and I were in an argument. I was completely indifferent and somewhat ‘okay’ with the situation, realizing that was a form of defense. I was aware of how wrong it was on my part, especially towards a friendship I valued. So instead, I put my big girl panties on and decided to share my feelings of what I needed. It was a completely new experience for me given that I never really opened myself up in that way to anyone.
But what I’m realizing as I write this is maybe give it a try. Maybe try and be a little more vulnerable and telling a friend what you need from them and see where that takes you. However, if a friend is constantly crossing the boundaries you’ve set, then it’s perfectly okay and suggested to let that friendship go.
But for me, I’m actively working on being a better friend and opening myself to vulnerability in personal relationships. It’s just as important to have the same expectation for yourself when it comes to being a good friend to someone else.
Lastly, be more proactive in prioritizing time with your people – whether it’s once a week/month for a meet-up or something as simple as sending a text reminding them how important they are to you. It’s all about reminding yourself how your friends make you feel, how their strengths play a significant role in keeping you up when you’re down, and the many ways they show up in your life.