4 Ways to Maintain Friendships in Life’s Busiest Stages

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Many adults hit a busy stage of life where they spread themselves too thin, juggle more than one person’s load, and even cheat themselves on sleep in order to get everything on their to-do lists checked off. Sound familiar?

If this is you, if the constant emails, that ever-present laundry pile, the 18.3 million soccer practices and games and fundraisers your kid must attend feels draining right now, there are strategies that can help you find time for yourself (and your friends).

Here are 4 ways to help you keep and strengthen the friendships you already have even in the busiest stages  of your life.

Be Determined
If you’re not determined to maintain your friendships in the busy whirlwind of life, if you don’t really want it or block off time for it, then it’s not going to happen.  There’s no magic potion to magically pause the friends waiting on the sidelines of your busy life until your life frees up. You have to make a conscious decision to make cultivating friendship a priority…because, as much as we want it to, the sad truth is that friendships don’t last long on auto-pilot.

Keep in Touch
Staying connected on a regular basis, even via email or a phone call, and even for a short time, is an important ingredient to maintaining a friendship.  Think of keeping in touch as the fire that keeps the friendship lit, or an open door that allows you to walk through to get together for lunch, dinner, or just a fun visit to keep your friendship alive.

Make Time
Sounds simple, right? But we all know, even those fancy little calendar apps has a hard time making two crazy busy people’s schedules line up. But without making—even forcing— time for a friend, your bond will begin to weaken.  The good news is time is not an all or nothing thing. You don’t have to have 3 days to go lay around the beach together like you did in college, you don’t have to do dinner and a concert, or an all day golf tourney. Instead of focusing on the things you can’t find time for, then, be diligent to use the small spaces available in your calendar to meet with a friend.  It’s far better to spend a little time with a friend on a regular basis, then spend a lot of time with them only once a year. The former will keep the friendship growing. The latter, no matter how sincere, will leave gaps and a sense of distance between you.

Show Interest and Appreciation
Letting your friends know how much you appreciate them and having an interest in their life will show them you truly do care about them—and your friendship with them, in spite of your busy schedule. Friends that feel appreciated and cared about will be more flexible, will show initiative themselves, and will ultimately be more open to staying closer to you even amidst the busiest stages of your life.

Maintaining your friendships in the busiest stages of your life is difficult. Hands down. But with sincere determination, a willingness to keep in touch on a regular basis, and ongoing interest in your friends’ lives, it is possible to maintain a friendship–or find a new temporary “normal”-until life slows down a bit.

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  1. Henderson

    I don’t think it’s saying everyone has to be outgoing. You can still be you and be shy or introverted or anything else but put in effort. I consider myself more of a recluse but I find it’s not good for me when I don’t get social stimulation for too long. I get too stuck in my own ways and set on my own ideas and I almost start to dread strangers bc I read all this stuff that happens in the news and forget how many good people are out there. For me, it’s essential that I put in the time and energy to connect with other people.

  2. MandolinGuy

    I’m not one to try a whole lot when it comes to social situations because I haven’t felt my effort has been rewarded in the past. So in stages of life that are really taxing with work or whatever, I’m not really looking for more things to manage…relationships fall to the back-burner and that’s okay with me.

    The underlying suggestion here is that all of us have to be Mr.Outgoing and I don’t think that’s true. But then again, I’ve come back a couple times…so there may be a small part of me that wonders if there’s more to it than I realize.

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