Learning How to Keep Friendship Alive: Time & Effort Required!

Learning how to keep friendship and live your best life becomes a much more complicated task as you get older. Work, kids, family obligations, holidays, they all pile up and take time away from maintaining friendship. Lori Rogers from My Evident Faith is here with us today to help us learn how to keep our priorities in order and hold onto those that matter most.

How To Maintain a Friendship

When my children were small, we moved to a new city and rented a townhouse in a community full of other families with small children. Our row of townhomes faced another row, with a grass courtyard in between. All of the families in those rows would spend their evenings socializing, lawn chairs pulled out to the patios, children running everywhere while the parents shared stories and drinks after a day’s work. Those moms who stayed home during the day joined in as well. In fact, this was just an extension of our day, as we shared babysitting and made play dates that were sometimes more for ourselves than our kids!

We didn’t think about the future, but if I had been asked, I would have said that these friends would be my friends forever.

Time went by and one by one we all moved out of the complex, buying our own homes in our new city.

The problem was that we all lived anywhere from four to ten miles from each other.

As the children grew, it became harder and harder to get together. The kids had new friends and had their own schedules. We were forced to spend more time on the phone with each other and less time hanging out. Eventually, even the phone time became more limited, as one by one we returned to full-time outside work schedules.

Funnily enough, all but one of these women is still my close friend. They are the people on my children’s emergency contact list for school, and I know that I can reach out to them when I have a problem and they will step in to help.

But like all good relationships, these friendships take work.

old friendships

Here are some of the things we do to help maintain our friendship:

1. Schedule “events”

Meet at a make-your-own ceramics shop so that you can create a gift for someone you love AND socialize while you make your gift. Many of these places allow you to BYOB and even have “Ladies Night” so that there are fewer children around as you get rowdy with your friends. You can do this on your own with a craft or movie night at your own house, just remember that if you do it this way then it will require some prep and clean-up on your part.

2. Schedule group shopping trips

Usually scheduled around a holiday or Sale-season, shopping trips are perfect if you don’t put pressure on each other to stay together while you shop. Drive together to an outlet or a mall you rarely go to, and once there, pull out your lists and decide where you need to go. Shop on your own, if you like, but meet together for lunch at an arranged time and compare shopping deals.

3. Find a hobby to share

Find a hobby that you all can share (book club, knitting club, scrapbooking) so that you can feel like you have a “legal” excuse to leave your family. Sometimes it is hard to say to your family, “I’m going out to meet friends.” It is much easier to say, “I have book club tonight, and I don’t want to miss the discussion.”

4. Set up coffee dates

Set up coffee dates in a central location, and don’t have expectations about who needs to be there. Be flexible. If someone can come for just a few minutes, they come if they can, stay for a quick chat, then go on their way. If someone needs to come late, welcome them anyway. And if you think of it, also set these up around people’s birthdays, and treat the birthday girl to a free latte!

5. Don’t set yourself up for failure

Don’t set yourself {or your friends} up for failure, expecting everyone to make it every time you schedule something. And share the organizing! If a friend sets up a get-together, make sure you don’t let too much time go by before you arrange the next one. Keep in touch using emails with a few lines (“thinking of you” works!). If your group is computer savvy, set up an online wiki, Gmail group, or Facebook group so that you can easily share things online, from recipes to stories from your daily adventures!

From remembering friends with a random card, to making that phone call on your way home from work when you are too tired to even talk, maintaining friendships can be as easy as you make it. The issue is that YOU have to make it a priority and in this way, your friends will know that they are important to you.

About the Author

My Evident FaithLori Rogers writes about all the bumps and tire-tracks that come with life’s parade of daily adventures. She writes at MyEvidentFaith.com, where she tries to keep it real and be brave about showing her Christian faith. In addition to writing as therapy, she does a little bit of hiking, a lot of reading, and a lot of glass lifting with her cherished friends. She can be reached at myevidentfaith@gmail.com or on Twitter @myevidentfaith and on Facebook at My Evident Faith.

About Francesca

One of two behind The SITS Girls and Bloggy Boot Camp. Believer that this community is a movement, and not just a website. Currently on a quest for unending free WiFi & stronger caffeine. I'd love to get to know you better: Find me on Twitter @FranBanducci and on Google+.
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  1. says

    This is so great, thank you!
    I have definitely let a lot of friendships slip. I’m holding on to the important ones now for dear life.
    It takes so much effort sometimes to not just lose them in the busyness.

  2. says

    I know I’m probably going to sound like sour grapes here, but I’ve given up on friendship. I don’t know why it is, but it seems like all of my friendships, throughout my adult life, have relied on ME being the one to make the phone call, plan the lunch date, or whatever. I have been dealing with a chronic illness for 12 years now. Because of this issue, I don’t get out much. I found that as I had to drop out of activities, it became as if I no longer existed.

    My son recently went to a function for a group he had been involved with for a few years (the homeschool band in our community) and, in fact, I had been on the board of the band for four years and was president of this group for a year. I know if you were to ask them, all the other moms affiliated with the band would say that they were my friend and that I was their friend, etc. However, since I resigned as president of the band, I haven’t heard from a single one. When my son went to this recent function, everyone told him to tell me that they “missed me.” How can you miss someone you can’t even bother to call?

    I am the kind of person that calls and/or sends a card when a person has a loss in their family. I’m the kind that will send a gift when someone has a new baby. But now that I cannot be regularly involved in activities, as I said, it’s as if I don’t exist.

    My point here is not to get you to feel sorry for me. It’s to say this: if you have a friend who, because of illness – or maybe they have a child that has special requirements – and they can’t get out much, please remember them! Please, please call them and invite them out every now and then. Just because their life has become limited (which believe me is no fun!) doesn’t mean they don’t want and need friends. Please be the person who picks up the phone. In fact, if someone hasn’t been around in a while, THEY are probably the exact person who needs to hear from you. Just a suggestion.

  3. says

    Great post! It’s so important to put effort into the friendships that we want to last. My university friends and I live between 15 minutes to 2 1/2 hours away. We schedule our dates months ahead of time and then plan around those dates. It may be a bit of effort, but definitely worth it!

  4. says

    Oh, I’m bowled over by these great comments and this input. I don’t know why I’m so surprised, after all, this is what I LOVE about this site – interesting REAL women getting on with life!! Thanks so much for commenting on my post, and for enjoying it!! I was going to try to comment after everyone’s posts but instead I’m going to visit everyone’s blogs! Can’t wait!!

  5. says

    This is so true… I think I have allowed so many friendships to go awry because of med school keeping me busy, and the truth is that, like eating and brushing your teeth, you have to prioritise it if it’s gonna happen… here’s hoping I can pick up the pieces.

  6. says

    This is such great advice! In fact, I think I’m going to schedule a ceramic shop meet-up for next week!

  7. says

    I really enjoyed this post and have taken notes! As a military spouse – we move frequently – it’s hard to maintain and even develop friendships sometimes. For instance – we are preparing to move next week (after being overseas for 3 years) to the East Coast for a 6 months school for my husband to attend and then move again for a tour of 2-3 years at another location. Sometimes I view those 6 month stents as a waste of time – when thinking about making friends. It feels like, “what’s the point?”, but then I remember that places rarely feel like home without a friend near by…and especially now that we have a two year old who has a social life too – she needs friends! So I feel like it is my duty to get out there and make friends and find her little playmates… this article has rejuvenated my desire to make friends and to breath new life into old friendship/current friendships that may have fell to the way side in the hustle and bustle of life.

  8. says

    I have a hard time maintaining friendships over time. It really takes a conscious effort to make contact with them regularly, especially when they live out of state. It’s something I want to get better at!

  9. says

    Lori – thank you for this wonderful post. I have very good friends and I’ve found that if I’m open to their feedback and always honest with them, then we’ll be good. Whenever I feel that I can’t be honest with a friend, then I know we’re not really friends. I used to think friendship should be effortless, but now that I’m older and life has gotten in the way of best intentions many times, I know better.

  10. says

    Great advice!

    Friendships and relationships don’t maintain themselves. We create them, by the effort we put into it, and we don’t have to wait for others to make the first move.

  11. says

    My BFF just left.
    Even after 20 years and over 500 miles we still schedule to visit each other at least once a year!
    It takes time, it means rearranging and it means sacrifice sometimes but we are committed to each other! So thankful for lifelong friends!

  12. says

    Excellent advice and reminder that it takes time and effort to maintain friendships, but the pay off is worth it! Life is better with friends–not facebook friends–but real, heart to heart friends. Signing off now to take your advice and SCHEDULE time with my dear friends!

  13. says

    Great advice! I have just moved to a new state and have a 7 month old. I’m finding it hard to stay connected to my friends from the different stages (and locations) in my life. All great suggestions I’ll have to put into action. Thanks

  14. says

    Great tips. As moms we get so caught up in children, the household and even work that we neglect our own social lives. This is something I need to work on too.

  15. says

    Great post! I think in general we throw the word friendship around all too easily. We meet someone new, love spending time with them, and all of a sudden they’re our new friend! But if we really get down to it, a friend is someone who knows us, cares to listens, and who when can call after a long absence and pick up like we never stopped talking. These are the people who have become a part of our families. We think about them daily, even when we cant be with them or speak to them. I write a lot about friendship on my website. One focuses on knowing if someone is really your friend: http://pieceofvirtue.blogspot.com/2012/01/ghfghgfhghg.html

    There are some others as well. I hope you’ll stop by!

    Vonae Deyshawn

  16. says

    If we don’t make friendships one of our priorities, it’s kind of like climbing a tree, going out on a limb, and turning around out there on that branch and starting to saw off the branch. I don’t know why that picture came to my mind, but I think it’s the truth. Growing is good. But never disconnect yourself from what brings you strength and make you what you are in the first place.

  17. says

    What great advice! Friendships, especially female friendships, are SO important to me and I need to be better about keeping in touch with people. I love the idea of having the Moms all hang out together at the end of the day. We need to create more opportunities like that for ourselves. That feeling of community can really create some strong friendships.

    PS: I have a great guest post today from a 17 year old blogger who is also a nanny. She has some great ideas for helping kids clean up. I’d love for her to have some comments and words of praise. She writes very well for a kid her age.