When you’re in high school or college, it’s easy to make and maintain friendships. But dynamics evolve significantly as you graduate, are thrown into the real world and start hitting milestones at different times. Suddenly one of you is wrangling a newborn while others in your group are swiping through Bumble with reckless abandon.
The core of your friendship hasn’t changed, but you feel a disconnect that wasn’t there when everyone was wondering how the prom date situation was going to pan out or directing their attention to why the dorm food is so terrible. Eventually you might feel out of sync with the same people who could once finish your sentences. It’s a strange and also sort of sad realization, but it doesn’t mean your friendship is damaged.
On this week’s episode we share our tips for making sure your friendships evolve to fit your adult life, no matter how many miles apart (in both distance or stages) you are:
See your friend in her natural habitat
When you’re on the phone catching up with your BFF, she’s talking all about her favorite weekend hangout spot, her cubemate and the sweaty subway car she rode. And she’s always knocking tourists out of the way to get to as you chat. You have a sense of what her life is like just from what she tells you, but it’s much easier to stay connected when you actually go visit your friend in her city. Then when you have a conversation, you can picture her work BFF you now follow on Instagram and gag as you recall the gym sock-esque odor associated with convenient but unglamorous public transportation.
Schedule a date and time to catch up
You make time to grab dinner or drinks with the friends who live near you, but place as much priority on scheduling phone calls or FaceTime catch-ups with far-away friends too. If you don’t, it’s easy to go months without having a substantial conversation. And as fun as emojis and GIFs are, they don’t quite cut it when it comes to sustaining your relationship.
You may not have college spring break or frat parties to look forward to anymore, but you can start new traditions that are more applicable to this stage in your life. Make it a point to travel somewhere new together once or twice a year. Send each other birthday or holiday presents. Head back to your college town for homecoming weekend and $2 PBRs (no shame). Setting these checkpoints throughout the year helps you to stay in touch and feel connected, even as life gets busy.
Be okay with the new dynamic
Even if you’re not “finish each other’s sentences” close anymore, you can still value the friendship in its new form. However, if your phone conversations are filled with long pauses and your in-person time feels reminiscent of an awkward first date, it may be time to appreciate the memories yet focus your attention elsewhere in the future. No need to feel guilty about it either. Dynamics shift, but that doesn’t take away the valuable role you once played in each other’s lives.