“You don’t spend time with your friends” I remember my dad saying countless times during my early twenties and I get it, he was right, I couldn’t remember the last time I physically hung out with my friends. I think it was one of their birthdays. It also got me thinking about friendships as an adult and what it means. Not because we don’t love each other but because the shape of our friendships change as we become adults.
Friendships as an adult are complicated. As a child, you are generally all thrown together and often going down the same road. You all go to school you go home and watch TV, maybe play video games, chat on social media and definitely do your homework. When you finish university, the road your lives lead is less connected and intertwined. Aside from the obvious, you don’t see each other every day, there are other factors which come into play. One friend will be getting married, while the other just got promoted to a senior position at the firm she is working at, while you’re another friend may still be working a part-time job figuring out what she wants to do with her life.
This ebb and flow in life mean staying connected and in each others, life can be tricky. You have to put in more effort into understanding each other to make things work. Ultimately, two things happen with friendships in your twenties, you either drift apart because your lives are too different and when you meet up you realise you no longer have anything in common with that person or you put in the hours and find the friendship will flourish and grow.
Case in point, I have a friend who I met while I was at university and when we left, we made an effort to see each other at least once a year, despite living in different cities. My best friend, my literal right-hand woman has the complete opposite life to the one I lead. (She is married with two of the most precious children I know) yet we remain as close as ever. We talk when we can and if we are both in the home city she is the one person who I will make time for outside of my family.
As an adult, we tend to have fewer friendships than we did as children, allowing us time to cherish and nurture the friendships which are important to us. As an adult, you realise it is the small things which count. You care less about the big gestures from birthdays past and instead cherish the voice notes showing people remembered you or when your ill knowing your friend is there to help with the weekly shop if you need it.
Adult friendships also require you to be humble. When you’re in school your life evolves around your friends and vice versa. As adults, this could not be further from the truth. You have to accept that you are not your friends’ number one priority every single moment of every day. You need to respect each other’s obligations and boundaries.
One of the reasons I feel like mine and my best friends friendship works so well is because we do not have any big expectations of each other. Neither of us gets mad when we miss each other calls. If we have even an hour of time together we make it count. We don’t get mad at the other for not carving out the entire day to spend together as we use too when we were 16. In the same way, you learn your partners love language, you should take the time to consider your friends love languages. For instance, I am not the biggest phone person. In fact, I rarely made phonecalls until I realised that was one of the ways my best friend found it easy to communicate. She was always busy so rather than texting sporadically she would call in the evening to catch up on things so I got used to speaking with her and having conversations on the phone. Interestingly now, my dad has had to learn to occasionally do that with me too.
Friendships like any other form of relationships take a little bit of compromise, empathy, understanding but also time and nourishment. If you don’t give them the time, they can’t flourish into something which could be beautiful.
So go, find your people and make the moments you share with them memorable.