Growing up, making and maintaining friendships was so easy. You could simply make a friend by just smiling at the child sitting next to you and by the end of the day you were best friends. Then because you school together or live in the same neighbourhood, maintaining the relationship was child’s play, no pun intended. However, as you grow up maintaining friendships let alone making new ones gets really hard. You are suddenly thrown into this world of adulting where you have responsibilities and commitments and so on and so forth. You and your friends go on to live their separate lives dominated by family and work and you forget to spend time with each other. So how do you work around that to ensure that you keep your friendships?
Make time for them and be appreciative
You have to actively make time to spend with them. Do not leave it up to chance and decide that you shall spend time with them when you ‘have time’. You are an adult. I have never heard of any adult who ‘has time’. You need to make time. As you plan the activities for the week or month, plan to meet up with friends too. Let that time be slotted for them so that if anything else pops up, you can turn it down unless it is an emergency. Additionally, learn to be appreciative of their time. Never get used to having them around that you take them for granted. True friendships are hard to come by, so treasure the ones you do have.
Be open and honest
The fortunate or unfortunate thing about growing older is that your circle of friends grows really small. Everyone else is just an acquaintance. So if you intend on keeping these few friends, you have to practice honesty and openness. Superficial relationships end really quickly. If you are not happy about something they are doing, tell them. If they are putting themselves in danger, share your thoughts. Honesty creates an environment for trust, which is a key aspect of maintaining friendships.
Resolve your differences
Like I said before, both you and your friends are busy people. You could have a simple disagreement that can cause you to go silent on each other. Without even knowing it, you end up drifting apart. Find a way to resolve your differences in an amicable manner. Talk it out. If it is time and space you both need, then give them time but don’t take too long. Do not sweep things under the rug either. Things under the rug fester, they grow but they never disappear. They may pop back up once in a while and may even be worse then. Do not allow disagreements that can be solved cost you a great friendship. Emotions fade over time. Just ensure that when they do, you still have your friend by your side.
Build each other.
You always want to be around people who inspire you to be better, people who call you out when you are on the wrong path. You are often told to align yourself with people who are walking in the same direction as you are. The destinations may be different but the journey has some similarities. Your friends should be your biggest supporters. Pushing you to be the best you can be. Human beings are naturally inclined to good vibes. They want to be around what they deem to be good for them. So if you are both good for each other, you will always have a great foundation for a true and lasting friendship.
Accept them for who they are
Your responsibility as a friend is to always push your friend to be the best version of themselves; to live up to their potential and to see it even when they can not. However, it is also your responsibility to accept and love them for who they are. Even when their belief system and opinions do not align with yours. You are still singular entities with different minds. This line may get a little blurred sometimes. However, if you love and care for your friend, you find a balance over time. Forcing them to conform to your expectations might only make them not want to hang out with you. They are your friends because they can be who they are without worrying about criticism and judgement.
Struggling to make new friends, here a couple of tips to help you get started. Five Conversation Starters That Make You Look Interesting