Maintaining Friendships and Developing New Ones

It’s no secret that making new friends and staying in touch with longtime ones is more challenging as adults than it was when we were younger. During our school days, we were constantly surrounded by our peers, meeting new people, and participating in activities, clubs and sports.

As you grow older, you quickly realize that staying in touch with friends and meeting new people requires more effort. It’s easy for family responsibilities, jobs and all the other tasks of daily life to get in the way of creating and nourishing bonds with friends, but it is worth the effort.

Here are some ways to intentionally maintain friendships:

  • Reach out. Even if it’s been a while, it’s never too late to reach out to an old friend and check in on them. Ask about their children and grandchildren or how they’ve been spending their time lately. It’s amazing how easy it can be to pick up right where you left off and make up for lost time.
  • Connect. Talk to them about what books they’ve been reading, shows and movies they’ve been watching, or new hobbies they’ve taken up. Whether your longtime friends are near or far, there are many ways to stay connected.
  • Make small gestures. Thoughtful, personable actions go a long way in any relationship, and friendships are no different. If you recently read a book you loved, mail a copy to your friend! Send them a card or a unique gift for their birthday. Write a note to them out of the blue telling them how great they are and how glad you are that they’re in your life.
  • Schedule time with your friends. Many friendships fade because both parties want to spend time together, but fail to plan or follow through. If your friend lives far away, make a trip to see them if you’re able, or schedule a video chat. If you live near your friend, schedule a regular, recurring time to meet and keep up with each other’s lives.

In addition to maintaining existing friendships, meeting new friends is important too. But this can be difficult to do, especially if you typically see the same people every day. Here are some suggestions for meeting new people and expanding your friendship circles:

  • Get involved. A great way to meet new people is to get involved through volunteer work and different organizations or clubs that you are interested in. In these spaces, you’re able to meet people with similar passions and interests and have plenty of opportunity to form new relationships.
  • Look around. Take a look at the community you already live in. Is there anyone you’ve always known, but never got the chance to truly connect with? It’s never too late to start forming strong friendships with people who have long been acquaintances.
  • Don’t be shy. When you do find yourself in situations where you are meeting new people, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and strike up a conversation. It can be daunting, but who knows where it could lead!
  • Friend dates. When it comes to romantic relationships, you might ask someone on a date if you’re interested in getting to know them, and friendships aren’t much different. It can feel awkward sometimes, but express your interest in forming a friendship and ask them to join you for coffee or lunch. “Friend dates” are fun!
  • Ask questions. At the beginning of a new friendship, you still have much to learn about the other person. It’s important to listen more than you talk. Ask thoughtful questions and listen intently and without judgment.

Friendships enrich our lives, provide us support, and open us up to experiences and perspectives that are different from our own. We hope this inspires you with new ways to prioritize friendships in your life – whether they’re old or new, near or far.