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Maintaining Friendships in Adulthood

How to be a better friend

“True friendship comes when the silence between two people is comfortable.”
– David Tyson

Whether we are introverts, extroverts, social butterflies or wallflowers; we can always use a friend or two. Making friends in childhood is generally easy. Children are less quick to judge each other, children are more likely to gravitate towards each other if they both like the color orange, and can connect with each other on such basic levels. This innocence is quickly lost, as we get older. A common complaint from many post-college adults is how difficult it is to make new friends. This is true. Making new friends is very challenging as an adult. However, keeping our old friendships alive also takes work. I always am up for making new friends but I am guilty of neglecting my long-term friendships; I think we all are. Maintaining friendships in the throes of a career, marriage, and kids is challenging. So can work to become better friends to those individuals who we cherish so deeply?

Be generous: Friends are an important aspect of our lives. They celebrate with us in moments of happiness and stick around to wipe away our tears in moments of despair. Buying gifts, picking up the dinner bill, offering to cook breakfast or working hard to be a good host, are all examples of extending your generosity. If your friend is in town then offer to take them out for a drink, if you are staying at a friend’s house then offer to buy them dinner, if it is your friend’s birthday then surprise them with an Amazon delivery. These acts of generosity do not have to be huge. Spending some extra money on a gift, card or gesture can go a long way.

Set aside time: We all have busy lives and therefore our time is precious, but so are our friendships. Set time aside to respond to your text messages, schedule a time to chat on the phone, and spend time eating a meal together. Time is something we can never get back so taking time away from social media to spend it in person with a friend is priceless.

Be present: When you are sitting down with your friend, be present. Put your phone away, listen, and actively engage in conversation. Life is short and you may not know when you will be able to see your friend again.

“Thinking of you”: Sending a funny text message or a cute card in the mail can be the best thing that happens to your friend all day. We actually have the ability to brighten someone’s day, so we should be taking advantage of this, especially with our friends.

Listen: Sometimes all we can do is listen. We may not have any advice to offer or we may not be able to fix our friend’s broken heart or stressful burden, but listening can be the best thing we can do at the time.

Make it a priority: If we do not prioritize our friendships, nobody else will.

More from Kristen Fuller, M.D.
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