Balancing Old and New Friendships Isn't Always Easy

How do you strike a balance between friendship variety and friendship depth?

Posted Sep 23, 2015

This isn’t always easy in our very busy lives. We seldom have time to do the things we really would prefer to do as we spend time meeting external obligations. So, the key might be to invite potential “deep friends” to accompany you on some of the mundane tasks you have on your plate. Say, perhaps you have to run three or four errands on a weekend morning. Instead of doing the marketing and picking up dry cleaning by yourself, invite a friend to ride along with the promise of a chat and a cup of coffee your treat at the coffee shop between stops. This will allow you to squeeze in one-on-one time with a friend while still getting everyone accomplished on your to-do list. If you are a dedicated fitness devotee, target a potential friend at the fitness center and strike up a conversation as you strategically climb on the machine beside her.

Use Technology to Enhance Closeness

One woman I know was devastated when her “best grown-up friend,” as she termed it, had to relocate to another city. They had started out as neighborhood walking buddies, but as they spent several years increasing their level of self-disclosure on their walks, their surface friendship had intensified into best friendship. Although separated by hundreds of miles, their mutual friendship and their commitment to daily walks combined to give them the perfect opportunity to stay in touch through continued daily chats—each evening, they would head out for their walks with their headphones on and their cellphones in their pockets and enjoy a long phone conversation as they walked. She delights in telling people that she and her best friend still enjoy their daily walks together regardless of the geographical distance between them.

For many women, friendship is a very natural thing—women are socially focused by nature, as a rule. We need a sense of belonging and we like to feel connected to others. Finding ways to deepen relationships requires two important ingredients—one, a woman must feel comfortable and safe in self-disclosing and opening up to another; secondly, a woman must feel that the potential relationship is worth the investment. If these two ingredients are in place, then the next step is simply to open up a space to allow the bond to deepen. Whether this is through text messages, phone calls, emails, face-to-face walking into work from the parking lot, at the coffee shop, at the gym on the treadmill, or on a double date, the forging of the relationship can begin.

Starting Slow and Building Momentum

We have all had the experience of a new acquaintance or new friend who provides “too much information” before the relationship really warrants deep, personal disclosures. We all seem to have a feel for how fast a relationship should move regarding self-disclosure. Being mindful of matching the speed of a new friend, providing casual opportunities to share time together, and being willing to make the first move to forge a closer relationship can open the door to a beautiful, lasting authentic friendship.

“Silver or Gold,” Good Friends are to be Treasured

Friends are the jewels among the dross of the daily grind of life. They are to be valued and enjoyed—not left on a shelf gathering dust. A friendship that is not exercised and stretched will likely become brittle and be more likely to break. The investment we make in friends—both those who provide instrumental or emotional support—is well worth the time involved in building and maintaining these relationships. There is no price that can be placed on the security of knowing that people will be there for you when you just don’t feel up to being there for yourself.


Do You Count Your Siblings as Friends or Enemies?

If your friends (or enemies) also include your siblings, please share your story with me via this link: Data is being collected for an upcoming research project addressing the ways that adult sibling relationships can change over time.