Lifestyles & relationships: how to maintain lifelong friendships

Has it been a month or more since you’ve talked to your oldest friend? You know who I’m talking about-- the person that you shared all of your secrets with in high school, the honor attendant at your wedding.

If you’re like most busy adults, you may find that keeping in touch with old friends is kind of like pulling teeth-- especially if you’re the one doing all of the calling! Somewhere amidst the many lifestyle changes that come with adult life, it’s easy to leave your old friendships on the back burner.

Friendships need nurturing or they will die. Busy lifestyles-- marriage, divorce, career, and children— can all take a toll on your friendships. But did you know that studies have shown that people who enjoy long term friendships live longer, happier lives? So why do many of us spend so little time with our old friends?

If you’re finding that you’re spending more time with your coworkers and random neighbors than you are with your childhood friends, why not take the steps to rejuvenate some of your old friendships?

But we’re Just Not Close Anymore!

Do you feel that you and your friend have grown apart? Maybe you are married with children and your friend is still single, so you feel that you have nothing in common. Or perhaps you’re both married and your husbands don’t like each other. Whatever the case may be, if the friendship was worthwhile at one time it deserves to be renewed. You can do things together that don’t involve your children or husbands. After all, the two of you are the friends-- there’s no need to force the friendship on others!

Here are some steps to help you maintain lifelong friendships:

-- Ever since the inception of e-mail, keeping in touch with old pals has never been easier. If you and your friend no longer live near each other, e-mail can be the first step in communicating on a regular basis. Send daily e-mails or set up a weekly time to instant message each other while you’re online.

-- Remember important dates like birthdays and anniversaries, even if your friend doesn’t. Don’t get upset if you’re friend constantly forgets your birthday-- some people are just better at remembering special occasions than others. Make your friend feel special by sending a card or an email greeting on his or her special days.

-- Don’t hold a grudge. It’s easy to get disgruntled if you find that you’re the one that’s initiating all of the calling and e-mailing. Unless your friend is giving you serious signals that he or she no longer wants to remain friends, just take it with a grain of salt. Maybe your friend feels that you are busy with your family and doesn’t want to call at an inopportune time. Or maybe he or she just relies on you to keep the lines of communication open. You just may be the more thoughtful of the two of you-- and there’s nothing wrong with that!

-- Apologize. If you and your friend have a falling out, don’t let it fester. Try to keep the lines of communication open and apologize even if you don’t completely feel that you were in the wrong. If you let a silly argument go unsettled for too long, it can turn into a full blown feud. Is it really worth it?

-- Make a date with your friend. Just as you make a date with your significant other, make a date with your friend. If you live within driving distance of one another, meet once a month for lunch, dinner, or a movie.

-- Start a book club-- even if by phone or email. Just because your friend lives in Pennsylvania and you live in California doesn’t mean you can’t do fun things together! Start a book club and meet online or via phone to discuss the book.

-- Have a sleepover! If you’re lucky enough to still live near your old friend, arrange to have a sleepover just like old times. Camp out downstairs away from your kids and pull out the old yearbooks, do each other’s nails, eat fattening snacks and have a good time reminiscing.

-- Plan a reunion. If your friends are spread out all over the map, why not arrange a yearly reunion of the old gang? Plan to have it at someone’s house or at a park in your old hometown. It will be a fun affair that you can bring your whole family to. You may even find that your kids all become friends as well!

--Don’t beat a dead horse. Unfortunately, there are times when old friends simply outgrow each other. If you’re a Harvard MBA and your friend is doing time in the county prison, you really may not have much in common any more. Try to cherish the friendship for what it was and remind yourself that you have both moved on.

Finally, if you have truly lost touch with an old friend and want to rekindle the friendship, try contacting one of their relatives or old neighbors to see if you can get information on their whereabouts. You may be just an e-mail or a phone call away from talking to a long lost old friend!


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