Half of my friends are happily married, and i could not be more happy and proud of them. I remember this time last year i was preparing for the wedding of my 2 best friends. I mean we all grew up together, went to the same school together and we have done so many things together. Getting married is amazing and when it is my turn to get married my friends will turn up for me. However there is this school of thought (don’t know who invented or started it) that single friends are to cut off from their married friends & vice versa , also that newly weds are not on the same level with new parents. Oh come on now, really!!! How can anyone say because my friends are married, pregnant or single i shouldn’t speak or stay friends with them again. I think this school of thought is total BS. I love all my friends, and we still communicate about any and everything, there may be some boundaries or limits as some stages calls for more responsilbiities, but that doesn’t mean you should stop speaking to a friend because she got married or is a new mom. I think the most important thing about maintaining this kind of friendship is understanding. You need to understand the new life stages of all your friendships.
Heres how to maintain your friendship when you’re in different life stages.
- Remember What Brought You Together
It probably goes without saying, but remembering why you became friends in the first place goes a long way toward making your friendship last. Talking about the history you have together, like your inside jokes and past experiences, can help you feel close when you’re in different places and might not be able to see each other as often as you’d like. That’s why finding opportunities to reminisce, laugh, and even cringe about old stories and memories is so important!
- Make Time For New Memories
It’s always fun to remember the past but any relationship, including a friendship, won’t last unless you set aside time to make new memories. Trying out a new activity together a great way to stay up-to-date on each other’s lives while getting in some much needed leisure time. Being spontaneous probably wont work as well as it used to, so planning ahead helps make sure that your time together doesn’t get sidelined by other commitments or responsibilities. Travel if you have to. (I can’t wait to see some of my friends in other cities this summer) Be vulnerable. Talk about your struggles, celebrate your successes, and share your hopes for the future. Authenticity will bridge the gap between your different situations in life. Of course, making new memories isn’t just about doing things together, although that certainly helps. It’s also about having meaningful conversations that bring you closer together. Social media definitely makes it easier to stay in touch (especially for long-distance friendships).
- Label Your Limits
Finding time to connect isn’t the only issue. There are plenty of other obstacles that make it difficult to maintain a friendship when you’re in different life stages. Maybe one of you has kids to juggle while the other is balancing regular travel for work. It’s also more than likely that finances will influence the kinds of activities you’re able to do together or even how often you’re able to see each other. While it helps to be accommodating and flexible, it’s equally important to be upfront about how much you’re realistically able to bend and to be realistic about what you can expect from your friend. Not only is this the starting point for finding solutions or compromises (like outings that are less expensive), it helps avoid misunderstandings or conflicts (like a friend assuming you don’t want to see them when you turn down dinner plans because finances are tight). It also never hurts to take initiative and suggest an idea or alternative that takes your friend’s situation into account. This kind of thoughtfulness is often deeply appreciated.
- Avoid Social Comparisons
We’ve all compared ourselves to our friends from time to time. But when you’re in a different life stage, it’s possible to get carried away with trying to determine who is doing “better” or who seems further ahead. This is especially true when you’re the friend who feels behind. As uncomfortable as it is, jealousy is a completely normal reaction. However, getting caught up in social comparisons can get in the way of your friendship and take away from the life stage you’re actually going through. Instead of noticing all the ways you feel behind or being overly self-critical, remember that everyone deals with their share of ups and downs. You never really know what someone is struggling with, even a close friend. And you don’t know how challenging an experience (even a positive or welcome one) can be until you’ve gone through it yourself.
- Change Your Perspective
If you’re feeling upset about how hard it is to keep a friendship going when you’re in different places, it can help to focus on the advantages of your current life stage. Like having the flexibility to do what you want and the ability to be spontaneous. Tweaking your take on the situation as a whole is another option. As hard as it is, going through this can sometimes be helpful, in that it gives you a glimpse of a different life stage. Whether you’re thinking about getting married, accepting a promotion, or having a child, watching a friend go through a similar experience can sometimes help you decide whether it’s something you’re ready for.
- Make New Friends (and keep the old!)
Ultimately, it’s really common and (even expected) that friendships will change or drift as we go through transitions in life. And so in addition to adjusting the terms of your old friendship (like what you talk about or the kinds of activities you’re able do together), you might decide to branch out and make new friends who are in a similar stage as you (like single friends, new mom friends, or work friends). Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to give up on your old friendships! It also doesn’t mean that you’ve done something wrong or that you’re being a “bad” friend. Staying friends when you’re in different life stages or reach milestones at different times isn’t easy. That’s why there’s something really special about those long-term friendships that last with the help of a little renegotiating and a lot of patience and understanding!