Keeping Friendships Alive
As a kid, a friend was that special someone who shared her lunch with you, passed you top-secret notes and played with you at recess. In high school, a friend was that shoulder to cry on, to share laughs, and to get into trouble with. As adults, friends are those people that we play phone tag with and see a few times a year. The sad thing about adults is that we become so consumed with our own lives that friendships often get neglected and become a mere afterthought only once we have finished with our work and family obligations.
Socializing and having a supportive circle of people who care about you is not only good for you emotionally, strong friendships also provide health benefits. In a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health by Flinders University, Australia, results showed that after studying 1,500 seniors over the age of 70, those with the strongest connections to friends and acquaintances were 22% less likely to die after other factors were adjusted for. Surprisingly, relationships with family and children did not have much impact on longevity.
This probably has something to do with the fact that we get to choose our friends (and they, us). But if you’re anything like me and have been a bit absent on the friend social scene, now is the perfect time to re-connect with those long-lost friends, especially as the holidays are just around the corner.
Real friends will understand that it’s often difficult to keep in touch. The beauty of these types of relationships is that you can pick up where you left off—even if it’s months down the road, and feel like nothing has changed. But still, keeping a friendship alive takes some work.
- Make time. We schedule in dentist appointments and car tune-ups, so why not set aside a block of dedicated time each week to keep in touch with friends. Make an effort to phone that friend you haven’t seen in months or get together for coffee.
- Use technology. Many people focus on the negative impacts of social networking sites, but they actually provide an easy way to keep in touch with your real world friends—especially those who have moved away. An application such as Skype is also great for getting some virtual face-to-face time.
- Make a special effort. If a friend’s birthday is coming up, try making her feel special and appreciated by a simple gesture such as dropping off a cupcake at her office. Or use good old snail mail to send a handwritten note to a friend to let her know you value the friendship.
- Know who your real friends are. As bad as it sounds, sometimes we can’t keep in touch with every single person we consider to be a friend; occasionally we have to focus on those who are nearest and dearest to us over spending time with a casual friend.
Making New Friends
As time goes on and we change, our circle of friends also changes and often gets smaller. This is why it’s so important to make new friends. School once provided the perfect opportunity to buddy up; making new friends as adults can be a bit trickier.
- Meet others with similar interests. Join a book club or a sports league if you are the athletic type. Making new friends is a lot easier if you have some common ground. There are plenty of websites that facilitate meetings with people of similar interests such as MeetUp.com.
- Organize a get-together with your old friends but ask each one to bring along a new friend. Having mutual friends is often a good starting point for budding relationships.
- Put yourself out there. Make an effort to say hi to someone new at the gym, or at a party. That stranger could become one of your closest buds.
Even if you are the solitary type, it’s still a good idea to keep in touch with one or two of your closest friends. People are social creatures after all.
Fung, T. (2010, November 24). Keeping Friendships Alive, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, April 6 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/theunlockedlife/2010/11/keeping-friendships-alive