Some people are worth melting for…– Olaf, Frozen
Speaking frankly, not all friendships will last through to adulthood. Friends you had growing up stand a higher chance of fading away! This fading process does not mean the relationship ended on bad terms or that you can never be friends again. Adulthood is more time consuming than you may realize.
Reasons Friendships Fade Away
- Interest Changes: As we grow up; from infancy to adulthood, our interest change. In the beginning we are just curious children roaming around with no desire to fixate on specific topics. We want to know everything! As we grow into adults, we begin to zone in on specific areas we think are important to our lives. Old friends begin to fade away as we make new friends that are currently sharing the same types of interest.
- Physical Distance: After high school, you might leave to college or leave for a job. If you do not specifically leave, your closest friends might. Distance creates strain in any type of relationships, but friendships definitely suffer. The ability to socialize and be in close proximity with others grows this close bond; while the bond you might have had once upon a time with someone further away begins to weaken.
- Time Restraints: Adulthood requires a lot of time. There are 24 hours in a day. If you work a minimum 8 hours, obtain the full 8 hours of sleep, and estimate about 3 hours of basic hygiene and commuting time, you are left with 5 hours. Now put your priorities in order; kids, spouse, family, self-care, etc. Where is the time for your friends?
Friendship in Your Lives
I was reading this article called College Friendships vs. High School Friendships that has some really good insights on the reasons High School Friendships fade. To highlight the main concept, when you go off to college, you are starting fresh. College is a time to be the person you want to be without others attempting to guide your path for you. Friendships you make in college are beginning this same journey and you begin to bond and grow with them instead of past friendships that are not in proximity.
Why Should I Care?
All relationships require routine maintenance; even friendships. Fading friendships do happen, but they are a choice in my opinion. Psychology Today shared an article called Maintaining Friendships in Adulthood that lists some great ways to accomplish this!
- Be Generous: Generosity looks different to different people. Since this is specifically about you and your friends, just do what feels right to you. A good friend of mine randomly sent me $5 dollars and her message stated, “Please enjoy a cup of tea on me!” We live roughly 3 hours away from each other and we do not get to talk much, but the gesture was so thoughtful and meaningful. It was a small sign that I was on her mind and that our relationship matters.
- Set Aside Time: I was on the phone with another one of my good friends and she asked me “How do you find the time to catch up with everyone?” My answer: By taking advantage of my time. It takes me about 10 minutes to drive to class from work, so instead of listening to music, I phone a friend. On my drive home after class, I call a different friend. With existing technology, I can easily hold a conversation with a friend while I perform household chores or make dinner. Taking advantage of the time I have!
- Be Present: My friends know that if they truly needed me, they would have my undivided attention. It cost nothing to take 10 minutes to sit down and be there for a person. There is nothing more important.
- “Thinking of you”: During this time of COVID-19, my friends and I have been asking questions of the day. It keeps us connected and makes it clear that we are always thinking about each other. It’s a great way to stay in touch regardless of distance.
- Listen: All relationships require the skill of listening. This ties directly with being present.
- Make it a Priority: I think the article says its best “If we do not prioritize our friendships, nobody else will.”
If you have started to recognize the fading of friendships, realize that it is a choice. If it fades away and you do not realize it, then maybe that friendship was meant to fade. But if you feel discomfort or sadness about a friendship that feels weaker than before, take the opportunity to use one or more of the above actions to maintain the relationship!
Personally, I have watched friendships fade and decided that it was okay. But there are some friendships I am not willing to watch go away. They are no longer friends but family. So, I continue to maintain these relationships and be an active participant in my friends lives.
All it takes is a little effort.