As we pass through major milestones, our lives change – it’s only natural that our friendships change over the course of time. The key to making friendships last? Hard work. You have to show up and make an effort. Technology (apps like Hey! Vina especially) makes it easier for us to create and strengthen our friendships, but it still takes effort to keep a friendship alive.
Let’s chat about the seven ages of friendship, as recently described by the Daily Mail and how we can continue making our friendships stronger, despite the curveballs life throws at us.
You begin making friends when you’re younger, of course, due to being in school or through playdates your parents set up for you. Those younger, formative years of friendship teach you early on how to be empathetic, compassionate, and accepting.
When you leave school and enter the workforce, you begin to make friends outside of your core age group. Lean on your existing friendships to create new ones and expand your circle by using technology to help you along. Facebook is a great way to extend your network, but be careful to not just be an online friend though. Author of Wired to Connect and psychiatrist Dr. Amy Banks recommends checking in with your new pals offline to cultivate those friendships. “If you neglect friendship at any stage in life, you will feel less competent when you meet new people,” she warns.
The next age of friendship involves coupling. You and your friends begin to pair off with their newfound loves and leave their single pals in the dust. It happens, but we can avoid neglecting our friendships during this period by being cognizant of our single friends’ feelings.
Our very own founder and CEO of Vina, Olivia Poole, told the Daily Mail “When I was single, I used to find that sometimes my friends wouldn’t invite me, perceiving the gathering as a ‘couple thing’ even though I wouldn’t have minded.” There you go – extend that invite anyway, babe! Another suggestion: use Hey! Vina and set up dates with new pals. Even if you’re in a committed relationship, it’s important to date your friends too!
Now come the babies (for some, anyway) and the balancing. When you’re in a friendship with someone who’s beginning their journey into parenthood, it can be hard to continue nurturing that relationship. I am one of the only gals out of my friends who doesn’t have children, but that doesn’t change how I feel about my friend. I’m understanding of their new busy life and I make sure to carve out time when their schedule allows. Of course, it’s helpful when they keep my schedule in mind, too, as work tends to be my baby. Set a quick coffee date that is kid-friendly or an evening out if your schedules allow. Just don’t lose touch – sometimes, that’s the thread that keeps your friendship strong if you can’t see each other all the time like you used to.
When the kids are grown and off to make their own way in the world, you may be with that empty nest feeling. You may have lost touch with old friends and are struggling to make new ones in your newfound free time. Irene Levine, a professor of psychology at New York University’s School of Medicine, shares in her experience: “The willingness to share confidences and form intimate friendships is more likely to be a matter of personality than age. Many women grow more confident with age and are open to new friendships.” Therefore, be open to meet new people that fill different needs and remember, it can take time to build up friendships with someone new – just like at any age, you have to take your time to get to know someone.
Finally, the age we’re all waiting for: retirement! You may have grandchildren by this time, or you may be traveling the world. Chances are you’ve moved to a new place in your life so your old friends may not be around and it’s harder than ever to keep in touch. The nice thing about this age is you have free time to spend doing things you love. Sign up to volunteer somewhere or take a class to learn something new. If you’re on a fixed budget, schedule coffee dates with friends, new and old, or take a walk in a park while you chat with each other about your lives.
(Featured Image via Payton Sartain)
Friendships, just like us, evolve over time. You have to put the work into keeping the bond strong. What stage are you in, Vina? Share with us how you maintain your existing and cultivate new friendships in the comments below!