Grow Up, Then Grow Old Together
Do you still hang out with some of the same people you’ve known since childhood? Are you actively engaged in each other’s lives? Did you fall out of touch at first, but then reconnect via Facebook or other social media? No matter what your story, maintaining childhood friendships well into adulthood is one of the greatest gifts life can offer. It can also be one of the hardest relationships to maintain.
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There’s nothing like being friends with someone you trust implicitly, and often that trust is established after years, if not decades of friendship; they’ve been with you every step of the way, from your youthful indiscretions to the trials and tribulations of adulting. If you value that kind of friendship, you’ll want to make it last. Here’s how to make those childhood friendships go the distance.
Find Time for Them
It sounds simple, but it’s one of the most challenging aspects of sustaining an active friendship. As we get older we have more and more responsibilities, and less and less free time. Finding time outside of work and family is quite a feat, and if you have a significant other, they’re usually your priority when you have free time. But in order to maintain your childhood friendships, you must be proactive about making time and space in your life for them. Don’t only comment on their Facebook posts or like photos once a week. Send them a private message. Call them. Invite them out and ask how they’re doing. Be generous with your time whenever possible and show them you’re still invested.
Don’t Be Clingy and Jealous
Part of what makes staying in touch so complex is how you behave when you’re out of touch. Childhood Friendships ebb and flow, meaning sometimes you’ll see each other frequently, while other times your get-togethers will be few and far between. That’s okay. Here’s what not to do:
- Don’t make snide comments like “Hi Stranger,” when you finally get to see them. You will only drive them away if you make them feel guilty for not spending enough time with you.
- Don’t complain if they hang out with other people. Jealousy will only send them running, like it does with any other relationship. People need space to form new friendships and they don’t want to be criticized for having other friends.
- Don’t make them feel guilty for saying no to you. If they say they don’t want to go out, appreciate their honesty. They aren’t pretending to be sick or lying about something; they’re telling you the truth. We all need time to recuperate and be alone. Respect their feelings.
Introduce Them to Your Other Friends
Try not to compartmentalize your friends. Don’t keep your childhood friendships and your newer friendships apart. Introduce your friends to each other, invite them out to different events and have some great conversations over a drink or a meal. These people would probably never meet if it weren’t for you, and who knows what other relationships may form from these gatherings. Your childhood friends will feel safe and secure in your adult life if they get to interact with your new friends.
Don’t Make Them a Last Resort
Don’t keep a childhood friend in your life as a last resort for those times when you have no one else to hang out with. Keep them in your life because you love their company and want to know how they’re doing. If you only reach out to them when you have nothing better to do, they’re going to know it. If you want to have lasting childhood friendships, know that the friendship goes both ways—you’re both there for each other, even when it’s not convenient. And when you are together, make sure you talk about your life as much as you listen to them talk about theirs.
Reach Out to Them
Reach out to your childhood friends and make plans. If you only see them when they reach out to you, you need to reevaluate how invested you are in them. Don’t desperately hold on to someone if you’re not actively cultivating the friendship. If you aren’t willing to put effort into maintaining your childhood friendships, don’t!
Growing Apart is Natural
Sometimes it’s natural to grow apart for a while, but people will come back into your life if they’re meant to. But if they don’t, don’t consider the friendship a failure. Not all friendships are lifelong. Sometimes people come into our lives for certain periods of time and then drift away, and that’s okay. At least you have the memories to enjoy. However, if your childhood friendships mean the world to you, show it! Be proactive. Let someone know you’re thinking about them. They will appreciate knowing they haven’t been forgotten.