Maintaining Your Childhood Friendships
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, or did you fall out of touch at first, then reconnected via social media? No matter what your story, maintaining childhood friendships that survive into adulthood are some of the greatest gifts life can offer. They can also be some of the hardest relationships to maintain, but 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 on Instagram 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.
Always Assume the Best
As you and your friends move into different phases of life, finding time to actually spend time together can be challenging. Plans can fall through at the last minute because of unforeseen emergencies, family or work issues, and life in general. When these things happen, don’t hold it against your friend. You’ve known each other for a long time, you care about each other; don’t assume they’re blowing you off because they don’t want to see you, because that’s probably not what’s happening. Always assume the best about each other, because until they prove you wrong, you have nothing to lose.
One of the beauties of life is that we can remain friends with people throughout our lives who have extremely different paths and goals from us. For example, there aren’t any rules saying that people who want children can’t remain lifelong friends with those who don’t, and vice versa. And if you’ve grown up together, it’s not like you both don’t know where your interests already lie. If you want to maintain that friendship though, you need to actually be interested in what’s happening in your friends’ lives. When you call, text, or meet up, don’t just ask about their lives, actually listen to what they’re telling you. Friends share a special connection with each other, and part of that connection involves sharing important things with those we love. Staying interested in your friends and listening to what they tell you is an easy way to maintain deep, long lasting friendship.
Being honest with your friends isn’t just the best policy, it’s a responsibility. It’s our friends we’ve held onto since childhood who will call us out when we’re not acting our best. They’re not trying to be cruel; they’re holding us to the standard they already know we want to be held to. Honesty is a mark of true, deep friendship, which is why it cuts so deeply when we discover that a friend hasn’t been honest.
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.
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.
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