My BFF and I Have Figured out How to Make Modern Friendship Work


It's not what it used to be, but it works

by Kelsey Hopson-Shiller, Contributor

two women riding a bike together

My friend Rebecca called me last week. Among other things, she was calling to talk about friendship, and how, recently, she’s been feeling like it gets harder as we get older. Not only does it get harder to make friends, but relationships with existing friends get more challenging as well. I couldn’t agree with her more. As we get older, as we get partnered, and as some of us become parents, one of our most important support systems—our friends—becomes complicated, as does building any sort of community.

We get so many messages about the kinds of communities we should be trying to build. There is pressure to “find our tribe,” and usually that tribe is defined as people who are just like us. It’s like the world is one big Meetup group where we’re all expected to fit within certain parameters—thirtyish, likes dogs and cake, does not like running, no kids (yet). But when I consider the people who bring the most to my life, while some commonalities may have brought us together, it’s the ways we’re different that keep things interesting and enriching. 

FRIENDSHIP BY CONVENIENTLY PLACED CROSSWALK

Rebecca and I met in college and eventually lived across the street from one another in two houses connected by a conveniently placed crosswalk. Our friendship flourished when it started ten years ago, in part because we had ample amounts of two things that are in shorter supply once we get older, start working, and start families—free time and intimacy. We saw each other almost everyday. Sometimes we’d make plans for a structured activity, but more often she’d be at my house to share whatever someone was making for dinner, or I’d be watching Grey’s Anatomy at hers. Our lives, our experiences, our priorities—and our schedules—were in complementary sync. After we graduated, we had to renegotiate the terms of our relationship, going from our frivolity soaked student lives, to somewhat responsible adulthood.

As I get chronologically farther from my early twenties and the ease and critical importance of my friendships then, these non-familial, non-romantic relationships get harder to manage. There is the question of distance—most of my best friends are spread around. Rebecca and I discussed this last week as well, from Vancouver and Denver, respectively. Unlike moving to be closer to family or for a romantic relationship, or for a job opportunity for yourself or a spouse, moving to be closer to good friends is not a thing that is societally encouraged, or even really considered. Now that I’m a responsible married adult (ha), I don’t see any of my friends everyday. And that’s okay; they’ve got their commitments, and I’ve got mine. However the lack of that casual, daily contact does change the relationships I have with them, and I miss the closeness that used to engender.

FRIENDSHIP BY WITTY STATUS UPDATE

And then there is Facebook. Which seems like it should help the situation, but—and this has been widely documented—seems to do the opposite. There is pressure to polish the image we share on social media, which is in stark contrast to the rewards of IRL friendship: people who love us, warts and all. It also creates the illusion that we are connected to each other all the time, which can lead to some complacency in actually making time for real connection. I met this stunningly awesome girl when I was in grad school—she’s smart and profane and funny as all get out. I’d love to be friends. And yet, I’ve never hung out with her socially. I get my fix of her with her Facebook updates that showcase her brilliance, and then I’m tongue tied when I meet up with her randomly and professionally. Because what can I say? “I know so much about your life… and I don’t actually know you at all”? Which is a shame, and I can’t help feeling like I would have made more of an effort if the only access I had to her was face to face.

OUR OVER-SCHEDULED LIVES

I also have less free time overall, and that which I do have is divided differently. I want a little time to myself, occasionally. My time for other people is then primarily dedicated to my family, since my wife likes me and wants to spend time with me. Because it’s rare, friend time is often dedicated to activities and not to casually sharing each others’ lives like when we were younger. And since time is precious, sometimes it’s a challenge to make the effort to schedule a friend date with a new colleague, or another couple we met at a dinner party—even though they’re fabulous—because it’s too early to tell if these new people are going to be worth the investment. One fantastic repercussion of age is that I’ve had some of my close friends for twenty years now, and it’s hard to compare delightful new friends to the comfort of someone who’s loved me for my whole life. And the culture we currently inhabit, at least here in the urban sections of the United States, has dropped a lot of the emphasis we once had on community for community’s sake. Maybe it’s because we do have that sense of ever-present connection via our screens that makes it feel like part of “unplugging” is a full disconnection from everyone outside of our homes when we do get some downtime.

And, compared to a few of my friends, I have one less time consuming responsibility: I am not a parent yet. An increasing proportion of my people are. While all of them experience it differently, they all say that parenthood has impacted their friendships profoundly—both with fellow parenting, and currently child-free friends. My friend Maggie talked about the availability constraints. She said, “We, frankly, don’t see our friends nearly enough anymore. We see our friends who have kids more often than those who don’t. Friends without kids are liable to suggest doing things that (innocently and unbeknownst to them) make me cringe at the thought of doing with my kids… I pretty much always end up wishing I’d just invited people over to my house.” Which then, makes her feel guilty: “There’s definitely a guilt piece around asking people who want, say, a fun night on the town to sit around at my house and cater to the needs of me and my kids.” Although logistics seem to be easier when parents make plans with other parent friends, there are still pitfalls. My pal, Jeanette, put it this way: “You plan mom’s night out to get away from said kids, but end up talking about them the whole time. Or you only see them at functions that exist because of the kids.”

LET’S START BY TALKING (AND TALKING, AND TALKING)

Once I started thinking about friendship, I couldn’t stop talking to other people about it. I was surprised how many of them mentioned feeling lonely in their friendships these days, for some or all of the reasons above. For me, it’s more a sense of melancholy. The change has not been a sudden one; it’s been subtle and gradual, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t leave a void. I wouldn’t trade my life now, and being able to make my friends my first priority again would involve some rewinding. But there is depth and reward in the current incarnation of those relationships as well. For one, the scarcity makes time spent with friends even more valuable—a treat I write delightedly into my calendar in hot pink pen so that it stands out among the staffings and the errands. I also enjoy the way the friendships I have hung onto have deepened and changed over time, whether it’s planning trips to visit far-flung loved ones, or upping my snail mail game. There’s something very satisfying about realizing that, occasionally, if you met a particular childhood friend today, you like the person she grew into so much that you’d scheme a way to ask her to happy hour tomorrow. I love meeting my friends’ children and watching friends become parents. I am grateful to them for sharing that with me, for letting me bounce their babies in airports, and teach their little ones Go Fish. It’s a different kind of fun, for a different kind of friendship, and just like Rebecca’s and my standing date to watch Meredith and McDreamy, it won’t last forever.

So we adapt. And since nothing stays the same, it’s entirely possible that in another ten years, the babies will be older, the marriages will mature, and our friendships will be better nurtured by the increased time and energy we have to give them. Until then, we live in the age of FaceTime, after work happy hours, and playing peek-a-boo in backyards while talking over the head of a little, shrouded, breastfeeder. And Rebecca and I will continue to shoe shop over picture texts, and make imaginary lunch dates, until we’re lucky enough to meet in person again.

This post was originally published on APW in 2015.

Kelsey Hopson-Shiller

Kelsey lives in Los Angeles, CA. with her wife, Julie, a nice Jewish girl from New Jersey. They have too many pets for a one bedroom apartment. Kelsey really likes reading books in the sunshine, as well as hunting for donuts and superior happy hours in their new neighborhood.

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  • Amy March

    Just want to put in a plug for my favorite friendship “hack”: talking on the phone. Like, out loud. I’m always stunned when people say they never speak on the phone to friends. Nearby ones sure but long distance? Pick up the phone once a quarter and speak to them. Even if you usually just text and gchat and email etc, it’s such a gift to be able to hear people’s voices across oceans. It makes me sad that people are not using it.

    • Lisa

      One of the things I love about my 30 minute walk to work is that it gives me the opportunity to randomly dial friends and catch up with their lives. I might call my sisters or mother on a weekly basis, but I try to throw some college friends into the mix at least once every month or two to check in with them.

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    • Sara

      I have one friend and my brother that I call on my commute home. We’re all car talkers, so I enjoy calling them and catching up in 30 minutes. My friend puts her baby on the phone and lets him babble to me or just puts me on speaker so I can talk to her husband.
      My college roommates and I however, hate talking on the phone. I send the two of them long winding emails and cc them both, we have long group threads on text and then make plans to meet up once or twice a year. They both have wonky schedules and live an hour ahead anyway so I never catch them on the drive home. When I manage to catch them on the phone, we talk for like 2 hours, but its super super rare.

    • GotMarried!

      My best friend and I talk every morning while we drive separately to work. Its been 5 years since we graduated Law School and moved to different states and voice calls are now the lifeblood of our friendship.

    • K.

      My best friend and I try our best to implement what we call “coffee chats.” So it’s a phone call that lasts about the length of our coffee breaks (10-15 minutes) where we either quickly catch up or chat about our latest texting topic du jour. We realized we were both avoiding phone calls with each other because they ended up being 2+ hours each time and, while great, neither of us actually has time for that.

      It’s had varying levels of success in different time periods, but overall it’s awesome and will be especially great once my kid is here (and I’ve promised I won’t only talk about said kid on those calls either…most of the time.)

    • sofar

      Agreed! I have four “best” friends, none of which live near me. And we talk on the phone. Usually one long conversation roughly every couple months. And when we ARE lucky enough to meet in person, we don’t have to go through a huge catch-up phase because we’ve already been keeping up with each other’s lives.

    • savannnah

      Yes. My 30 min commute in the morning and afternoons are strictly reserved for phone calls. I don’t live anywhere near any of my good friends and this is how we manage the distance. Some friends call at 7 am and some call at 5pm and we talk about important things and also about mundane things.

    • Eenie

      My best friend is long distance and we text daily. Every so often we drink wine and FaceTime/Skype. It’s great fun. Not often, but a couple times a year.

    • EF

      i want to add: just use your goddamn data and use whatsapp and chat with those long distance international friends too. my bff and i both increased our data plans so we could chat during walks or lunch or whatever, from thousands of miles away, and it’s been so so so rewarding. also, whatsapp has super clear connections, unlike skype!

    • honeycomehome

      Also, nothing makes me feel more like I’m back in high school IN A GOOD WAY than chatting for an hour on the phone with a high school bestie. It’s a hit of nostalgia plus a hit of friendship.

    • LadyJanee

      I absolutely abhor talking on the phone. Even with my own family. It causes me a lot of anxiety and I feel under so much pressure to keep the conversation flowing because sitting in silence on the phone is so awkward for me. A lot of my friends have also said they don’t like talking on the phone so I feel like if I call them I’m inconveniencing them. This thread is making me want to be better at it though, it would be great to be able to maintain friendships this way.

      • I’m with you. From the point where I was old enough to have friends I didn’t see every day (or that my parents were in charge of me seeing) it’s mostly been email and online. And I’m 30, so we’re talking two decades ago here, when you can to choose between going online or using the phone, because you couldn’t do both at once. These days I don’t have phone numbers for most of my friends, and for those that I do it’s usually for things like music festivals and events where we might need to call each other to find each other. I think online can work fine as long as you are also making space for face to face meetings – telephone can sub for face to face for a while where it’s just not possible to meet up, but it’s not the same.

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  • ruth

    This post really hit home to me. In my 20s my best friend was my soul mate – we were insanely close. Now that I’m in my 30s and happily married, I still wish we had that special friendship – but we don’t, and I don’t know what to do about it. My best friend suffers from major depression, which has gotten worse over the years, forcing her to move back in with her parents out of state. Since then she’s stopped answering calls, texts, emails, letters. I’ve called her probably hundreds of times, called her parents, sent letters and care packages. No response. Its not her fault. She has a disease. My first thought when she stopped responding to all communication was to panic that she was dead. But a mutual friend who lived in the area drove to her parents house and saw that she was ok, if not OK. That friend found all of my letters unopened in a pile on her dresser. I don’t know what to do – I love her and I worry about her, but I can’t make her talk to me if she’s unwilling or unable. We haven’t spoken in almost 3 years. I still send her birthday and holiday cards and whenever a new one of my books is published I send her a copy; but at this point i feel like I’m putting notes in bottles and throwing them out to sea. I don’t know if I should keep trying to get through to her, or just accept that whether intended or not she’s no longer able to be a part of my life. It doesn’t feel like losing a friend – it feels like losing a spouse or a sister. But do i keep fighting for our friendship, or is it time to let her go?

    • Lisa

      If it’s not wounding you too much emotionally to keep up with the birthday and holiday cards, then I would reduce my contact attempts to only those. That way she knows that you’re still open to communication if/when she’s ready, but you’re not investing so much of yourself.

      Three years in though sounds like a long time to be dealing with this acute of depression with no periods of re-surfacing. This might be her new normal, and it might be time to let her go if you’re ready for that.

    • She’s keeping them all, but she’s not opening them, and that suggests to me they’ve been sucked into the disease and become something to be angry with herself over. She wants to still be your friend, but she doesn’t feel able to handle friendship right now (she may feel she doesn’t deserve it). You don’t want to make her feel worse, but you do want her to know you’re still thinking of her and reaching out to her. I think you may want to explicitly acknowledge that to her – I’m sending you these cards because I still care, and I’m ready when you are to reconnect, but I don’t want to place an obligation on you when you’re fighting this disease.

      • Lisa

        How could she acknowledge that to her friend if the friend isn’t even opening the cards or packages? Write it on the envelope? Send a postcard instead?

        • I think a postcard, a text, or even an ecard (though the friend may not open that either – I know one of my friends with severe depression finds emails harder to deal with than post). Maybe let her parents know to pass it on.

    • Amy March

      Is there a way to do both? Stop fighting because it isn’t working and sounds like it is hurting you and taking a lot of mental energy. But don’t give up entirely- keep sending a birthday and a holiday card and if she reaches out in the future respond warmly.

    • Sara

      I say keep sending her the birthday and holiday cards and your books. Don’t expect a response, but maybe buy a pack of postcards that you think she’d like and send one when you’re thinking of her with a short message like “Love you, thinking of you” so you know she sees the message (the great thing about postcards).
      I would avoid writing actual long letters, or sending packages. She’s either not willing or able to read those now, so I’m not sure its worth the emotional energy.

    • NolaJael

      As someone whose been on the receiving end of unwanted friendship missives, I would recommend dialing it back. She may be in the throws of depression or she might just not be into your friendship any more. Friendship advances that are not reciprocated can come off as needy. You might be sending them as tokens of love and affection, but she might be perceiving them as demands on her time and emotional energy. It’s hard on everyone involved, but it might be time to cool off and let her decide to come to you.

  • Sara

    I have come to the realization lately that I’m more introverted than I thought. I’m still single and live alone, so I do crave some face time with people, but I also get tapped out easily. One or two days a week and I’m great.
    That being said, I have made a real effort to leave my apartment and say yes to things with new people. I joined an aerial studio a few years ago and try to not just go home, but grab a drink or dinner when someone else suggests it. I realized a work friend was always trying to make plans so I reached out to her and made an effort to schedule time with her.
    As for my close friends – they’re scattered around the US, but I do make an effort to text and reach out when I feel like the line is going cold. My high school buddies have a great summer event every year we call Field Day. We meet in our hometown, usually at my friend Joe’s parent’s house, play yard games, grill, drink and lay around in the sun, catching up on life. It is THE BEST.

  • Jenny

    I know Facebook/social media takes its share of beatings in the realm of friendship/connections, and some rightfully so. But I actually feel like I get a lot out of Facebook. It’s not a substitute for face to face talking, but it does remind me to call jane when she posts about having a tough commute, and gives me a way to feel like I’m seeing the little boring everyday stuff that my friends are doing, which is what keeps friendships feeling intimate to me. Oooh I saw that you posted a picture of going to the farmer’s market, what did you make?

    • Sara

      I’ve found it to be a great tool to keeping up with those people I’m not super close to or don’t text with daily. I’ve had to hide a few people, and I know a bunch of friends aren’t on there too, but I don’t mind it.

    • Abby

      I adore Snapchat for this. Because it’s fleeting, it’s a lot easier to share the more mundane parts of your day, like a tasty snack, a rainy day, or even just a grumpy selfie, that you don’t even want to clog a text inbox with.

    • Sarah E

      I agree. I think both Facebook and Instagram help keep me apprised of the mundane stuff, like you said, that normally doesn’t merit enough a mention in a phone call or email. And its the mundane, everyday life stuff that’s a bit more intimate, like Kelsey mentioned with her college buddy

    • emilyg25

      One thing that I adore about Facebook is that it’s made me feel closer to my far-flung extended family, who I really wouldn’t have contact with otherwise. Now I’m excited to have a family reunion this summer with people I haven’t seen in 25 years.

      • Jenny

        Yep, same with high school and college friends for me! I know when people have moved to the other big town in our state and I can look them up when I go there and grab coffee. It’s nice to stay in touch with people from your past who knew you way back when!

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      I definitely keep up at least peripherally with all sorts of people I otherwise would have completely lost track of.

    • CMT

      I have a very good group of friends in a city I used to live in and I don’t think I’d still be part of the group if it weren’t for social media and group texts! They always send me Facebook invites to their BBQs and what not, even though they know I (almost always) can’t attend, but it makes me feel included and I know that they’re still thinking about me. It also makes it a lot easier to just dive right back in when I visit. So, thank god for Instagram!

  • K.

    One of my best friends in the world is moving to my small city this summer, for at least the next 6 years. In so many ways, it’s the best thing ever because I haven’t had a truly close friend in my proximity since college. However, I get so nervous about us building up an unrealistic idea of what our friendship will look like once she’s actually here. We’re both super independent ladies, and we’re both undertaking huge challenges starting this summer (me, parenthood and her, one of the most intense PhD programs in the country).

    There’s definitely the fantasy of having dinner together every week and doing one fun activity together each weekend, but life happens and gets in the way. One of my husband’s best friends happens to be in the same program and there are serious ebbs and flows to how often we see him. Add in a baby? Yeah, it’ll be tough.

    Adulthood and friendships can be so hard, even when the stars happen to align and make it seem like it can be easier, or at least *should* be easier. Obviously, it comes down to communication and figuring out how to make friendships a priority, even when societally (like Kelsey noted) that’s generally not as condoned.

    Part of our wedding vows was honoring our community of choice though, so we just need to make the effort. BUT it’s easier said than done and also will probably look a lot different than how I’m envisioning it in my head right now.

    • NolaJael

      I’d recommend setting up a low key weekly date – like dinner at your place or coffee at a spot half way between you. That way you remove the emotional energy that goes into finding an officially Fun Thing To Do each time you meet. And you don’t have to figure out a time that works more than once a semester as her schedule changes.

      • Lawyerette510

        Yes, I was going to suggest something like this: have a standing thing that is easy. With a baby it might be that she comes to you and picks up take-out on her way, or she comes to you, but you have the food already there. Or meeting for coffee or whatever. The relationships I’ve had the best success at maintaining throughout job/ academic demands and people becoming parents are the ones where we just say yes to doing something, even if that something is mac & cheese out of a box at someone’s house that is way messier than they would normally invite people over for.

    • Amy March

      This sounds wonderful! Why not just embrace it and let yourself be excited? What will be will be whether you enjoy the anticipation or stress about it.

      • K.

        But I fret for a living! Gotta get paid. ;)

    • Sara

      One of my closest friends and I have a standing TV Tuesday date – no dinner, just wine and tv. We have a couple shows we rotate through and some lifetime movies on the dvr, so its a fun thing to do midweek and catch up. And sometimes, its literally an hour show that we watch and I go home. Sometimes its three or four hours because we can’t stop gossiping and we have to keep rewinding.
      But the nice thing is with DVRs, its not set in stone. We’ve actually missed the last two weeks due to other commitments, but we rarely go more than a couple weeks without having a tv date. Its nice to have low key thing that we can both look forward to and have a set time to catch up since she’s a pretty big homebody and doesn’t really do a lot of weekend things.

      • Jenny

        If I were going to write a Best Friend wanted ad, this would be my ideal friend date.

    • MDBethann

      My college roommate (all 4 years!) and I literally live 10 minutes away from each other and have for the last 7 years. Her son is older elementary and my daughter is 2, her family is nearby and mine is not, and we honestly see each other maybe 3-4 times a year. Definitely set realistic expectations – a bi-weekly dinner or maybe a monthly outing without children in tow. Maybe plan to run errands together. You can always build up to doing more, but keeping expectations low will help all of you adjust. She’s going to need time to settle in to her program and get to know her classmates too.

      Heck, even getting together with a mom friend from my prenatal yoga class (with our kids) can be really hard, and the kids are both 2!

  • sofar

    The friends I have kept over the years, well into my 30s are the ones who are realistic — and who understand the nature of friendships will change as life changes. Maybe now we have to hang out in someone’s yard so the kids can run around. Maybe our schedules are so different that our friendship has to exist as a series of texts. Maybe it has to exist as regular lunch dates during the workday.

    The friends I have lost are the ones who have vocally complained that our friendship wasn’t “what it used to be” and refused to adjust it to our current situations.

    • NolaJael

      “The friends I have lost are the ones who have vocally complained that our friendship wasn’t “what it used to be” and refused to adjust it to our current situations.” THIS.

  • NolaJael

    One of the big realizations of my adolescence was that many of my friends’ parents had no friends. None. They might have people at work they were cordial with, but many of them didn’t have any adult friends who they invited to dinner or went to a play with, etc. The only social things they did outside their nuclear families were extended family birthdays (if there was family close by) and kids’ school activities.

    It really made me view my own parents’ friendships in a different light. And their friendships were great for my siblings and me growing up! We got to meet a wide variety of cool people who loved us and watched us grow. And now I have independent adult friendships with many of the same people. I could go back home and go out for lunch with a dozen of my parents’ friends without them and the conversation would be lively and flowing.

  • Jessica

    I’m very fortunate that I have had friends who moved to be closer to me (and other people, and job opportunities). It helps a lot. I’m also not too shy for a Minnesotan introvert, and have made a lot of friends who moved here from out-of-state.

    But, connecting with the friends from college is hugely important. I feel like a puzzle piece who just fits into the group. Our edges may change, but we shift with them as needed. My friend group from college has a massive facebook chat that has been going since graduation–it goes dormant for a few months, then someone has a big life update and we get words of encouragement from the people who saw us while we were still learning to be a fully-fledged human in the world.

    Lately that friend group stepped up when I asked them to send my mom cute photos to get her through chemo, and have all of her chemo sessions in their calendars to do that until it’s done. They’ve sent cards and texts, and check in on me when they have a moment. We’ve gotten together in one physical place about once/year, and looking at those photos it seems I’m at my happiest those weekends.

    I don’t know every detail about their lives like I used to, but it’s so good to know that I can call someone up during a good or bad day and just share with them.

  • Her Lindsayship

    I think my biggest struggle with adult friendship is with my own introversion. I was definitely closer with my old roommates when we lived together and shared every mundane detail of our days with each other, and it’s easy to get a little nostalgic about those days and see them as comfortable and fun – but I also remember feeling anxious in my own home fairly often because there was an expectation that we should always be hanging out together and I sometimes just wanted to be alone. I have some social anxiety that means I fare much better in social situations that are based around an activity, so that intimacy of just being together for the sake of being together is often difficult for me. It does work, but only with people I’m already SUPER close to. I imagined having an open-door policy with one of our couple friends when we bought a condo around the corner from their house, but in reality, that would be so unpleasant for me.

    I’m still figuring out how to be a good friend as a fairly introverted adult, but a big part of it has been understanding my own needs and not giving myself guilt for not meeting some standard definition of a ‘good’ social life.

  • ssha

    I love this and all the ways of friend-keeping that are suggested in the comments. In college, my 3 closest high school friends and I would do “Facebook Five”: every Sunday, update the group message with 5 things about your week. It fizzled out towards the end but it was amazing for keeping in contact.
    I don’t have one community anymore, and friendships have gotten harder as the parts of my life become more disparate. But this thread is encouraging.
    One more thing: friendships during wedding planning!! Are hard. I just feel like posting on Facebook sometimes that I won’t be emotionally available until this summer. However, it does give me a good excuse to text my best friend/in-town bridesmaid all the time, and to NOT put off talking to out of town friends about bridesmaid stuff/ when they’re coming up if they’re coming as guests/ sharing excitement etc.

  • JC

    I just texted my best friend (whom I don’t talk to nearly enough) to say I love her. Easy as that, but sometimes it feels so hard! Thanks for the reminder! (I know that the article was about a lot more than that, but I also need to remind myself that I have ways of not feeling alone.)

    • Emily

      Yes! Sometimes you need the 2 hour marathon catch-up talk, sometimes you just need to say “hey, thinking about you” and leave it at that.

  • macrain

    It’s odd, but I feel like I’m in a better place re: friendships since I had a baby. Before that, I just wanted this closeness that we all shared in our 20’s which simply isn’t possible anymore. It caused a lot of disappointment and frustration.
    Now I have lower expectations, and being a mom has opened the door to mom friends, which I have really loved. I am not as close with my mom friends, but it’s awesome to like, drink rose and chat while our babies play together. I’m not relying on just my super close group of friends to fulfill all of my friend needs.
    I think the key to best friendships is to also have other, less deep relationships.

    • HarrietVane

      That’s a great point. I don’t have any children, but I work for myself now and even though I have close friends who I love, I miss a lot of the ‘not super close but friendly’ co-worker type relationships I used to have. Still trying to figure out how to incorporate some of those less deep friendships into my life right now!

    • Jenny

      Yep, I find it easy too because there is at the start an easy activity, let’s meet up at the playground/museum/kid friendly place. You already have something you can talk about, teething/diaper rash/daycare/ tantrums etc.

    • Jess

      “I think the key to best friendships is to also have other, less deep relationships.”

      I have been trying to figure out how to say this. I made it my mission last year to make more (particularly female) friends. Which means starting lots of less deep relationships. I see a really good friend of mine expect those college-friendships to still appear now and getting frustrated when after hanging out a few times it’s not instant-connection.

      There’s something to be said for lowering expectations and letting closeness grow over time.

      • macrain

        Lowering expectations is key, yes, and going with that- sometimes the closeness may not grow and that’s okay too! I have a friend who shares my taste in television, and we love to recap all our favorite shows together. It doesn’t go a whole lot deeper than that, but it fulfills the part of me who wants to forget my life for a second and talk about who killed Jason Blossom on Riverdale.

    • MDBethann

      Yup. There were 3 of us that started hanging out at prenatal yoga and our children were all born within 2 months of each other. We had weekly get-togethers while we are all on maternity leave and then one of the moms went on a summer long trip to Maine with her family (they work in a school, so they can do that stuff) and we lost touch. The other mom and I try to get together at least monthly with our kids and now that they are mobile at 2 and more interactive, they are really starting to have fun together. It doesn’t hurt that she just had baby #2 and my #2 is due in 5 months so we’ll be able to keep this going for awhile, especially since we have similar values and interests. But yeah, clicking with other parents is hard, even if your kids really click.

  • honeycomehome

    Adult friendship is something I started to figure out as I turned 30. In my late 20’s I mourned the closeness (and intensity) of those high school and college friendships. But as my friends’ lives started to settle into the shape they were likely to take it became easier to adjust to what friendship could look like. So much of friendship is habit, and once everyone’s lives started to settle as people found careers and cities and relationships it was easier to re-establish those habits. It’s just those moments (years!) of transition that are so hard.

    And for what it’s worth, I’ve found friends having kids to be just like those other transitions. Some friendships can adjust and some can’t. For me a lot of it has been trading back and forth: sometimes I’ll come hang at your house, sometimes you hand over the kid to your spouse to meet for happy hour. Everyone bends a little and it works out.

    The biggest change I’ve had to get used to: Planning a ways out. That goes for people with kids or not. Everyone gets busy, someone has to travel farther, someone has a wonky schedule, etc. It’s sooooo much planning and “Are you free two weeks from now? Three weeks from Wednesday?” type of texts and it’s the worst. But it’s also invaluable and I treat it like any other meeting/appointment on my calendar: not optional unless I want the torture of rescheduling.

  • quiet000001

    My dilemma on this subject is MAKING friends, especially locally, now that I am an adult. Because I spent a big chunk of my late teens and early 20s in England, my friends are pretty well scattered to the international winds, and there isn’t really anyone local (now I’ve moved back to my hometown) to do stuff with. I’m not a huge extrovert but I definitely miss having people to meet up with for a meal or similar.

    But making friends as an adult baffles me. Where do I find people?

    • Rebecca

      In a new place I always make a point of saying yes to everything – want to join a choir? Yes. Want to come to this seminar that isn’t at all in your field? Yes. And reciprocally, invite people – anyone you feel vaguely good about – to everything. I think most of us find making friends really hard as an adult, in part because we have to fit new people into existing routines, but also because we’ve forgotten how to do it, so don’t think you’re the only one who wishes they had a better local set of connections. And finally, mention to people you meet that you’re recently moved back and don’t really know anyone (assuming you are leaving the house during the day and conversing with people) – whenever someone tells me this I go out of my way to invite them to stuff. It doesn’t always lead to lasting friendships, but it can.

      • quiet000001

        I haven’t been getting out much for health reasons (my own and family) which does make it harder. I’ve been thinking about trying to volunteer some to get myself out of the house and ease myself back into a ‘normal’ work routine (I need to build confidence that I’ll be able to be out and about regularly) so hopefully that would put me in contact with people.

        I actually came back and went back to college locally (before the health issues) and I definitely missed a chance there to say yes to things. But at the time I wasn’t anticipating staying local after graduation so being friendly acquaintances with my classmates seemed good enough. (There was an age gap, too, since I wasn’t right out of high school.) Just goes to show you should build local contacts when you can because you never know how things will work out.

        That said, you make a good point about inviting people – I tend to feel like I shouldn’t invite anyone unless we are already friends, but there is no reason why I couldn’t invite some of the folks I know from college who are still local to things. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that, thanks. :D

        • Rebecca

          No worries! Glad I could be somewhat helpful!
          I find a lot of times it’s a miss – you find you don’t actually like the person/have nothing in common/they have no time/despite best intentions you just find conversation difficult to maintain – but if you do it with enough people, every now and then one sticks… currently trying to make friends with a new woman in my choir, having dinner with her on Tuesday! She’s ten years older but I don’t think age matters much in friendship – if you have a good time with the person then that’s good enough.
          I’ve been in my current city for four years and have plenty of friends here now, but a lot of time spent travelling when I was younger taught me that I have to just overcome inherent shyness and introversion and jump on any friendship opportunities I can see :D

  • Abby

    Also, the crappy dinner party is a wonderful way to keep that everyday casual intimacy going: http://www.thekitchn.com/5-rules-for-hosting-a-crappy-dinner-party-235815.

    • penguin

      I love this! I tend to go overboard on the cleaning/prepping aspect of having people over, so then we have people over less often.

      • Abby

        Same! But since my friends and I have started accepting crappiness at our dinner parties, we’re eating a lot more tasty home cooking together, and it’s joyous.

  • HCampGust

    I drive 50 minutes each way for week, and love the idea of calling friends on the phone. But… I go through lots of valleys on my drive where I lose service. I’m not always sure if it is going to happen, but I felt so annoying when I first discovered this, so stopped calling friends on this time. All of the love and encouragement in this post and the comments makes me wonder if I should try again, and instead of worrying about being annoying, just let friends know at the beginning of the call that they might lose me, but I’ll call back. Anyone else have this experience?