In school, making a friend can be simple. You’re literally in a room with people, undergoing the same stages in life, learning the same material and socializing in the same way. But after school, when adult life kicks in and separates folks in space and experience, it can be harder to maintain those once close bonds. You may find that various stages of your life cause you to show up differently in your friendships. That is particularly true as you get older. What you did in your teens and twenties might not work later in life. There are some things to know about friendship in your 30s, to help enrich your life with the people who matter.
Very few people get excited about the arise of conflict in their interpersonal relationships. But it is inevitable. Instead of running from it, learn to lean in. Address the rift calmly and directly. Seek to hear and understand your friend as they explain their perspective. Then, settle on a compromise you both can live with. Avoiding conflict in your friendship means you’ll remain at a shallow and surface level and won’t get to know the true nature of a person or their ability to argue fairly, forgive and move on.
Avoid emotional dumping
Far too many people claim that they don’t need a therapist because their friend listens to their problems and advises them. That’s beautiful. But your friend is not a licensed professional. After a while, they will reach their water limit. In the worst cases, they may begin to resent the fact you seem to be using them for labor people get paid to do. For long-lasting friendships, it’s important to distinguish what issues you need to work out with a professional.
Make time for one another
Life can get hectic. As folks start adding partners and children to their lives, it can be tricky trying to determine where you might fit in. You may have to get more methodical and intentional about scheduling time to meet up or chat with one another. Have a weekly phone call, plan an annual girl’s trip or even send a text or a letter when you’re thinking about your good friend. These gestures go a long way in keeping the relationship alive.
Accept people for who they are
Some friends are good for the club. Others will always make time for a quick getaway. Still some provide a listening ear when you need it the most. Friendships can suffer when you try to make your club friend your listening ear and visa versa. When someone shows you the ways in which they’re able to show up for you, accept that for what it is. In some cases that may mean ending the relationship or changing your expectations.
Give each other space
Alone time is important. It gives people the opportunity to recharge, and more importantly, the chance to get clear about what they do and don’t want out of life. As much as it is important to be in community with one another. It’s vital to allow space as well.
Adjust to life changes
If your friend from college recently lost a parent, there’s a good chance that she may not be the fun-loving, bubbly girl you first met. You shouldn’t expect her to be. There are millions of moments that can shake up our lives. A good friend learns to adjust, offering support, encouragement and even space in ways they may not have done in the past.
Communicate your needs
One of the biggest lessons in life, is learning how to advocate for yourself. Learning how to speak up and speak out about your needs is a skill you’ll employ again and again, including in friendship. A good friend will try to make accommodations for your requests.