How to maintain friendships

Not everyone gets to spend 20 years in the same town.

My parents have lived in the same house since before I was born. We were a social bunch, and new people were always in an out. The most memorable was a missionary family that stayed with us for weeks at a time. We had a large house, but they were a family of ten. They lived in a blue school bus most months during the year, travelling from church to church, but some months we hosted them.

I love people because my parents loved people.

Because I’ve always been surrounded by people, I don’t like to be alone. It drives me crazy. I talk to myself, and realize ten minutes later there’s no one else in the room. Maybe that’s normal, or maybe that’s embarrassing. Bottom line? I like to direct words at less-than-imaginary friends if they’re available.

I had the same five or ten friends throughout my childhood, and several of them carried over into my adolescence. I am privileged to say I have had many good friends in my life, a couple of which have been around for almost 20 years. Crazy, right?

I recently met up with an ex-best-friend, Cass. Yes, ex. If you’re not a girl that may sound ridiculous, but best friends can often change with the season. She and I were best friends from 4th grade until 9th grade, except for the day she made me mad and I left a mean note in her locker. I ended up in detention.

When we met up for coffee, and I remembered why.

I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed her, and we hadn’t spoken in five years. She was from my days of sparkly, cake-flavored chapstick, and here we were discussing what college was like. It was almost surreal.

My friend Jen has been around since I was four years old.

She remembers when I wet the bed. She remembers my made up boyfriends. She remembers the nights that were so dark that all we could do was cry. Most people aren’t lucky enough to have a life-long friend, but I am. The best part is we’ve stayed close. I’m not sure how many other people can tell me what I’m feeling before I realize I’m feeling it. At least without making me mad.

Friendships are important and maintaining them is work.

Here is my advice on how to maintain friendships:

It’s not about constant contact; it’s about meaningful contact. You don’t have to hang out with them every week, but if it’s been six months, go have a long dinner and catch up.
Don’t be afraid of awkwardness. I have friends that I could go a year without seeing, but if we meet up for dinner, we pick up where we left off. They were your friends for a reason at some point, so you already know your personalities don’t clash.
Life is going to move you around, but technology leaves you with almost no excuse not to keep up with their lives. Thank you social media.
Always look for ways to give and serve. Most people expect out of touch friends to only initiate contact when they need something. Reach out when you know there’s a need. What goes around comes around.
Remember that sometimes it’s ok to let go. People will change, and it can be for the worst. You are who you associate with, and you don’t have to keep friends just because you’ve known them since kindergarten.

How to maintain friendships