Friendships are so important to women. Our girlfriends provide support, connection, fulfillment and fun. But as we go through different phases of our lives, our friendships evolve as well.
When I was single, my girlfriends were my tribe, my family. We hung out together, took care of each other, cheered each other on. When I was a stay-at-home mom, my fellow mom friends became my cherished partners in parenting. Our circle was broad and our contact was frequent. My girlfriends and I hung out at playgrounds, soccer games, and library story hours. It was fun, it was communal, and it made the sometimes lonely, tedious job of parenting small kids bearable. If I met a nice woman who lived nearby and her kids played well with mine, voila! We were besties!
Now that my kids are older, I'm not as involved in their social lives and my friendships aren't based on theirs. These days my relationships with other women are based on compatibility and shared interests and - let's face it - the time we're able to give one another. Because it takes a lot of effort to keep the connection intact, especially since many of us have headed back to work. We have to be more conscious about staying in touch with old friends as well as taking the initiative to make new ones. It's important, because at any phase, these relationships are precious and worthwhile.
We have three types of friends in life: friends for a reason, friends for a season, and friends for a lifetime.
Here, my new friend and fellow writer Christine Wolf (check out her website) and I discuss women's friendships and a few things we do to sustain ours. I've added some more of my thoughts below, but would love to hear how you stay in touch with your girlfriends, especially when it's no longer about your kids. I know I can do a better job being a good friend, so please share!
Ideas to maintaining friendships -
- Make it official. Subscribe to theater tickets with a friend, join a book club, take a class or organize a birthday celebration circle. Get-togethers that are centered on specific events and dates are more likely to make it on your calendar and happen regularly. And regular contact is the goal.
- Multi-task. You have to walk your dog or exercise anyway, so why not do it with a friend? It's healthier and more time-efficient than lunch. If it's hard to get together with a friend in person, give her a call when you're doing a boring task like folding laundry or cleaning the kitchen. One friend frequently calls me from the bathtub! A short walk or a quick phone call make a big difference.
- Don't keep score. Do you feel like you're always the one making the effort? Friendships are supposed to be reciprocal, but sometimes life gets in the way, and a friend just doesn't have the same time or energy to put into the relationship as you do. Instead of feeling hurt or annoyed, give her a break and stay accessible. You might need the same consideration from your pals down the road.
Now, let's hear what works for you!