How to maintain adult friendships + why it’s important

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”

– Albert Schweitzer

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I am lucky to have so many people that I call a friend. We might not be able to hang out regularly. (Hey, life is busy!) We may not talk as often as I would like to. 

But friends are a balm for the soul in a world that just grows wearier by the day. They rekindle our inner flame, as Schweitzer so eloquently said above. 

A true friend’s value could never, ever be measured. 

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I am so grateful to Sarah, a blogger friend, for sharing her thoughts on adult friendships, and why these relationships matter now more than ever. 


Friendship matters even more in adulthood than it did when we were children. 

Children still benefit from friendships, but as adults we’re the ones teaching our children how to both have, and be, a friend. Being a friend increases happiness and strengthens marriages. It improves health and life outcomes. 

But what often happens is, we let fear and false perceptions skew the way we view ourselves and the people in our lives. We convince ourselves that no one wants to be our friend, or that there’s never enough time to be a friend.

​As I was writing this post, late at night on Christmas Day, I got a message from a friend. 

She asked if I could come over in the morning, but she was being mysterious and not in an “I’ve got a surprise for you” kind of way. 

It was 1AM. I was drinking. I was tired. Honestly, I did not want to go over in the morning. And I did not want to talk to anyone. 

But something told me to call her. So, of course I called! It wasn’t about me, it was all about her. 

Sometimes that’s what friendship looks like.

Being a Friend

​The next hour was a blur as I kept her talking on the phone, while I frantically woke my husband so he could call an ambulance for her.

​She was in serious trouble.

​I called a cab and went to her place so I could stay with her children until they woke up. Then, I got in touch with her ex so he could pick the children up. I let her dog out and arranged for a neighbour to watch him for a few days. I did her dishes, washed her floor, and watered her plants.

​These are things I barely do in my own home, but when a friend needs help in this way, you help them. I know she’d do the same for me if I ever needed it.

How to maintain adult friendships + why it’s important, friendships, adult friendships

Adult friendships are messy 

​I admire that friend because she reached out for help. This is something many people don’t do because they believe they don’t have any friends.

Low self-esteem or fear tell them they’re not worthy of help or companionship.

​Adult friendship is messy in a way friendship never was when we were younger. It all seems to matter more now than it did then. It’s hard to find friends, and even harder to keep friends. And worse, we often doubt whether we have any friends at all.

No one to turn to

​I know intimately what that’s like. Eleven years ago I had a six month old and a toddler. It was all I could do to get through each day without crying or yelling or both.

I wasn’t coping. That was obvious, but I wasn’t sure how bad it was until one day things became so heavy I felt like spanking my toddler. I’d vowed to never do that, but I had no idea how I’d get through the day. I was crying, I was yelling, my toddler was laughing at me, and I was alone. I thought I had no one to call.

So, ​I called 911. Within minutes, I had several RCMP officers in my home. They stood between me and my children until my husband could come home from work. Unless someone was with me 24/7, we’d have our children taken away. If I thought life was hard a few moments earlier, it did not prepare me for how hard it was about to become!

adult friendships

​A hard season of life

The next month involved assessment after assessment to see if I had postpartum depression or any other mental health issues that might indicate I wasn’t a safe parent. Finally they determined I was not depressed nor dangerous. I just wasn’t coping. So they said, “See ya later.” And they closed the door on me.

​I was alone again, still not coping, with more stress than before, and they never gave me any tools to help me figure it out.

​From that moment on, I’ve focused on learning how to cope, and also how to have people in my life I can call on for help.

Along the way I discovered I was never alone. Not even back then. I felt alone, but that’s not the same as being alone.

​Adult friendships need to be about so much more than just having the same interests. It takes work and dedication to get to a place where you have a friend you can count on. But most of the time someone else will be there long before you think they will be.  

Stories We Tell Ourselves

​Brené Brown talks about the stories we tell ourselves. When you text a friend and get no response you tell yourself the story that they don’t care. You might tell yourself the story that they were too busy. 

But those stories aren’t always true. In order to know the truth, you need to ask them, “Hey, I texted and didn’t get a response. I’m curious what’s up?”

​Maybe they’re going through a tough time and didn’t want to burden you. Maybe they don’t feel like the friendship’s working. Maybe your friend will be vulnerable and let you know they aren’t getting what they want out of the relationship. Then you have the opportunity to decide whether you give them what they want or whether you think it’s time to let the friendship go. If you don’t ask, you can’t know.

How to Make Friends​

​Making friends often begins with a shared interest. Whether you love dogs or reading or watching “Star Wars” or some other activity. There’s always something you like enough that you can find others who also like it. 

​The fun part is meeting those people. Attend an event or join a group. If you can’t find one, start your own. The library is an excellent place to look for a variety of interest groups.

​Talk to people. Be curious. The more you talk to people, the more likely you are to find someone who wants to talk to you a second time.

The Secret of Adult Friendships

​Wanna know the biggest secret to making friends as adults?

​Most people are naturally inclined to not like new people. This means when we meet someone new, we don’t really give them a chance. In the rare cases where people do naturally like each other right away there are certain skills they use to make that happen. It isn’t accidental and it isn’t even rare!

Keep the conversation flowing

​When you meet someone and the conversation is halted or one sided, then it’s hard to tell if you actually like a person or not. Learning how to keep the conversation going back and forth allows both of you a better opportunity to tell if you might get along.

Spend time together

​Don’t be fooled. Proximity breeds long-term friends more effectively than good conversation by itself. When you spend more time with someone, you get to like them more and they get to like you more! *There are some circumstances where that isn’t the case. You know what those ones feel like!

Adult friendships

Ask questions

​One way to both keep the conversation flowing and to also learn more about the new people you’re around is to ask questions. Asking open ended questions, such as ‘What do you think about…?” Or “Where did you grow up?” Followed by, “What did you like the most about growing up there?” You could go even deeper, “In what ways does it compare to where you are now?”

​The more curious you are about someone, the more they’re likely to open up to you and the more they’re likely to want to be your friend.

Be Respectful

​You’ll like people who have differing opinions on some topics more than people who agree with everything you say. However, no one wants someone else to attack them. Attacking them will never change their opinion on the topic, but it will change their opinion of you.

​Be respectful.

​If you disagree and want to keep talking about the topic, then find out how the topic relates to what they value most. This often leads to something you agree on. From agreement, you are better prepared to discuss what you disagree with. Core values are always a great way to connect with anyone you meet.

Busyness and Not Enough Time

​Work. Children. School. Lessons. Volunteer. Pets. The list goes on and on. There are so many different directions we pull ourselves each day. The busier we get the harder it is to find time to connect with people outside of those small circles.

​If proximity and time together strengthens a friendship, then being too busy weakens a friendship. How many times have you tried to get together with a friend only to have to book a month in advance? It happens to a lot of people. Most often when this happens a few times in a row, the other person believes you don’t value them or their friendship.

What are your excuses?

​Are you one of the people who’s too busy for friendship? 

If you’re the one who’s never available, then maybe you need to ask yourself what’s really important to you about being so busy.

What’s so important to you about having friends, or how about specific friends? 

Are you spending your time on the things that really matter?

Adult friendships
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Having friends in adulthood keeps us healthier and happier than if we don’t have friends. But it’s up to us to cultivate friendships. They don’t just happen on their own. We need to be willing to show up and connect.


About the Author

mental health blogger

Sarah Langner is a relationship and connection coach. She serves her clients by guiding them as they strengthen the relationships that matter to them. She supports them as they discover who they are, their deeper purpose, and she keeps them accountable as they make the changes they want in order to live their life according to their deeper purpose.

Sarah’s married to Ryan, together they have 4 children, 3 cats, and an extra large dog named Moana. She’s also a cancer survivor, a wire sculptor, a gardener, a fibre artist, and loves all things Disney.

Follow Sarah at:

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Instagram


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72 thoughts on “How to maintain adult friendships + why it’s important”

    1. I’m an introvert too, so I was really glad she offered to speak on this topic. Thanks for reading!

  1. I love reading this kind of article wherein we can be beneficial and we learn all about something that will definitely help us in our life. Thanks for sharing such wonderful topic for us.

  2. Jessica Formicola

    This really resonated with me. It IS so hard to maintain adult friendships. One thing we try to do (now more than ever) is have a set FaceTime weekly date!

  3. Eewww.. I have a tough time with “friends” due to being introvert as well. It’s like i’m “OK” with not having them. However, I do understand the importance of it all… But I also agree that a (health) friendship is good to increases happiness and improving health and life outcomes. My husband reminds me of this all the time.

    1. I understand that. I’m an introvert as well so I tend to struggle in this area. Thanks for taking the time to read!

  4. I can’t live without my tribe. The women in my life from all different parts of it have been like sisters to me.

  5. Calling a friend now. This is such a reminder of the importance of nurturing friendships. I never really thought about the importance of demonstrating how to be a friend and how to receive friendship to your children. Thank you.

  6. This post is so important because it’s about a subject that rarely gets talked about. I have a lot of friends who struggle with making adult friendships!

  7. I have college friends from way back in the day, but I am thousands of miles away from them so, we just keep in touch through Facebook. We’ll be friends forever, though. That’s for sure.

    1. That’s so great! Facebook has its flaws but it’s also really really valuable. Thanks for reading!

    1. Me too! I miss my friend coming over once a week to hang out. Hopefully this craziness passes soon. Thanks for reading!

  8. Most of my friends have moved away and I’ve been struggling because I’ve felt alone. This post gave me a boost to get back in touch with them because it is true that friendships require work especially if it’s long distance.

    1. I’m so glad you found it helpful! I hope the tips work for you. Take care, and thanks for reading!

  9. This is so important, friendship is a great support and it is one of the things I miss so much from my country. Here in the US is difficult to find true friends. That is why my family is so important to me.

    1. It’s good that you can be so close to your family. Sometimes they are like friends! Hopefully making friends here gets a little easier for you. Thanks for reading!

  10. Having lived in a few countries I have friends scattered around the world who I stay connected with due to improved technology. These friends when we get together after sometimes 5 years or more apart, it’s as if we saw each other yesterday. However, I still love a chat, a deeper conversation over a cuppa with a local friend, but for many years when my children were young, I kept myself busy working and volunteering and didn’t build the connections I longed for. Fortunately, it’s never too late and by asking people I thought I’d connect with to walk and chat my friendship circle is expanding along with my mental and physical health. Thank you for sharing these tips.

    1. No problem! I’m glad you’re finding away to nurture your friendships in a really tough time for lots of people. Take care, and thanks for reading!

  11. As an adult it becomes harder to find people that we just click with so I value my group of friends for the way we can impact each other’s lives. I marvel at how easily my son makes friends…after meeting someone new he will say ‘do you want to play?’ There’s joy and no expectation when he does that.

    1. It really is so easy for them! They judge a lot less, and don’t set as high of expectations. Thanks for reading!

    1. Haha, I hear ya. I love my family, but I wish my friends were family too! They definitely feel like family. Thanks for reading!

  12. This is such a good post! I’m literally on a call with three friends talking about friendships and changes over the years. It’s definitely messy, but we have to work through it and put effort.

    1. For sure! Maybe your communication fluctuates over the years, but as long as you’re always there for them. Thanks for reading!

  13. It really is so important to nurture adult friendships. I feel so blesses that no matter the time of day I can call on my bestie and she’ll drop everything to help me (as I would her). You’re so right when you say you have to be willing to show up and connect. That’s the first step in finding your “tribe”.

    1. Absolutely! You have to be willing to put the work in. Glad you are able to have that connection with your BFF. Thanks for reading!

  14. Maintaining friendships as an adult are so hard. For various reasons, all my friendships from when I was a kid / teen have gone now. And making new friends as an adults is even harder!

    1. It’s definitely harder for whatever reason. And sadly, it’s more necessary as well. Thanks for reading!

  15. This was a wonderful read! As a student who runs a blog, works, does school full-time and has a co-op, I can often lose track of friendships and simply never have time for them. This was a great reminder during our current pandemic how important they are, thank you!

  16. Thank you for sharing, adult friendships and a good support network are so important. Sorry to hear that you were left to cope on your own when you were struggling. Glad you found a way through it.

  17. You are so right! Adult friendships are so messy! But yes too true the secret is to keep the communication going as when we don’t it can get a bit weird and then we start telling ourselves strange stories about what is going on…

    1. I love random texts just to say you’re thinking of them. I think that definitely helps. Yes, I hate the “stories we tell ourselves” phenomenon. Can’t say I’m never guilty of that! Thanks for reading.

  18. Wonderful post! Thank you for introducing us to Sarah and sharing her wisdom about adult friendships. I’m sad to say that I didn’t do a lot of friendship legwork when I was younger, so I had a lot of casual friends and very few deep relationships. The older I get, the more effort I make to strengthen and form tighter bonds with the people I actually like in my friend group (the surprise thing about having so many casual “friends,” is that there are a lot of them you don’t actually like). Great post!

    1. I had a good amount of close friends but then I switched school districts, and I was so upset about that I kind of gave up. Now I have one or two dear friends that get me through the hard times. Thanks for reading!

  19. Awe I love this post! I totally agree, it’s more important to have friendships as an adult than a child for sure! You definitely need them in your life during troubling times as an adult. Thanks for including this wonderful guest post in your blog, I enjoyed reading it!

    1. You’re welcome! Now more than ever, we need our friends, even if we can’t see them face to face. Thanks for reading!

    1. Definitely not! I’ve been deepening my connection with one of my dear friends, and it has been so helpful. Thanks for reading!

  20. Wow, I’m so sorry that after a month you were just abandoned. I feel that there is a gap in our healthcare system that fails people who fall into the grey area. There’s no help for people who are on the brink and seek help. Help is not only afforded to hose who go over because no one intervened, but by then it’s usually too late. Unfortunately, I see a lot of myself in your post. I am the too busy friend with a demanding full time job, family, new business and health that is fickle at best, but I do try. My friends know my heart and know that even at great risk to my own health, I’ll come to their aid. Great post.

  21. You know snail mail is a forgotten medium but me and my best friend live hundreds of miles from each other and we send letter to each other sporadically. It’s the best feeling in the world getting some snail mail. Looking at the pile of mail and seeing something that isnt boring. Your right though you just have to put the time in.

  22. These are important things we tend to neglect. I myself am an introvert and I find it very difficult to maintain a friendship. I have one good friend and even though we rarely meet, I know if I call her, she will be there for me. I also often forget I can ask friends for favors if I need help. Instead, I try to figure things out by myself, which is either difficult or time-consuming or both, but always really frustrating. This is one of the things I’m trying to work on.

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