How to maintain old friendships through the changing times of life
There is a Yoruba proverb that says, “Twenty children cannot play together for twenty years” and to a large extent, this seems to be what obtains with many childhood or long-time friendships. The truth however is that it doesn’t really have to be so.
A friendship of two or more people who grew up together or have been together for a long time can be kept and maintained if they observe the right attitude towards each other. Long-time friendships can be likened to marriages in the sense that if you want them to succeed and last you have to stay committed even when you don’t feel like it.
The truth is that sometimes we outgrow some friendships and when that happens, there is no need to force things. But when the barriers to our cherished friendships are things like work, distance, other relationship commitments and life in general, then we can find a way to keep our friendship ties. We may just need to some extra work.
Here are some tips to maintaining friendships as life unfolds;
Communication is key
You can’t maintain any relationship without communication. Stay in touch with those old friends by keeping touch; tell one another what you’re up to, keep them up to date about your family members, plans and milestones. Let them about who got married or divorced, who is sick or who died in your families and other random stuff.
Let them know when you’re getting married, planning a party or going on a trip even if they can’t attend. Such communication closes up the gap of distance and busy-ness.
Remember birthday and anniversaries
It may seem little but it helps to maintain friendships. If you can’t remember on your own, set reminders, so you can be there to congratulate your friends and send them good wishes on those important days.
It really goes a long way when old friends remember one’s birthday, other special days and anniversaries of important events in a person’s life.
Sacrifice time for one another
Make the sacrifice of visiting your old friends, attending those important events in their lives like a parent’s or spouse funeral, a child’s wedding, etc. Such things strengthen the bond friendships.
You could also decide to have a reunion or get-away with your old friend(s) to catch up and remember the good old days. It’s a great thing to be able to share your journey with long-time allies.
If you’re not as busy, famous or successful as some of your old friends, your value as a friend increases when they can find understanding and acceptance with you.
If you can visit them more because you are less busy, do it for your friend(s). Don’t let competition, jealousy, or insecurity get in the way; they will appreciate you for it.
Understand your old friends’ new status or reality; don’t make demands you know they may not be able to meet. Show them instead that you understand and are still a loyal friend.
If you’re the one who has become busier or richer or more famous, find a way to show your old friends that you still value them, even though you are dealing with new realities. Send surprise gifts to make up for not being able to hangout, call when you can and assist them when they need your help.
Learning to be sensitive about the challenges and current realities of your friends will keep your friendships going.
As friends grow older, they begin to achieve their goals and expand their frontiers; some become more successful than they imagined and others may have more disappointments. All these realities sometimes make old friends proud and defensive towards one another. This is a recipe for dis-integration
Pride should be quickly replaced with humility where old friendships are concerned. if you’ve made it big, don’t be boastful or condescending towards your old friends, share your joys with them in a humble way.
If you haven’t made it big the way you thought, don’t go around pretending to be what you’re not; such dishonesty is usually a turn-off. Be humble around those who’ve known you for so long; show them you value them by speaking honestly about those disappointments and asking for help when you need to.
Be of help when you can
A friend in need is a friend indeed. Everybody faces challenges that make them need some assistance and support at some point in their lives and what is the point of friendships if you can find them to help you when you need it?
If you value your long-time friends and would like to keep the relationships going, then you may need to go out of your way to help and be there for them, more than once.
All relationships will require the commitment to constantly and repeatedly forgive if they are to last. Nobody is perfect.