How big of a priority are friendships in your life? In the hierarchy of relationships, friendships are typically subordinate to those of our partners and family.
Friendships, like romantic relationships, are unique in that you choose to enter into them.
Usually, people forge friendships with those who share common interests and due to proximity, like attending the same school or in the workplace.
Over the course of your lifetime you’ve likely had many different types of friends.
Does it seem like things were simpler when you were younger? They probably were. Once upon a time you could run over to your friend’s house to see if s/he could play, but as you get older, friendships take more planning and intention to prioritize.
Both people and friendships change over time and get trickier to nurture as you get older. As people age their priorities shift and friendships are often negatively impacted.
When looking back on their lives, one of the top 5 regrets of the dying was this: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
It’s easy to get caught up in your daily life and let months or even years slip by without reaching out to an old friend. Toward the end of life, people often regret not putting effort into staying connected to their friends.
Our friend Brian was one of those guys who—no matter how long it’d been since we last spoke—made it easy to feel as if we picked right back up where we left off. We appreciated this quality in him and we miss him now that he’s gone.
Here are 5 easy ways to stay more connected to your friends near and far:
1. Schedule talk time if you’re physically separated.
Many times friends move away when they get jobs, get married, or retire. Distance can’t keep true friends apart.
I talk to my best friends every day in some form or fashion and I know if I need anything I can reach out for quick support or a laugh.
You don’t have to speak daily, but schedule a time once a month or so just to chat and catch up. My friends book Google Hangouts (or Skype) calls so we can see each other while we chat to make it feel as if we’re closer.
2. Send your friend a hand-written note letting them know you’re thinking about them.
Usually my mail is mostly junk, so when I see a handwritten note, I get excited!
Here’s a snapshot of a note I got from my friend Jen B. My favorite line is, “Just a little love note to say I miss your face.” Her message totally made my day and I let her know (you should reinforce and reciprocate great friend behavior!) how much I appreciated the gesture.
3. Make time to spend time with your friends.
Yes, you’re busy…I know! (So is everyone else.)
Everybody can make time for what’s important to them. It’s essential to prioritize and nurture your friendships. These relationships (along with those of your partner, family, and children) make up the fabric of your life.
Make great memories! These are the stories you’ll be passing down to future generations.
4. Celebrate milestones.
Social media makes it SUPER easy to remember and celebrate birthdays, anniversaries (work and personal) and kids’ achievements. Take a moment do to more than “Like” these events and write out a sincere message.
Into gift giving? Send little surprises that will make your friends laugh or touch their heart, like these lovely flowers my rock star assistant sent me for my birthday recently! It doesn’t have to be big to be meaningful. ☺
5. Attend reunions and plan get-togethers when traveling.
One of the best ways to stay in touch is to meet up “in the flesh.”
While it might be tempting to blow off a class reunion, you don’t want to miss out on rehashing all those shared experiences of your youth.
If you’re traveling for work (or even for pleasure) to a friend’s town, plan some time for dinner or coffee. Even a few hours of connection to a friend can feel amazing!
As we grow up, we realize it becomes less important to have more friends and more important to have real ones.”—Unknown.
In memory of Brian Fleenor, 1972-2016.