Cultivating Relationships (and Keeping Them)

For Alyssa’s prompt, “one thing about today you wish you knew one year ago,” so many things swam through my mind. The one that really stuck out for me though? The fact that no matter how good your intentions are to keep friendships going, if you don’t continue to cultivate them….you will lose them quickly. Cultivating relationships of any kind is so important for happiness.

It is hard to make friends as an adult, can we all agree on that? There are so many different “life stages” to go through and we all hit them at different times. I am 33 and some of my friends had kids ten years ago and are immersed in football games, cheerleading competitions and hosting sleep overs at their house. Other friends had babies in the last year or two and don’t really get out much because babies are a lot of work! So they really only hang out with other friends that have kids around the same age and understand. Then there is the group of friends that are wild and free and are out partying it up every weekend and that just sounds exhausting. We all have work, family or personal obligations, organizations we belong to and really just our own shit to deal with.

What I have learned is, if you don’t continue to make the effort to hang out….then you never will. Sure, you might get that reminder on Facebook that so-and-so’s birthday is today so you leave a message on their wall telling them that you miss them and you should get together soon. You never do. Or while you are standing in line to check out at a fast-casual restaurant, you run in to an old co-worker you used to hang out with all the time and you mention that you guys should grab lunch soon, but don’t set concrete plans.

This is how we lose our friends. You need to do more than just have good intentions, you need to have follow through. I very much regret not keeping in regular contact with a few people that I was very close to when I lived in Atlanta. I regret very much not making actual plans with a girlfriend that I ran into grabbing lunch one day last year. Because you know what, I haven’t seen or spoken to any of them since. And that makes me sad.

I can sit here and say, well they never reached out to me either. But how does that make it better?

So what I wish I could have told myself one year ago, is to keep cultivating the relationships with those that I enjoy having in my life. Life gets busy, but it isn’t an excuse to not make the time to grab a drink or get the kids together for a play date.

What is something you wish you knew a year ago?

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  • Reply chelsea jacobs October 13, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Ooh, this is so good.

  • Reply SMD @ Life According to Steph October 13, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    You definitely need to make the effort. And that’s on both ends – it’s tiring when you’re the only one doing it and it sucks for someone else when you’re the one never trying to make plans or talk.

    Good post!

  • Reply StephTheBookworm October 13, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    Very good advice! As far as friends, I mostly just hang out with my two best girlfriends these days. They don’t have babies yet, but it’s okay with them and they adore Caleb. Friends like that are special… they love hanging out with my son! I don’t really see many other friends because I’m busy with Caleb, hubby, work, the rest of my family, etc. I’m okay with that because I’ve always been shy and introverted. I’m glad I have my family, really close friends, and blogging friends. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders October 13, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    It really is so hard to make sure to follow through and cultivate friendships as you get older because you just get busy with life and other things. I have a rule with some of my girlfriends and friends that we can’t leave a meet up without scheduling our next one because otherwise it’ll take us months to actually plan something.

  • Reply alyssa October 13, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    SO TRUE. “Let’s catch up sometime” or “let me know when you’re free for coffee” are all well and good, but maintaining relationships takes more than that. And it’s interesting that for some people/relationships, cultivating comes in different forms. I have one good friend who moved to another state and we stay in touch with FB/Instagram likes and a long phone call every few weeksโ€”and it still feels good. I have other friends I’m in a group chat with and we see each other every week or so. I have other friends across the country I text with every day, and some who I stay in touch with via Snapchat, and that’s enough. Every relationship, like every person, is different. So no matter what the method, the relationships you want to maintain need to be nurtured, especially in adulthood when it’s so easy to just let days slip by. Great post; thanks for linking up!

  • Reply Laura October 13, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    You’re so right – it is so hard to make friends as an adult I can’t thank the blogging (and THE jesus) enough for bringing you into my life to be my bestie. I also think that sometimes some relationships aren’t worth the effort to cultivate — especially if you’re the one doing all the work or have just grown apart. I will tell you that I promise to cultivate our friendship. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Cara October 13, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    This is really sound advice, Nadine. I actually was thinking about this very subject yesterday. Adulting is hard for all of us and having friends as an adult can seem like an impossible task sometimes, but as you said it takes effort. If you or the other person are not willing to put forth the effort then it won’t last. It’s unfortunate that I don’t hardly speak to anyone I graduated school with, simply because we’re all at different stages in our lives, but I do sometimes think it would be nice to catch up on the old times.

  • Reply Lauren October 13, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    So true! I’m trying to make a conscious effort that when a friend crosses my mind to at least text them, or when I text them, at least talk about making plans. It’s so easy to lose touch but so important to keep good people in your life. I don’t want to have to start over in making friends – that part is even harder!

  • Reply kathy @ more coffee, less talky October 13, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    YES. friendships are like gardens – you need to tend to it, water it, feed it, otherwise it’ll wilt and die.

    we’re all busy but it’s so important to continue to foster your relationships, not just with friends but with those you care about otherwise those connections can get lost as life continues to bombard us with obligations. my friends and i make it a point to get together at least once a month for dinner. it doesn’t have to be for very long; just a couple of hours and who doesn’t have a couple of hours to spare during a week?

  • Reply Robin October 13, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    One thing that’s hard to accept – not every friend is meant to be your friend forever. With some people, I could only put forth so much effort before realizing that we had come to a fork in the road and it was time to go our separate ways. This is not to say that I will never speak to some people if we happen to meet again, but I got to a point where I was tired of being the only person who wanted the friendship.

  • Reply jessica October 13, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    reading this was actually really comforting. i sometimes feel like a huge failure when it comes to friendships and when i think about it i hope this is just the time of our life we are in.

    when you are in school and young, everyone is on the same page…when you are older and all the kids are out of the house (i swear my parents have a better social life than me) no matter your age (and my grandmas lol), you are on the same page… these in-between years just seem to be the hardest… i just pray i hold on tight to the people who matter and some relationships just pick up where they left off when the time is right… great post ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply texerinsydney October 14, 2016 at 3:00 am

    SO much truth in this post. I have a girlfriend from Texas that moved to Italy 5 years before I moved to Australia. She told me that I would quickly learn who would put the effort into maintaining the friendship although oceans divided us. She also told me that I would learn who mattered to me most and was worth my time and effort as well. It sounds a little cold, but there is so much truth to those two lessons.

  • Reply ellesees.net October 14, 2016 at 7:10 am

    I feel ya! I feel alone a lot since I don’t have kids. My friends disappeared once they had them or refer to themselves as Mommy now instead of their names. It’s a weird transition of friendship.

  • Reply kristen October 14, 2016 at 10:06 am

    this is so, so true Nadine. Sometimes i get caught up in the ‘well they never reached out to me either’ trap, but that doesn’t fix anything. i mean, i can keep trying and trying and if i never get anything back, well that’s different. but if i’m not making an effort, why should they? it’s hard when you are in different life stages for sure.

  • Reply Teh Megan October 14, 2016 at 11:06 am

    Friendship has been a frequent topic of conversation at our house recently. Mostly, Teh German feels like he doesn’t have any close friends here and that is really bothering him, and I can say that I don’t really have more than a few people I’m even kinda close with that are local. To make matters worse, we don’t really go out of our way to meet new people. We are happy with our lives, so it’s hard to find a reason to go out and meet people. Adulting is hard.

  • Reply Rach @ This Italian Family October 14, 2016 at 11:12 am

    You are spot on with this! This is something that we have definitely realized over the years as we’ve watched our friends have babies and move into different life stages. Or even just when a friend who used to live close by moves 20 minutes across town. You think that since they didn’t move away to another city that you’ll still get together all the time, but when it starts to take actual intentional work to see someone, it tends to wane. So yes, so true about needing to be intentional in this!

  • Reply Jenna October 15, 2016 at 1:50 am

    YES, it really is incredibly hard as an adult to both make and keep friends, and it gets harder as you get married and have kids. But it’s not impossible to get back on track with the friends you have as long as you make the effort. And lordy… You NEED that interaction as your life changes. I got lucky this week. I had two of my friends who I’d lost touch with (because they’d both moved away) get in touch with me after they moved back into town. We’re getting together with one of them and his wife in a couple of weeks, and I’m SO looking forward to it. The other now has my number, and I’m pretty darn determined to set something up before the month is out.

  • Reply Amy Getz October 16, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    This was a good . . . and oh so important! It is hard when the kids are little to remember your friendships because some days it seems all about survival, but do make the time to check on and keep in touch with friends . . . you’ll need them later so you don’t lose yourself in just mommyhood! Love this!

  • Reply Allison Arnone October 18, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    Some friendships naturally drift apart and that’s OK – but the ones you want to keep are worth fighting for. It might require some effort and work but friendships (all kinds) are so important and I agree, you don’t want to look back and regret not cultivating them.

  • Reply Duckie October 19, 2016 at 2:54 am

    Ohhhhh this is too good! I was nodding my head through this entire thing. I went through all those stages in my life. I met Joey and moved far away from all my friends when I was 19, had a baby at 21, then another at 22. Now I’m busy with work and kids sports and school projects and daily life that it gets hard to have real-life friends that I can talk to and hang out with. I have a few close ones now and we don’t all see each other that often, but when we do get together, all the days in between seem to melt away. That’s what good friendships should be like.

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