Ahhh, adult friendship. It’s a WHOLE ‘nother ball game than college friendships or high school friendships.
You know that quote, “show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future”? Pair that with the fact that the Bible has a ton of things to say about our friendships and the company we keep. And all of this is good, but adult friendships are HARD sometimes if I’m being brutally honest. And don’t even get me started on finding and keeping strong female friendships as a work-at-home Mom in rural America. Like, wanna drive 30 minutes across bumpy dirt roads to hang out? Lemme get back to you in 3-5 business years when my schedule isn’t dictated by naptime and budget constraints. (Cuz Fiji for a week with a nanny in tow, not in the budge pal). The fact of the matter is this: adult friendships look a LOT different than our friendships in high school or even college. But it seems like the whole world expects us to still operate with the same capacity for fancy friend things as we did when we were 18, kidless, and footloose. However, I do genuinely believe that having strong female friendships is not only essential but possible. So read on and hear my heart and some of the lessons I’ve learned.
1. Finding massive amounts of time to spend together is rare. And in some seasons, it just isn’t going to happen
I remember back in college or even high school. I could have hours and hours of good conversations with my friends. Or heck, even spend several nights in a row at each other’s house. At the time, I really didn’t realize or appreciate how much time I had to spend with my friends, but in hindsight, holy cow, kid!
Fast forward to married adult, with 2 kids on the ground life, and I can count on mmmm zero hands the daily, uninterrupted conversations I get with my friends.
Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t go back even if I could. This season is GOOD! I really really like my husband, and being married is amazing. My kids are even cool most of the time. But finding massive amounts of time to spend together is rare.
2. She really probably IS busy and not just ignoring you.
Seriously, everyone is busy. We all have so much going on and so many demands on our time. Not only that, but society and social media put an incredible amount of pressure on us to always do more, be more, and have more all at the same time.
If your friend doesn’t respond for hours, days, weeks, or even months. Assume the best. Assume she’s busy and reach out again later. Maybe just send a card, some flowers, or a sweet gift. She will thank you, even if she forgets to push “send” on the text.
Whatever you do, though, don’t let the assumption that people are too busy keep you from inviting them, including them, or just reaching out.
3. The number of friends you are going to have will get less. But the ones who stick around will become more valuable than gold.
I was a fairly “popular” individual growing up- meaning I had lots of friends from lots of different circles and ways of life. Mostly because I can make pals with a fencepost. But as life has gone on, and now especially as a work-at-home mom of two little bitties, my socialization time is slim to none, buddy. Slim to none.
However, the friends that I do still have are lifers. They are the through thick and thin, go to war with ya kind of friends, and I wouldn’t trade that for all the shallow surface level friendships in the world.
4. Your time with other adult friends doesn’t have to be fancy to be valuable.
Hi, instaenvy anyone? Not gonna lie, I have daydreamed more than once about a sweet getaway with me and my besties where we could be pampered, go on adventures, and just enjoy some quality time together WITHOUT children in tow. However, It really is ok if you can’t have big extravagant international “girls trips” every year. Most people don’t.
The fact of the matter is, in my life and my friend’s lives, that’s neither logistically possible nor financially feasible for ANY of us right now, and that’s ok!
While I would LOVE to be able to do that with them or even for them one day, the reality is, our friendships RIGHT now just as they are JUST AS PRECIOUS as the friends that get to go all boujeee and resort hop every year.
Don’t forgo or fail to enjoy basic, unfancy get-togethers just because they don’t look like the #dreamlife in your head.
Do what works for you and your friends in this season, and ENJOY it!
5. Get used to playing phone tag and having unfinished conversations with pretty much all adult friendships
For real. Between rural living and throwing snacks at my womb fruit, I rarely get to finish a conversation with a friend.
I’ve learned that I can either learn to roll with it or just never talk to my friends.
6. Everyone else is lonely sometimes too
Yep. I said it. I often feel lonely for strong female friendships. Often. It doesn’t help that all of my close gal pals live at least 3 hours away.
As our world gets increasingly more and more digitally connected yet (in reality) disconnected, I can only imagine that this will get worse. I don’t really have a solution to this yet to be honest. But somehow, knowing that everyone else is lonely makes it a tad easier?
7. Almost everyone else feels left out or awkward with adult friendships too
Yep. I said that too. Even the super popular girls or super fancy Moms feel left out and awkward at times. They may not show it on the outside or seem to step all over themselves in social settings constantly like you feel like you do, but I can almost promise that there are moments when they feel left out or awkward turtle.
8. Show yourself friendly
A while back, I was sitting by myself and watching slack at a rodeo. And I’ll be honest, I was halfway pouting and feeling sorry for myself because my horse was not ready to enter there yet. To top it off, I felt a little miffed that I was by myself and didn’t have a pal to comment back and forth with. Meanwhile, I overheard a conversation between another barrel racer and a couple of ropers. I couldn’t help but notice that she sounded so nice and friendly and positive. So, after the ropers got up and left, I just got my butt up, went over, sat down next to her, and struck up a conversation. And you know what? It was probably the most fun part of the rodeo for me. Certainly, the thing that I learned the most from.
When you realize that probably everybody else feels lonely, awkward, or left out at times, too, it gives you the heart to step out and “make the first move” towards friendship.
9. Invest your precious “friend time” with people that you really click with
There have been several people in my life who, on paper, we should have been best pals. But in reality, we just never clicked. Never really connected. On the other hand, there have been people who, no one woulda’ thunk that we’d be friends, and here we are… still besties for the resties.
My point is this, find your people and love them hard. Even if you still scratch your head at “how are we friends?”
10. Love without expectation of return in any friendship
This one can be really tough if I’m honest. As an enneagram 8, vulnerability is rather hard for me. So when I open up to someone or really let someone in, it’s a big stinking deal. When I don’t feel that same level of trust and appreciation reciprocated from the other person, it can be really rough on my heart.
But I am learning (as in, still very much in process) to love with no expectation of return. Even if someone doesn’t reciprocate my friendship or effort, I can still love them well. After all, isn’t that what Jesus models for us constantly?
Love your friends for who they are, right now, in this season. Not for who they were 10 years ago, for who you want them to be, or even for the friend that you wish they could be to you.
I know that finding and nurturing friendships takes work, effort, intentionality, and an enormous amount of grace, but it’s worth it. Yes, it may look really different from season to season, and it certainly looks different for every woman. But doing life completely alone isn’t an option. We were not built for solitary; we were made for community. So be they your college besties that are 3 and 9 hours away or your next-door neighbor, please, please, please put in the effort to love them well and cultivate meaningful friendship. I can promise you that you will thank yourself later.