Staying Friends in Your 30s

How do you maintain your friendships as life gets busier and busier in your 30s? Four hour boozy dinners and impromptu afternoons of lunch and wandering the city become near impossible when you’ve got work to finish, spouses to see and kids to take care of. While I don’t have kids yet, I definitely find myself strapped for time and not feeling as carefree about my time as I did in my 20s.

This article in NY Mag, The Secret to Staying Friends in Your 30s, was fascinating and awesome because the author, Ada Clahoun, basically makes the case for what she calls, “disjointed, casual and improvised” friendship. What she means by this is, instead of having long hangouts that are hard to schedule, have snippets of in-person friend bonding time whenever you can. In my own circle, I can point to the example of one of my friends who enjoys “errand running” with her other friend whenever he’s in town. When they met up a few days after Christmas this past year, they both went on a gift returning expedition. I love that! There’s a deep comfort in a friendship when you’re able to do errands together.

I love this part of the article:

Friendships these days require both recklessness and ingenuity — the willingness to try hard, but also to settle for scraps. So you see friends when and where you can: say, at a coffee shop around the corner from a drop-off birthday party while working side by side on laptops. “I only have friends who will go to CVS with me,” my best friend, Tara, once announced while we were making our way through Chelsea. I had picked her up at Penn Station (she lives in D.C.) and I was walking her to a meeting. We covered a lot of emotional territory as we marched downtown carrying heavy bags. “How much time do we have?” she will ask most days when we get on the phone. “Six blocks,” I will say. “Okay,” she’ll say. “Go.”

The way Tara and I have stayed close for something like 15 years is that long ago we lowered the bar, accepting that so-called quality time is for other people and that it is our lot instead to tell each other stories one bit of dialogue at a time in ten short phone calls spread out over a week.

When I first started reading this article, I thought “Eh, but it’s not the same as a three hour dinner!” but by the time I finished reading the article, I had changed my tune. I’d rather see my friends more frequently and become more a part of the fabric of their lives than only seeing them the rare times they both have 3-4 hours consecutively to spare.

Not only is the frequency nice, but there’s something very intimate about picking up dry cleaning or going grocery shopping with a friend. I wish I could do more of that, as corny as it sounds. I recently went with my friend to pick up her son at daycare just so we’d get the brief drive to the daycare place together to talk, and it was so wonderful. Aside from our chat, I got to see a whole new side to  her life that I really appreciated.

Here’s to weaving our friends into the fabric of our everyday lives!

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