I remember playing with friends all day long when I was younger. We would even skip lunch at times. All we would do was run through the fields and pretend to be Pocahontas or some other strong female character we adored. (There were many fights over who got to be the Pink Power Ranger.)
However, now that I am older and look back on those friendships, I feel a bit sad. I would have to honestly say that I spend almost no time with those I consider friends today. Maybe once a month, if I am being honest.
Why does this happen?
As we get older, our priorities in life shift. It is no longer a priority that I must run around my backyard, barefoot, like Pocahontas.
With life changing as quickly as it does, we lose touch and do not have the time for the friends of our youth or young adulthood, and this can be very sad.
William Rawlins, the Stocker Professor of Interpersonal Communication at Ohio University states:
“The real bittersweet aspect is young adulthood begins with all this time for friendship, and friendship just having this exuberant, profound importance for figuring out who you are and what’s next. And you find at the end of young adulthood, now you don’t have time for the very people who helped you make all these decisions.”
I feel this aspect deeply. I had two fantastic friends in high school. They were twins, and I would go over to their house all the time to watch movies, chat, and just hang out. We were not part of the cool group at school, but we were okay with that as long as we had each other.
Unfortunately, I have completely lost touch with them. My life took me in a different direction, and even a different country, and staying in touch became too difficult. I miss these two friends more than I miss any of my other friends.
Now, as an adult with two young children, I find I have no time for friends. Or, if I do have friends, they are the parents of my children’s friends or people I see once a week at church. But none of these friendships are nearly as strong as with the two friends I had in high school.
Why are friends important and how can we build strong friendships in adulthood?
Many studies have looked at the importance of friendship for adults, and the results are maybe a bit surprising. Adults who visit friends and family once a week tend to be more successful and happy with life. Building a circle of friends and spending time with those friends will more often than not make you happy. In addition, friendships can boost your immune system and help you achieve your weight loss goals. Friendships do a person a whole lot of good!
There seem to be two primary aspects that determine whether or not a friendship will last. Those are communication and dedication. Friends that communicate in a similar manner are more likely to remain friends as they grow older. It isn’t the frequency of the communication but the quality that is most important. Also, those who are more dedicated to the friendship and making it last are more likely to maintain that friendship.
Online communication is not enough to keep a friendship strong. You need to see, be, and interact with your friend in order to keep the relationship healthy.