When careers get busy or families start growing, the first thing to fall to the wayside is, often, friendship. That’s why ages 25-40 are the “friendship danger years.” Historically, if you could keep a friend through those years, you could count on being friends for life. That might be a bit different now that women are having kids later, but the general sentiment is that by 40 your kids don’t need 24/7 attention, your career has figured itself out, and you start to realize the importance of BFFs.
At 29, I find myself smack in the middle of this danger zone. I don’t have kids yet, but this is a big year for my career so a lot of my energy is spent working on my book and building a writing network. Not to mention the gazillion out of town weddings we’re attending. I love weddings (I’ve been known to rock the dance floor, just saying) and I wouldn’t miss the big day for any of my friends. But weekends away inevitably mean less time for the local friendships I’m trying to build.
My coping mechanism–or maybe it’s a defense mechanism–for this danger zone is to continue reaching out to friends and making plans whenever I can. It’ll occur to me that I haven’t seen Friend X in a while, so I’ll shoot her an email and get something on the calendar. I’m lucky to have monthly clubs–book and cooking–to ensure catch-up time. And when I know I can’t see someone, if she’s traveling or I’m traveling, I try to write emails.
What I’m wondering, though, is this: Is there a more interesting out-of-the-box solution to combating the friendship danger years? When your job is demanding and, maybe, your kids are moreso, are there tricks for carving out girl-talk time? After all, these are the years that we need friends most: they keep our marriages safe and our health in tact. They preserve our sanity. So I’m turning to you, readers, to see if anyone has fun tips or traditions that ensure they see their friends amidst the craziness of life. Maybe one night of the weekend, your partner babysits so you get to see the girls? Or you host a movie night once a month? Perhaps you started a kids playgroup just so you could see the other moms?
People are constantly requesting out-of-the-box tips for finding friendship time, so I figured I’d take it to the front lines: You. How do you make time for pals when work, family, and errands are all vying for your attention?
4 responses to “Carving Friendship Time”
I have to carve the time out…if I don’t, I find that I am helping with family errands (running my little brother places, just sitting around, no motivation) or watching television that I could easily tape or watch online as I work out…and since I work out at home and by myself, watching tv then is perfect because it doesn’t take up valuable “friend” time. I am also, sometimes, at the mercy of friends because I don’t really have my own space (being at home with my mom still) and so it’s usually easier to have catch-up time at their place or out somewhere.
But I also think that I need to work on asking my friends to do what I want because otherwise, I’m going to be doing things alone when I could be doing them with a friend…I’m slowly compiling things that I can be better about and hoping that I soon get the courage to start my search…
So, all in all – I carve time out. Not the most inventive thing to do, but it works and it gets me time to see friends. For friends that are far away, I try and do weekly (or bi-weekly) scheduled phone chats (in addition to any texts/chats that we have for random things that pop up). I actually don’t email with my friends a lot though – that’s something I’d like to try and do more…getting wordy here, time to stop and let other people with more inventive ideas chime in.
I think the dearth of comments says it all….most of us have NOT figured this one out yet!
You just have to make it a priority like anything else. As you get older I feel that friends become just like your family. They should become a part of what you do and who you are. I do think girls nights out are extremely important but more so are the random times you invite your friends to join in your activities. I find you bond more with people when things are less planned. If we have chosen others as friends then that means we love spending time with them. So invited them randomly to come over and watch a show, go for a walk, meet at a class…I feel not always planning things leads to more spontaneous fun which brings friends closer and more comfortable. Reach out to friends often so they arent just a date in your planner. Make them just a part of your life:)
I totally relate to this. I live in a city where I have a large number of friends because I went to grad school here and worked here, but not the city, NYC, that I am from (Rachel–we went to HS together). It is very hard because with all the weddings and travel home for family events, I am almost NEVER in the city I live in. Which leaves me feeling disconnected from both my friends where I live and my friends from home. I find it difficult too, b/c even when I try to be really good about maintaining relationships it is not always a two-way street, and then I will get the inevitable apology. Anyways, I find myself missing my friends from home and from where I live. I think it is hard when you are married, working and I think it will be even harder when I have kids or more of my friends do. Thanks for writing about this.