What are some tips for keeping friendships as an adult?
April 1, 2012 7:07 PM   Subscribe

How do I become even better friends with my friends?

Growing up I had trouble keeping friends in school. I was the shy one so all of my girlfriends would stick around for a bit and then leave me for more social and popular classmates. As a result I never really got to enjoy a good friendship and don't like to open myself up to people readily.

It wasn't until college that I found my few close friends who I still catch up with. However, with our busy schedules now it's difficult to see each other often. I'm at the age where I want to surround myself with genuine friends and know that there are people who care about me though we may not be blood related. So my question is, how can I build a stronger relationship with my current friends? And what are some tips for keeping friendships as an adult?

Also, my bf and I share some mutual friends who I really like, but they are closer to my bf since they are males. I'd like them to consider me as their "friend" and not just my bf's "gf". What are some tips for staying friends with guys?

Thanks :]
posted by flowers103 to Human Relations (14 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
You could start a regular, organized meeting (book club?) to ensure you're seeing everyone often. I've definitely had this issue as an adult, too, especially with most of my friends having kids now, but our book club does a good job of keeping us connected.
posted by something something at 7:28 PM on April 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have movie night or video game night or dinner night or game night.

Even better, have all of the above.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:38 PM on April 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sometimes guys like their friends to be their friends but not knowing more about y'alls dynamic it's hard to say. You may keep that in mind.

But regarding your main question, I went through this a couple of years back. I made a handful of good friends that I really wanted to keep. What I did was hardly ever refuse an invitation, even if it was something I wasn't in, which I previously would never do because I am pretty introverted, I like my me time. It became clear pretty quickly though that a good time can be had with good friends in about any situation. I also started inviting my friends along to things I formerly preferred doing by myself, like go to concerts, etc. I guess my point is, don't pass up an opportunity to spend quality time with quality people.
posted by holdkris99 at 7:45 PM on April 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is one of the best ways to strengthen friendships, though it needs to used judiciously: ask for help. People generally really do like to help other people -- it makes them feel useful and competent. So when someone offers to help you with something, accept. If there's something you could use help with, ask. Be sure to reciprocate, and to express gratitude without being obsequious. This is powerful -- don't overdo it. And be careful who you approach in this way -- if you give or accept help to someone you really don't want to be more closely associated with, you can find yourself all tangled up in relationships with inappropriate people.
posted by Corvid at 7:57 PM on April 1, 2012 [14 favorites]

Do things together. Invite people over. Organize events. Offer to help people when they need it. Nothing builds friendships like time spent together.

And I'm sorry but for a big part of the population, you are always going to be relegated to the status of "your boyfriend's girlfriend" to your boyfriend's male friends. This is a cultural propriety thing that you may not share, but lots of people do. I am a married man, and my wife and I are very good friends with another couple (they were over here earlier tonight for dinner, actually), and I would consider it completely innapropriate, for instance to send a text message to my friend's wife asking her about her day or any other such small talk, even though I regularly do things like this with her husband. Many of your boyfriend's friends will probably share this sentiment.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:48 PM on April 1, 2012 [4 favorites]

Make use of active listening skills, so that when you DO see them, they know they have your full attention.
posted by spunweb at 11:37 PM on April 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Find someone in your social circle who does regular parties. Or be that person. Then go, regularly.
posted by ead at 11:40 PM on April 1, 2012

Ask a lot of questions. Push beyond "What's up?" Something that helps with this if you call back details from previous conversations: "So last time we talked, you said you were going to a boxing class. How was it?" People are drawn to people who ask questions and listen instead of talking endlessly about themselves.
posted by guybrush_threepwood at 12:49 AM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a half dozen close friends who I've known and loved for 10 to almost 40 years. What's made our friendships feel special and enduring has varied a bit, but has included at least a couple of these:

1) I lived with them.
2) I dated them.
3) I worked with them in a rather intense work environment where we bonded closely mostly against people we disliked.
4) I knew them for many, many years, and as a result, we saw each other through difficult times, and through many changes.

The unifying things here I think are to spend a lot of time with someone and to go through something as a team. I also agree that for many of these relationships, we made a jump in intimacy when one of us had to ask for help and the other person provided it.

This stuff takes time.
posted by latkes at 1:35 AM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Organise get togethers - if you can arrange the sort of get togethers where people can come and relax and not worry about declining if they can't make it you will have a much easier time staying in close contact with people. Make a point of calling people who are further away - if you're all busy go so far as to schedule those calls. And yes, be sure to accept invitations of people you want to be in touch with, too.
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:50 AM on April 2, 2012

For any that don't live very close - the occasional hand-written letter.
It really is a lost art, and I've found people appreciate them very much.
(You may even get one back, but don't expect it.)
posted by Glinn at 8:47 AM on April 2, 2012

How do I become even better friends with my friends?

Do something awesome together that brings you closer.

While it's fun to just get together once in awhile (book club, trivia night at the bar, game night, whatever), you should plan something a little bigger.

Plan a trip together - go see something or someplace meaningful that you've always wanted to see. Go see Pike's Peak, or that awesome Etruscan exhibit, or the Picasso exhibition.
Run a race together - you can train for a marathon, or half marathon. Or, run a relay race together. I've done 2 Ragnar Relays with friends, and it was awesome. There are other relays all over the country.
Try something new that you've always wanted to do - learn to skydive, or get scuba certified, or try snow skiing.
Do a shared community effort - volunteer together, build a house for Habitat for Humanity, or go protest at Zuccotti Park.

The point is, do something worthwhile and memorable, so that every time they remember doing , they also remember you and associate those great memories with you.
posted by I am the Walrus at 10:53 AM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

My wife keeps up with a small group of her friends around the country viz-a-viz an "mp3 club" they've organized to help each other keep on top of good music. I think they basically go round robin, emailing the group individual songs throughout the year. At the end of the year, they've each compiled an 80-minute "mix CD" which they then review for each other in a completely non-serious way. Maybe not you kind of thing, but the shared-interests tack can be effective...
posted by bennett being thrown at 1:17 PM on April 2, 2012

Echoing I am the Walrus - You can have movie nights for a decade but it would barely match the camaraderie you would feel with someone you shared an intense one-day experience with.
posted by storybored at 8:48 PM on April 5, 2012

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