How do you maintain a new close friendship?
January 12, 2019 11:14 PM   Subscribe

How do you maintain a new close friendship without either flaming out or fading out?

So I seem to be making a new close friend, which is not something I have a ton of experience with as an adult. (I have some great friends but I'm pretty picky and idiosyncratic so it doesn't happen often, and I don't talk to most of them as much as I've been chatting with my new buddy.) How do I not screw this up?

It looks like my friend and I have done a lot of the things suggested in this Ask about building closer friendships and it's going pretty well! However, I've never been terribly successful at maintaining intense friendships. The last time I got this close to someone (texting or emailing each other a bunch most days, hanging with each other and our partners, just generally being in default contact most of the time) my friend ghosted me and it still makes me really sad years later. I also know sometimes people have tried to cultivate my friendship and I haven't followed up enough, and I don't want to drop the ball here. But this level of all-consuming connection doesn't seem sustainable (though it is intoxicating), and I don't like how anxious it makes me feel to always be checking my phone.

How do I get to a place where I feel confident in my new friendship but dial it back a little bit? Is it just going to take time? I know there are no rules for this sort of thing, but I welcome any suggestions.

(Note: You have my word there is no chance either of us wants this to be a romantic relationship but I suppose you can speculate about that if you must.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Find an activity you can do together on a regular basis to maintain contact, eg, an hourly walk twice a week, then dial back. Initially the contact will spur the friendship on then once it’s established you don’t have to do it so often because, hey, you’re friends. And yes, it will take time.
posted by Jubey at 2:55 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]

How did you come to acquire this friend? Is there a context involved like work? Usually friendships are held together via common activities or projects so you don't even really need to plan to meet. Do you share common interests?

Romantic connections didn't even cross my mind until you brought it up. Be careful since you're finding this situation to be intoxicating.

Also... don't forget the rest of your life! You said you're always checking your phone. What were you doing with your time before your friend came on the scene? Go back to doing those things.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 4:36 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]

One thing I do with all friends, old and new, is to invite them along to something I'm going to do anyway: "Heading out for a walk at 2:00 if you want to join me." Then the friend can make the choice to have more contact or not, and the event isn't freighted with any expectations.
posted by Elsie at 5:49 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]

I am with you. I don't think constant contact is sustainable and not necessary as an adult. Although, if you're enjoying talking and she is too, go for it. I think a lot of friendships can fade out because we say we're going to make plans but never do and we don't talk or text but only "like" or "comment" on social media.

A good way to dial it back is to make actual plans to hang out. A movie, or a walk, or a lunch, and then you can say "see you then" and not text so much and save your connection time for in-person. Repeat.
posted by loveandhappiness at 6:58 AM on January 13 [1 favorite]

As much peripheral connection as possible. You might not be able to sustain constant every-day contact, but a groupchat with the two of you and your partners + mutual friends? Totally possible. Groups you go to together, a standing lunch date, rituals where you two go to a new coffeeshop (or the same coffeeshop) on Sundays and that's like, your thing... Anything that seems like it'd take less effort to do.
posted by storytam at 9:59 PM on January 13

One of the things I've done to build and reinforce friendships is projects/activities that aren't just "hanging out." Getting dinner or grabbing drinks is fun, but at least for me, this builds connections that can easily dissolve when things get busy/one or both of us isn't in a great mood/etc. So, exercising, volunteering, doing art, doing an act of service for a mutual friend, etc. -- something that has value independent of your relationship - tends to make me feel closer.

I don't know if you are female, but the cheesily-named Friendships Don't Just Happen! book is one of the only books I've ever read on developing female friendships that has real, tangible steps and analyzes the different types of relationships women build with one another. (It's probably applicable to guys too, but it's written for women.)
posted by rogerroger at 10:11 PM on January 13

« Older I'd love to find a way for my daughter to meet...   |   I'm apparently even less straight than I thought.... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments