friendship + family

The Fragile State of Adult Friendships

June 12, 2013

winne the pooh

I had an awesome Facetime date with my friend Keisha Breezy last night. KB lives in Toronto – in a different country on the other side of the continent. So needless to say, I don’t see her much. In fact, I’ve only ever seen her in person twice in the entirety of our 2 year friendship. We met at VSB’s Three Deez party in DC back in 2011, after having previously built a virtual friendship through VSB and Twitter. She’s one of a few faithful female VSB followers that I made through VSB, met in person at Three Deez, and have kept in touch with over the last couple of years. But like with KB, we all live in different cities and depend on the wonderful world of wifi, and 3/4G to stay in touch.

Living in different cities, from the inception of our friendship, has required us to put effort into maintaining some sort of communication, since we won’t ever just run into each other on the street or see each other at work/school. So to keep up with what’s going on in each other’s lives (in more detail that can be shared via social media), we schedule phone/Skype dates. And I mean literally scheduled and marked in our calendars – carving out time beforehand and putting priority in making the phone/Skype date. This has to be done, otherwise it’s always “Let’s talk soon!” or “We have to catch up some time!” – and soon or some time never comes!

And that is the state of my adult friendships – having to make time for my friends is something I have to make time for! KB and I talked about this last night when we spent almost 3 hours chatting, philosophizing, and ranting over Facetime while periodically breaking to adore and gush over her 8mo son. I had so much work to do last night, work that should have been completed last week, but I didn’t put this phone date (which had already been rescheduled from an earlier date) on the back burner. I need to be connected to my friends, in one way or another. They are important to me and I don’t want to be too busy for friends.

But it’s very difficult! I live 2-3 time zones from ALL but 2 of my closest friends. And I work late many nights, or have evening commitments – so by the time I’m home, most of my friends are asleep. Plus, most of us are professionals and have busy work schedules. Those of my friends who are in committed relationships and/or have kids, have the added busyness of family life to juggle as well. And many of us are involved in various organizations and sports, so there’s always something “extra” on our schedules. Adult life is busy and hectic. I can hardly find the time to get the sleep I need to do the work I’m responsible for, and now I have to make the effort to keep up with my friends too?!?! WHAT IS THIS GROWN UP LIFE ABOUT?!?!

When I was in school (just last year), it was easy to spend time and catch up with my friends (the ones in the same city, anyway). There wasn’t a week that went by that I didn’t have some interaction with one or more of them. Even at the craziest time of my life (writing my dissertation), I managed to be pretty connected to friends. I had people there when I needed them – be it a shoulder to lean on, an ear to complain in, or a hand to high five. It was really sad for me when friends started to graduate/get promoted and move away to another city, because it became much more of an effort to see or talk to them.

And now I’m the one who graduated and moved away for a job. Now I’m isolated from the rest of my friends. While I’ve made some friendly acquaintances since living in Portland, I still need and desire those other friendships. But tapping into them is so much more of a chore now. And I hate that it has to be this way. Adulthood is so whack! So many responsibilities!!!!! *shakes fist and wall slides*

I am, however, determined to make my friendships last. The people who I call “friends” are friends for a reason. And I just have to continue to make the effort to keep them healthy and meaningful.

Here’s what I currently do to keep myself in tune with friends:

  • GroupMe chats: I have about 3 GroupMe chats that I use to keep in touch with friends. I try to pop into these at least once a day to say hi to my girls and see how they’re doing and/or share something interesting/weird/sad/hilarious happened. This is a great way for multiple people to be connected at once. So much better than individuals texts because the convos can be so dynamic and life-giving.
  • Twitter & Facebook: I’m a social media addict so I love using social media for the way it was intended – to be connected to people. Especially people you don’t normally keep in touch with (i.e. high school classmates who you like but aren’t besties with). I love being able to have access to people that are far away, and be able to do so on my own time. There’s no pressure for me to be on Twitter/Facebook all the time or at certain times. Although there are certainly down sides to this form of communication, I enjoy it when I’m using it.
  • Skype/Facetime: I hate talking on the phone. Having the phone to my ear irritates me. But I LOVE to use video technology to see and talk to people. It’s not something I do often, and I have to actually schedule the time to do it, but it’s fun and meaningful when I do do it. I wish I had more time for it but it’s probably my favorite way to spend a few hours catching up with some one.

I can’t be the only one who feels adulthood is trying to ruin my ability to keep friends. How do you keep up with your friends? Do you find it hard to make time to keep/catch up with people? Do you have friendships that have suffered as you’ve gotten older, perhaps do to time and/or distance?

Friends before… ends,

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  • Reply Wu Young, Agent of M.E. June 12, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    The adulthood/friend thing can be dicey. My junior year of high school my debate coach Mr. Siren warned our circle of friends, which included my brother who is a year older than moi, that we would all go our seperate ways once we went to college, the military,or whatever. Fortunately he was wrong. Our crew for the most part has endured and in an odd situation come to include various friends that we all attended college with.

    Honestly, it is daunting to keep up with each other. Some of us are married with kids, getting married, being deployed, or hiding but facebook and texting have aided us greatly. A few of us are on twitter and that helps too. Sure we don’t always get to have long, drawn-out “bull sessions” as Mr. Siren called them but we’re still close enough to know when we get the random phone call at a random time and hear a disturbance in each others’ voices that something is wrong.

    I’ve had a few who people whom I referred to as “friends” that have drifted apart but I know that happens. We grow up and life takes us different places. As a guy who doesn’t make friends all that easy I”m thankful for the ones I’ve had and have.

    • Reply gemmieboo June 12, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      thanks for sharing! that’s awesome you all have stayed connected and made your friendship last. especially since making “new” friends as you get older is harder and not as fulfilling or satisfying.

  • Reply mzninasoul June 12, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Its true Gem and as you get older and obtain more responsibilities it gets harder. 2 of my girlfriends since 7th grade and I formed CCS (conference call Saturdays) a few years ago to catch up. Its the same time every Saturday. Sometimes we do miss it because again life changes but we make it a point to stay connected. Is it tough? absolutely…… but I’ve realized that being without good friends for a long period of time was detrimental to my sanity lol – sometimes virtualness (yes I made that up) is just not enough so we plan yearly trips or I usually go home to Cali 2-3 times a year. I can be honest and say because I’ve l lived in 3 different states my friendships have definately suffered and a few ended; some for the best actually (sad but true). Hopefully for most, adulthood comes with more resources to make those scares in-person connections quality time somewhere enjoyable for all to make lasting memories. But its hard none the less.
    Thanks for this I need to make some phone calls 🙂

    • Reply gemmieboo June 12, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      i love that you guys have conf calls every week! thats awesome!! i may have to set something like that up with a couple groups of friends – although the groupme often serves as our conf calls.

      and yes, distance can kill those friendships that needed to be deaded. and i guess in some ways thats good. but i hate when my true blue friends have to suffer because we no longer live convenient lives to keep the friendship thriving. but i guess that’s just life and you either do or dont make things work (be it friendships, romantic relationships, or whatever).

  • Reply Brandi June 12, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    I know exactly what you mean! I’ve always been the person who tries to keep in touch with friends. Lately I’ve been falling down on the job because I feel as if some don’t make the same effort. When I am feeling particularly chatty I use Twitter, Facebook, What’s App and Skype.

    • Reply gemmieboo June 12, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      yeah, its definitely trying when you want to stay connected more than others. meet me half way!

  • Reply miss t-lee June 12, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    My two closet friends live about 3 hours from me. Although we probably only see each other once or twice a year, we talk a few times a week–mostly by phone. Another close friend lives in Seattle (2 time zones away) and we talk by phone at least once a week.
    As you’ve stated, it does take work to maintain friendships, especially when you have lots of other things going on around you. However it definitely takes both parties to make it work, and to keep a friendship intact.

    • Reply gemmieboo June 12, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      it takes two – absolutely. and thankfully most of my friends make the same effort. and sometimes, honestly, i am one of the ones who doesnt put in enough effort. im trying to work on this though…

  • Reply Sope June 12, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    I think as I got older I learned that being away from your friends really shows you who matters to you. My 3 closest friends and myself all live in different places. Two of us aren’t even in the US!(Houston, NYC, Jamaica, Grenada) We are able to connect via WhatsApp, but it can still be tough. 2 are in Med School, I am in grad school slated to start Med in August and the last one is working full time getting ready to apply for PA school. It can get really rough because we miss each other physically, but we are able to stay informed and support one another through the wonder of technology. It’s awesome though because we don’t stress one another if we don’t speak for a while (generally a few days) because each of us knows that we are all pursuing our goals. That level of support is invaluable,

    On the other hand, I have many friends in Houston that I miss, but I find that I just can’t be bothered to spend that same level of effort to stay connected with them. Moving away for school, to Grenada, has shown me that even though you love and care for someone, your friendship might be one of convenient proximity. I guess that’s another part of adulthood. You learn which friendships are lifelong and beneficial and which ones just might be for that particular season.

    Great post though! I’m glad to see them coming back around. 🙂

    • Reply gemmieboo June 12, 2013 at 3:44 pm

      yes! there are absolutely friends that we have for certain reasons and seasons. and its a waste of time to try and maintain a friendship that wasnt meant to last past a certain expiration date. part of maturing is knowing who those people are.

      and thanks for commenting and the encouragement 🙂 i’m trying to get back on track. ive missed getting this type of insight from people

  • Reply madscientist7 June 12, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    i felt the same way about a lot of my friends from grad school. since i’ve moved its hard keeping in touch with them. its a lot harder too when you’re a male. males don’t really like talking on the phone like that let alone skyplng with each other. i made some great friends while in grad school but we’ve determined to all get together at least once a year. now that my other friends are leaving nashville (and moving to different cities across the country) we’ve resolved to pick a different city for all of us to get together in. i believe 2014 is los angeles or las vegas.

    i like groupme as well. we have a groupme called B.J.S. (black jersey shore). don’t ask me which cast member i was dubbed as. lololol

    • Reply gemmieboo June 13, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      hmm is it really a gender thing?? i know so many men who have these life long friends that they regularly keep up with so i never thought of them as not being phone ppl but i dont really know their communications i guess.

      i think its great you and your friends make resolves to get together once a year and all be in the same place at the same time. being intentional about your friendships at our age is so necessary. and west coast gathering sounds super fun – warm and pretty, cant beat that.

      we def want to know which cast member you are… dont worry we’ll wait lol

  • Reply msevahoney June 12, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Welcome back! It’s funny that this subject came up. Just last week I went into a mild depressive state because I miss my friends. I have three besties that I talk to almost daily but it is not the same. One lives here but is married with kids so the time we spend together is limited.The other two are in other states. As you get older you change as well as your priorities. I have made a great friends online (#RGS) that will probably be my friends for life. I stay in touch via skype,text, and phone. I have not been on it as of late with a new job and boo but i will do better. This is a little jumbled cause on the phone now with a bff lol
    Great post

    • Reply gemmieboo June 13, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      thanks for the warm welcome love 🙂

      having your friends far away is so sad, isn’t it?? like, i cant just pop by their house when i need a pick me up. or meet them at our favorite bar for wing night. and when you add on the complexity of finding time just to catch up with them, its really emotionally crippling.

      new job AND new boo huh?? yeah, we need a skype date lol.

  • Reply dtafakari June 12, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    I find that marriage and motherhood have drastically changed how I interact with my friends. I have to be much more purposeful about spending time with them, whether it is via electronic or face-to-face communication. I don’t want to be the friend people stop reaching out to because her whole life got in the way.

    • Reply gemmieboo June 13, 2013 at 3:46 pm

      ive heard so many wives/mothers say this same thing. and im a little worried that my struggle with keeping up with my friends will get even worse when i have a family. yikes!

      but i have a few friends who are wives/mothers who manage to still keep their friendships alive and well and make it a point to stay in the loop and be present. but its intentional and purposeful.

  • Reply justmecali June 13, 2013 at 10:01 am

    I love this omg. 29 was a very defining year for me as far as friendships were concerned and I realized instead of me trying to put effort into friendships that weren’t beneficial and were completely one sided. I decided to spend more time focusing on those friendships I do have and making us stronger no matter the distance. I want to be that person that someone talks to no matter what they are going through and to a few people I am. If someone would have showed me my circle now 10 years ago I would have cursed them out, I see things through a different light now and I am more opened minded when it comes to friendships. No one is too busy to respond to text messages it only takes a minute but people making keeping in touch soo hard these days omg. Thanks for sharing this. O and i have to respond to your text ok ok i will soon and if you could fit me in for a skype session that would be AWESOME. Love Ya chick and continue to post things that challenge minds.

    • Reply gemmieboo June 13, 2013 at 3:48 pm

      yes i feel you. friendships have to be prioritized just like anything else. but even staying in text communication can be tricky – it can be for me at least. sometimes i get so wrapped up in what im doing that i see a text and think “i’ll respond to this later when i can attend to it without all this other stuff going on” and then you forget and then you remember days later like dammit! there is no one that i actively avoid, but i accidentally neglect soooo many text messages lol. its something im trying to work on but its all a process.

      love you back sis! i’m all for a skype date!!!!

  • Reply To Prune or Not to Prune | That's What GEM Said June 13, 2013 at 2:49 pm

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