It’s a new year, a time that calls out to us and says, “Take notice!”—reminding us to appreciate our lives and to do the things we would regret not doing.
One of those things is maintaining our friendships.
In 2012, Bronnie Ware, a palliative nurse, recorded the most common regrets of her dying patients. One of the top five regrets: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Charles Caleb Colton said, “True friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it is lost.”
Friendship is not something to take lightly. Friends make us laugh, help us talk through problems, join us for adventures, and encourage us when we’re feeling discouraged. Friends can make your life easier by helping you out with things you can’t manage alone. Friends can inspire you to take on challenges that could improve your life, such as running a marathon, going to a speed-dating event, or doing a weight-loss program together.
As Helen Keller once said, “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”
Friendships Are Good for Your Health
Numerous studies have shown that friendship can be good for a person’s health. The health benefits reported in these studies include lower blood pressure, strengthened immune systems, and decreased stress.
An Australian study showed that people with strong social networks lived longer. The study suggested the need for the development of strategies to promote the establishment and maintenance of such relationships in later life.
Why Do We Lose Touch with Friends?
There are times when we stop being friends due to incompatibility, toxicity, or an irreparable injury. In those cases, it may be in your best interest to sever such relationships. But with good friends, sometimes we lose touch simply due to lifestyle changes.
Marriage can disrupt friendship connections as spouses become more dependent on each other, and less so on friends, for meeting their social needs. With the arrival of children, many women experience a decrease in the number of friendships due to the demands of parenthood. Additionally, preoccupation with career development can leave little time to spend with friends.
Busy schedules, long distances, and feelings of resentment about the infrequency of contact all contribute to the distance that can grow between friends.
How to Stay in Touch
Make the time! Remind yourself of the importance of friendship and then make the effort to stay in touch.
Forgive yourself for being an imperfect friend who disappears into a busy life. Some friends may be disappointed that you aren’t more available, but good friends would rather have some of you than lose you entirely.
Don’t get caught up in resentment or hurt feelings due to a friend’s lack of initiative to connect.
Staying in touch can fit your lifestyle. A little bit can go a long way. Calling, emailing, hosting a party, planning a trip, and using social media are all good ways to stay in touch. Accept invitations from friends whenever possible. Sometimes you do have to make your friendships a priority.
Don’t get caught up in resentment or hurt feelings due to a friend’s lack of initiative to connect. Some friends may just be bad at staying in touch. If you are better at staying in touch, let that be your contribution to the relationship.
Judge the relationship on the other person’s happiness to hear from you, rather than on his or her friendship management skills. Keep in mind, though, that if every attempt to reconnect with someone begins with a criticism of his or her absence, he or she may eventually lose joy in hearing from you.
It’s a new year—a good time to check in with old friends.
- Giles, L.C., Glonek, G.F.V., Lusczc, M.A., & Andrews, G.R. (2005). Journal of Epidemiology & Community Mental Health, Vol 59(7), 574-579 doi:10.1136/jech.2004.025429
- Monsour, M. (2002). Women and Men as Friends: Relationships Across the Life Span in the 21st Century. Mahwah, NK: Erlbaum.
- Valeo, T. (2007). Good Friends Are Good for You. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/good-friends-are-good-for-you
- Ware, B. (2012). The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc.
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