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Maintaining Friendships when Life Gets Busy

When life gets busy, there are plenty of ways we can put forth a little extra effort to keep the bonds of friendship strong.

Hey there, Hannah-Beth’s readers! My name is Catherine. How’s it going? I won’t lie, I’m a bit stressed...

I just finished my first year at Stanford, and the one thing I worry about the most going into sophomore year is how I am going to keep in touch with my friends from freshman year. I was lucky enough to have lived in a dorm with 98 amazing researchers, athletes, musicians, artists, engineers, activists, and academics, nine-or-so of which over the course of the school year ended up becoming my closest and dearest friends. 

We loved spending time with each other, and living in the same dorm made it easy to do so constantly. (I’m sure anybody else who has made a great dorm-friend knows exactly what I’m talking about.) We ate meals together, we worked out together, we partied together, we cried together…and—the tell-tale test of any true friendship—we cuddled together. 

I clicked with these people like I’ve never clicked with anyone else before, so I can’t help but worry that next year, when we’re living in different quarters across campus, we might slowly drift out of contact with each other as classes pick up and life gets busy again. 
Don’t get me wrong, growing apart from others in life is normal. I feel very strongly about that. But I also believe that when you find a truly spectacular friendship (or any kind of relationship), it’s worth the extra effort to make it work. After all, sometimes life strews you across campus—or the world—and it’s nobody’s fault.

Luckily for my friends and me, there are several things people can do to keep the bonds of friendship strong, even when the circumstances and busyness of our day-to-day lives seem to corrode them. Below, I’ve included my favorite seven.

1. Dine together 

Friends who eat together stay together! We all eat three meals a day— why not eat them together? By agreeing to meet up with a friend for lunch, dinner, brunch, or even coffee or a smoothie, you can make the most of your time. Even a short, 20-minute catch-up session allows both of you to chit chat and decompress without taking a huge chunk out of your busy schedules.

2. Take a low-unit class together

 One creative way to spend time with the people you care about while being productive is to enroll in a super casual, low-key class together. This can be anything from wine tasting to sailing to drawing and painting. You’ll get units towards graduating— and can even fulfill General Education requirements— as you enjoy each other’s company! 

3. Do your chores together

Next time you need to run to the grocery to grab some milk or go to the student store to buy a new book, call up a friend and ask if they want to join! Don’t worry about it being a last-minute, random call. It shows that you’re thinking of them, even during your busy schedule.

4. Join a club together

What interests do you and your friend have in common? Or better yet, what would you both like to learn more about? Sit down with a list of all the clubs and organizations offered at your school and agree to try out one or two. Going to club meetings and events will allow you to both spend time together in the future, while earning awesome resume-building extracurricular bonus points!

5. Get in a routine

If you and a friend both agree that you’d like to stay in touch more this year, agree to get on a schedule together. For example, you can agree that every second Sunday of the month, the two of you will get brunch at your favorite cafe together. When you agree to a routine, each person is accountable for putting in the effort to keep close ties, even when life gets busy.

6. Set a goal and stick to it

If you want to maintain and build more friendships instead of letting so many slip through your fingers, a good place to start is with a goal. Is your goal to build new friendships this school year? If so, a good goal might be to make the effort to get lunch with 4 acquaintances per semester. (After all, all friendships start out as acquaintances!) If your goal is to maintain the meaningful friendships you already have, perhaps a good goal would be to meet up with each of those friends once every two weeks, or even once a month.  

7. For long-distance friendships, a text message goes a long way 

Maintaining long-distance friendships when life gets busy may be the hardest of all. Luckily, all it takes is a text message, a voicemail, or even a quick snapchat to show someone you’re thinking of them. If you have some more time, schedule a time to talk over the phone for half an hour. When it comes to long-distance, showing that you’re putting in effort is the key.

As I write this list today, Dear Reader, I remind myself that it doesn’t take a ridiculous amount of effort and planning to stay in touch with the people we care about. I’m personally excited to start planning weekly brunches with my friends at our favorite dining hall.

It's not our fault that life gets busy sometimes. But great friendships are like treasures, and believe me, they’re worth putting in the little extra time to make it work.

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