These days most people are juggling their job and their family life. Indeed, as you get older, it’s likely you’ll have more commitments compared with your younger days. And that could mean you don’t have a lot of time left for your friends. So even if you have every intention of staying in touch, it’s easy to neglect your friends and even lose contact with them altogether when life gets hectic.
But having good friends is important say experts, who believe strong social ties can keep you happy. Some studies even suggest having the support of friends, family and neighbours could boost your chances of living a long and healthy life by up to 50 per cent.
Thankfully, there are ways of maintaining your friendships, no matter how busy you are:
Connect via social media
Social networks such as Facebook may not be a substitute for real friendships, but they can help you keep in touch with people you don’t see very often and even reconnect you with friends you haven’t seen in years. But try to avoid posting mass status updates all the time – leaving personal messages for individual friends is much more meaningful.
Make a regular commitment
When you were younger, seeing friends was something that came naturally. Now, finding time to get together seems so much more difficult. But just because you can’t see your friends as often as you used to, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on your friendships altogether.
Try to figure out how often you and your friends can meet realistically – once a month, once every six weeks or once every eight weeks, for instance – and make a firm commitment (even if you decide to meet up once a year, it can help to keep your friendship alive, especially in the case of long-standing relationships). If you have sets of friends who know each other, making plans to meet up as a group instead of trying to see each individual friend on their own can be helpful too.
On the other hand, if you can’t get together in person, try organising regular Skype dates with friends who live far away. Make it a regular commitment and it will soon become a worthwhile habit.
Do the little things Few people with busy lives have the time for leisurely chats with friends on the phone. But it takes seconds to send a note by text or email; and most importantly, it lets your friends know you’re thinking of them. So whenever you come across something you find interesting on the internet, forward it to a friend who shares your views or your sense of humour. And remember, your friends may well appreciate a few words sent on a frequent basis than longer updates just once in a blue moon.
Be good at remembering
If you don’t check in with your friends that often, it’s easy to forget things like their birthdays and other anniversaries. You may think having a busy life is a good excuse, but others may view forgetting big dates as thoughtlessness. So aim to remember the important moments in your friends’ lives, including their birthdays, anniversaries, children’s birthdays and so on, and send them a card or a message on each occasion.
To make remembering easier, keep an up-to-date list of dates in your diary or use a anniversary/birthday reminder app on your smartphone, computer or digital device (try Digital Anniversaries, a free app available for Android and Apple devices).
Apologise for losing touch
We all know life can get in the way of our plans from time to time. So if you’ve been neglecting one or more of your friends, instead of letting the friendship fizzle out, call or write to them and tell them you’re sorry. It’s better to admit you’ve let things slip than to lose your friendship altogether.
Similarly, if you feel a friend is neglecting you, try to understand how easy it can be to lose track. Instead of waiting for them to get in touch with you, make an effort to contact them yourself. You could end up healthier and happier as a result.
For advice and information call +44 (0) 1788 556 366 or chat to an advisor online 24 hours a day.