Adult friendships. They can be difficult. Women friends. Man Friends.
When we were young, friends were all around us: at school, in the neighborhood, for some of us at church. Some were closer than others. The standard for me was pretty low. If you liked to dig in the dirt, you deserved my friendship. If you liked to play chase or run around, we were good! Over time, kids grant trust to one another and learn to have fun together.
As we get older, having meaningful relationships can be tough. Life gets busy. Work gets in the way. Kids take a TON of time.
We all know older folks, men especially, who don’t have real close friends. Somewhere along the way, we get burned in a relationship. The pain is too great. It is much easier to move on and fly solo without taking the risks and time it requires to develop close friends.
Our culture sells us on the myth that products will bring what we lack relationally, but the more products we buy, the more miserable we often find ourselves.
Here is one problem with flying alone: at some point in life, you will be faced with tragedy. Odds are, you will experience loss, hardship or some form of tragedy at some point in life. You need relationships with other people who can walk with you during these times. Not to mention, life is a LOT more fun when you share in the good times with good friends. I could list a dozen other reasons for having good friends as an adult, and perhaps you could offer a few as well.
Here are a few tips for cultivating authentic adult friendships:
Forgive. Many of us have never forgiven past hurts from others or even from decisions we have made personally. Forgive those who have hurt you in the past so you can heal and move on.
Be intentional. Make the decision that you are going to develop meaningful relationships with others. You may have to adjust your pace in life, your workload or whatever.
Clarify what is important to you. What are your values? Know what is important ton you so that as you look for relationships with others, you will know what you are looking for.
Get out. Are you passionate about being active? Join a running group. Love being a parent? Hook up with other moms in your town. Want to grow spiritually? Join a small group at a local church. Want to build relationships with people that are not a part of church? Spend some time in a local bar or pub. There are tons of other ways to meet other people. Chances are, there are others around you that you would enjoy spending time with. Look around.
Find a rhythm. As a dad of two little girls and a pastor of a growing, vibrant church, my time is pretty limited. I put my family before any other priorities, so I have set some pretty tight boundaries on how I spend my time. Nonetheless, I try my best to make time for relationships with a few. Just yesterday, some friends and I planned “Wing Night” on a Thursday night after the kids are in bed. I have found a rhythm that works. Find one that works for you!
Ok, so those are a few thoughts on developing friendships as an adult. I’m not great at it, I’m learning. I don’t want to be the guy with no one at my funeral some day. I don’t want to be someone who didn’t leave a legacy behind with family and friends. I don’t want to be the old man that has shut his life off to everyone but David Letterman. Not that Letterman isn’t a decent guy…
TWO Questions for you: 1. Why is it so tough to build friendships as an adult? 2. What suggestions do you have for developing meaningful friendships as an adult?