Liz Morrison, LCSW
When Friendships Change – How to Maintain Friendships After College
You made a great group of friends in college. Maybe you stayed in touch with some friends from high school. Perhaps you’ve made some new friends after graduation. But then things change.
Friendships in young adulthood are difficult to maintain. No one teaches you how to maintain friendships after college. When friendships change, know that it’s normal. Everyone’s lives change as they grow up. You meet new people, have new jobs, move away, marry and start families. It’s impossible for things to stay the same.
You’re not alone when it comes to figuring out how friendships change in adulthood. The key is not to feel despair for the loss of the friendship you used to have. Embrace the new times in your lives. Learn how to be there for each other through the changes that come with growing up. Becoming an adult is difficult, and you need your friends to help you through. Friendships in young adulthood are incredibly important for your mental health.
How to Maintain Friendships After College
These days, one of the best ways to maintain friendships is through technology. Texts, phone calls, FaceTime, Zoom – you name it, it’s possible. Group chats with your friends are a great way to keep in touch. You can catch up on what’s going on with each person, share things with the group about your life changes, etc.
When friendships change, it’s usually because one or both of you have had major life shifts. Keeping in touch can be difficult, which is why technology is so helpful. If you and your friends live in different places, texting and FaceTiming can really help you maintain friendships after college and into young adulthood.
If you and your friends live in the same area, try having dedicated times when you get together. Make an effort to reach out, even when you’re busy, to see how your friends are doing.
Remember that not everyone is good at keeping in touch. You might be one of those people who finds it hard to initiate conversations or invitations to get-togethers. That’s okay, although it’s worth a try to step out of your comfort zone every now and then to reach out. If you’re always the initiator, understand that your friends may not be good at starting a conversation. That doesn’t mean they don’t want to talk to you.
Friendships in young adulthood can be difficult to navigate for many reasons. Try not to take it personally when you don’t hear from someone for a little while. They may be under a lot of pressure at work or busy with their young family. Whatever the case, do your best to reach out when you can. Set up regular FaceTime or Zoom dates. Try to get together for happy hour or coffee. Do things together as a group that are fun and get you out of your busy lives for a little while. Make time for each other.
How Friendships Change in Adulthood
Adult friendships beyond college are different than when you were 20. They become deeper and more meaningful. Not all friendships last the test of time. You know who your true friends are the older you get because they’re the ones who remain there for you.
In young adulthood, you’re figuring out who you are. You’re making life changes that can be big or small. Either way, you’re growing and changing. Your friendships are affected by those changes.
The friends who are there for you as you get older are your true friends. As you grow up, some of your friends from high school and college will fall away. That’s normal. It doesn’t mean your friendships didn’t matter. Some people are in our lives at certain times for specific reasons. Not all friends will stick around. But the ones that do are worth keeping.
Friendships in young adulthood change because you change. Your friends change. When you start a new job or move to a new city or get married and start a family, it’s impossible for the friendship to remain the same. But the good news is that your friends are changing too, and you get to share each other’s new adventures!
What to Do When Friendships Change
When you learn how friendships change in adulthood, it can be a hard lesson. The first thing you can do when a friendship seems to shift is to give it some time. Allow your friends the space to figure out the stuff they’re going through while you sort out your own situation.
If a friendship has changed in a way that makes you feel bad, try to see the situation from both sides. It’s important to acknowledge what might be going on in your friend’s life that’s made the friendship different. Maybe you’re the one who’s changed. Or maybe it’s both of you. Take a step back and try to look at the whole picture.
Once you’ve determined what made the friendship change, talk with your friend. Be open about how you feel. Listen to what they have to say. If your friend has backed off because they’ve been stressed at work and don’t have time for a social life right now, accept their truth and remember that it’s not personal.
Finally, be open to meeting new people. Just because you’re becoming an adult doesn’t mean you can’t make new friends. Join clubs, try Meetups, or talk to new people at social gatherings. You never know where or when you’ll make a new friend.
Sometimes, friends outgrow one another. If that’s the case, it’s hard not to take it personally. It’s also normal. Counseling can help you sort through your feelings about what happens when friendships change. We encourage you to seek therapy for learning how to maintain friendships after college and how that affects your mental health.
We know it can be difficult figuring out how to maintain friendships after college. If you’re looking for support for friendships in young adulthood, we’re here to help. Book a free consult to talk to our professional social workers today.