Advice Friendship

How to Maintain and Keep Your Friends After College

Either love ’em, or lose ’em.

Everything good in life takes work. So why is it that we treat our careers, romantic relationships, health and fitness, and other goals with care, but often fail to apply the same effort to our friendships? The truth is that if you don’t figure out how to keep friends intentionally, you’ll end up in a graveyard of friendships past. RIP.

From a young age, we believe that true friendships feel natural. As long as you have the same affinity for pop punk bands and different crushes, you’re golden. Putting in *real* effort is for romantic partners, not friends. After all, friends don’t dump you, right?

While it’s true to some extent that friendships should feel organic, compatibility does not replace effort. Even the best of friends require a phone call every now and then…otherwise they’ll end up having more inside jokes with their new bestie from work. Can your ego handle that? Didn’t think so.

How to Keep Friends - two girls laughing

How to Keep Friends in Post-Grad

Now that you can’t rely on the dining hall and campus bars to be your mutual watering hole, it’s time to get intentional about how you’ll maintain your favorite friendships.

1.  Determine which friendships are worth maintaining.

Unfortunately, there’s no realistic way for you to remain super-close with every pal you’ve ever had. Friends will come and go throughout the different seasons of your life, and that’s okay – we’re not suggesting that you maintain them all.

The important piece is deciding who is worth the effort. Some friends will end up becoming loose acquaintances over time, while others will rise in the ranks. And here’s a hint – reciprocation of effort in a friendship should factor into your decisions. Nobody likes a one-sided friend.

How to Keep Friends - two girls laughing

2. Use different modes of communication – especially with long distance friends.

Staying in touch with your buds doesn’t mean you have to plan weekly phone calls and quarterly visits (well, maybe you should see them more often if they live in your city). Those things are great to do, but there are plenty of other ways to show the love.

Different ways to connect include:

  • Texting
  • Voice memos
  • Instagram comments
  • Instagram DMs
  • Sending funny memes, TikTok videos, or really anything that makes you think of them
  • Snapchat
  • FaceTime

How to Keep Friends - FaceTime

3. Turn down the pressure.

Sometimes, the main barrier to staying in touch is that it feels like too much work. Getting on a two-hour phone call every time you want to catch up can be exhausting, and even the thought of it may be enough to dissuade you from reaching out.

While it’s important to give your friends attention, you also have to be realistic. Thanks to your hefty list of post-grad priorities, you can’t commit every free second to your friends’ daily drama. A true friend will understand that and be satisfied with a funny meme or check-in text.

How to Keep Friends - phone call

4. Don’t feel pressured to know every detail of your friends’ lives.

Have you ever felt that eerie guilt that results from not being fully aware of all the happenings in your friends’ lives?

“You got a new job?!”

“You aren’t friends with Anna anymore?”

“I didn’t know you broke up with him!!” 

Life is busy. People don’t always keep you in the loop, and you don’t always remember to ask. That’s completely normal as an adult. Not knowing a semi-major life update does not mean you aren’t a good friend, and the fear of being too out-of-the-loop shouldn’t prevent you from reaching out.

You don’t have to ask for a full debrief of everything that happened since you saw each other last before sending them a text about a silly situation at work that you know would make them laugh. Most people don’t even want to offer up a full rundown every time they have a conversation, anyways. They’d probably prefer to hear about your coworker’s cringe-worthy messages, tbh.

How to Keep Friends - coffee date

5. Be there for your friends when it really matters.

True friends are there for each other during important times. While you might not always be able to fly across the country to celebrate your bestie’s birthday, you should be there for her wedding. And while you shouldn’t have to drop everything each time they call, you should pick up the phone when they’re going through a tough time.

If it’s not possible to be there for your friends physically, showing support through extra communication and maybe even a gift goes a long way. Be there for your friends when they’re going through turbulent times and experiencing successes. You’ve gotta be a therapist and a cheerleader!

Not being there for a friend during one of these moments will put a strain on your relationship. People remember who showed up for them, and consistently ignoring your friends’ promotions, relationship changes, and other life events will put distance between you.

How to Keep Friends - supportive friends

Why does maintaining friendships matter during post-grad?

Putting effort into your friendships is important always, but especially so during those after college years. For perhaps the first time, your life is filled with disparate priorities.

Jobs, partners, pets, hobbies, self-care and even kids are all competing for your time…and if you don’t put some elbow grease into your friendships, they’ll fade away into the frenzy of post-grad life.

Not only do you have to make time for your local besties, but chances are you’ll also be keeping up with friends in different area codes. This can be really difficult when those friends are juggling their own newfound adult lives, too. Elon, we’re looking to you for innovation in the teleportation space.

This is not to say that every friendship requires daily touch points and surprise visits, but it is important to make sure your friends are on your list of priorities so you still have them when you need a shoulder to lean on. Otherwise, your future bridesmaid lineup is going to look pretty barren.

By Jess Lohr

Jess is a Cambridge-based, Syracuse-born twenty-something who loves coffee, dogs and stalking Zillow for her future home. Her favorite ways to kill time include strolling through Boston’s cobblestone streets, socializing over a glass of wine, and reading finance books (if only 22-year-old Jess were like this).

She has spent the past 4+ years working in Consumer Insights, and when she’s not working on her 9-5, you can find her pursuing her most recent side hustle as a dog sitter. Jess is co-founder of Adultescence, a podcast and lifestyle website with the mission of helping post-grads navigate adulthood.

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