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Maintaining Healthy Friendships in your 30's and 40's

Updated on March 23, 2015
Good friendships foster a sense of shared support, the freedom to laugh or cry, and a joy that comes with belonging.
Good friendships foster a sense of shared support, the freedom to laugh or cry, and a joy that comes with belonging.

Quote on Friendship:

Friendship involves many things but, above all the power of going
outside oneself and appreciating what is noble and loving in
another.

- Thomas Huxley

How to Be a Good Friend

How to Stop the Mama Drama

In our 30's and 40's keeping up healthy friendships does get, along with everything else in life, a bit more complicated if not difficult. It is not that we love our friends any less, or stop needing to make new friends, it is just that our responsibilities and who we are responsible for are significantly more. If your girl situation of late is seeming like an episode of the Jersey Housewives, take a step back. How do we stop the mama drama?

Honor your Priorities

One thing that changes drastically in your 30's and 40's are your priorities. As long as you are up front about who comes first in your life, friends can not get reasonably angry when you must choose people and things (like your children and your sanity) over them at times. Where friend interactions used to be based on fun, as evidenced in articles like the Mayo Clinic's Friendships Enrich your Life and Improve your Health, now they can quickly turn into a game of who owes who what. It is important to remember that we are all operating under a lot of stress and the chaos of busy lives, especially as marriages and children come into play. Because of this, we are often not at our emotional best during these years, and neither are our friends. As such, it is important to take less than ideal interactions with a grain of salt. If your friends have to put you in second place at times, or are acting a little flaky or frazzled, a simple, "I understand," can go very far. Expect the same compassion in return. No one is perfect, and no one should understand this more, than a real friend.

Try Empathy When it Comes to Friendships

If your friend doesn't suddenly want to jump on your bandwagon when you have a plan, try to remember that we all have so many things going on and that this can certainly effect usual personalities and behaviors, as further explored in articles like Managing Stress for a Healthy Family at the American Psychological Association's website. No one knows exactly what another person is dealing with on a daily basis unless they can walk in their shoes. If your friend is not able to give you the amount of attention they once did or if they seem a little grumpier than usual, think about their lives, their kids, their circumstances and maybe you will be able to approach the situation with new perspective. After all, isn't that one of the best things about having a friend? That they can be supportive when things are tough?

Don't Overdrink with your Friends

If your girlfriend interactions end in more drama than fun, put the breaks on imbibing. Women are emotional to begin with and if alcohol is becoming a frightening factor in the frequency of emotional outbursts, remember that it is time to dial down the vino, or at least your own participation in its excesses. As evidenced in articles like Emotional Problems and Alcohol, we are reminded that even having one too many drinks can alter how one might normally react to a situation. You, at least, will be able to keep your head and excuse yourself from loaded situations much better with a clear mind.

Think Before you Talk

If some of your friends are making unfair demands on your time, or if you are similarly disappointed in a situation involving new friends, other moms, old friends, or family members, think before you talk. Often times, intentions can get misconstrued and situations that could be kept under control can quickly spiral to a bad place if you don't think before you speak. For tips on how to keep your cool, consult How to Think Before Speaking at Wikihow.com.

Accept Friends and All People for their Differences

Women are often trying to make people into who they are. However, everyone is different and truly, that is what makes people interesting and worth knowing. If you have a friend that is different from you, embrace their little quirks instead of talking about them behind their backs. If we all had a little more understanding, life would be a much easier place for us all. Always keep in mind that gossip hurts, as the article How Gossip Hurts a Friendship on About.com so aptly reminds us.

Know When to Quit on a Toxic or Difficult Friendship

If a relationship is becoming toxic to your mental health or is becoming a common annoyance in your daily life, perhaps it is time to take a break. Remember that friendships are two ways of support, love, and enjoyment and the reason we need our friends is because they make us feel good, as detailed in the smart article Why We Need Friends at online magazine Lifestyle Lounge. If you are not getting anything out of a particular relationship and seem to be the one giving and/or giving in a majority of the time, perhaps it is time to step back for awhile. In time, that friendship may just come around again, so try not to burn your bridges or be mean. Just simply pull back to regroup.

Guide to Maintaining Friendships

Maintaining healthy friendships can go far toward living a happy and fulfilled life.
Maintaining healthy friendships can go far toward living a happy and fulfilled life.

Do Your Friends Make You Happy?

As a woman in your 30's or 40's, does maintaining friendships cause you stress?

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    • amiebutchko profile image
      Author

      Amie Butchko 3 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Thanks, Beth, that is very wise and true advice. You are right. I think we do ebb and flow with our female relationships and yes, they do mean so very much to us as girls, and then as women.

    • profile image

      Beth37 3 years ago

      A mentor told me once something I have always remembered. She said, "Beth I have noticed, over the years, that women's relationships ebb and flow." She was right. Relationships don't stay the same, but if you don't sweat it, you can pick them back up again when the time is right and though they may not be what they were, they are still very special.

    • amiebutchko profile image
      Author

      Amie Butchko 3 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Dream On, thank you so much for sharing and taking time to read my hub. I do think there is great truth in your considerations - I have no doubt that your experience and feelings are common to many men. Yes, I think men mature so much from their childhood, of necessity, and as well, men are not as apt to share and keep in touch, like women do. Perhaps your friendships span time through common memories, but are not as necessary to fill needs in the moment anymore. It seems you still do have an appreciation for your old friendships at least, and that certainly has worth.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 3 years ago

      Men also can bond but for me my friendships did not last. We each found a greater love that we prefer better. Occasonally we still meet by coincidence or at a wake of someone we both new. We reminisce and talk about the old times and also share about our lives now. Keeping so busy time is never an option. We have moved pretty far from each other and I think we have changed and aren't the same people we use to be. Hanging out would make us regress and do the things we use to love and do so often. I have seen other friends that do both and are very happy. To each his own. You made me dig deeper into my past and present. Thank you so much.

    • amiebutchko profile image
      Author

      Amie Butchko 3 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Thank you so much, Dream On. It is true. Women need each other and friendships transcend the seasons of our lives. I love it.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 3 years ago

      I have seen the bonds of friendship change with my wife over the years. True friends find a way to stay friends and let nothing else get in their way. They spend time with their families and children but manage to keep the connection of years ago with friends they have grown up with through the good and the bad times. A wonderful hub and very good advice.