Maintaining Healthy Friendships in your 30's and 40's
Quote on Friendship:
Friendship involves many things but, above all the power of going
outside oneself and appreciating what is noble and loving in
- 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.