Self Love over 4 years ago by Liz Adams

Maintaining Your Friendships As You Get Older

one year wedding anniversary

Experiencing the transition of friendships is rough. I’ve gotten a handful of questions about this topic for Coffee with Liz and I thought it deserved its own blog post. Personally, this is something that I’ve struggled with as my life has transitioned the past few years. 

My closest friends are my best friends from high school. After college we all moved back to the city, we all lived together or within blocks of each other in Lincoln Park (for 8 years!) and we have always been each other’s sounding boards, sisters and partners in everything. Over the past 10 years, some of us have gotten married, some have moved away to chase their dream jobs, some are dating and working in the city and some have had kids and moved to the suburbs. Any transition can cause a strain on relationships but it wasn’t until I had kids that I noticed a change. 

I was one of the first of my friends to have a baby. When I was pregnant I always said “motherhood isn’t going to change me! this baby is just going to become an accessory to lives we already live!” I thought I would own motherhood and Dave and I would find a seamless way to introduce Charlie into our lives. When I had Charlie I was a mess. I was sad and I felt lost in the new life I was trying to navigate. When I didn’t own my roll as a mom right away, I felt discouraged and I kept those feelings to myself instead of asking for help. My friends would come to meet Charlie and I would put on a happy face and everything seemed fine! I think this isolated me a little bit in those first three months. I didn’t make plans, I just sort of went through my days to check them off the calendar. Charlie was born in September and I feel like I didn’t come up for air until February/March. Dave would go out with our friends and I would stay home with Charlie. I was comfortable and I started to feel better as a mom. When we finally started exploring the city together, I was drawn to other moms! I wanted to talk about motherhood, babies, emotions—everything (I love talking about being a mom, it’s my favorite). My conversations shifted, my priorities shifted and suddenly the time I had left to spend on a social life was slim to none. 

The less I reached out, the less I heard from my friends. My friend Alex and I both had little boys within 8 weeks of one another and kind of clung to each other. On weekends we grabbed an early bird dinner at 5pm to be home for 6:30pm bedtime, it was rare that we got a babysitter because hungover mornings were not worth the $$ and all of a sudden a year went by and I had only seen my friends a handful of times. There was a point where my feelings were hurt that they didn’t really know Charlie, that this huge life change had happened for me and I felt like they weren’t a part of it. Do I wish they would have asked how I was doing more? Yes. Should I have been more proactive in reaching out to them? Yes. Because we’ve all been friends for so long, I think the sudden change (the biggest life change!) kind of threw everyone for a loop. I also believe that you don’t know what you don’t know. I had no idea having a baby would totally shift my life in an unexpected but wonderful way. I welcomed the change but it was also isolating at times. The same for my girlfriends without kids—how could they relate to my life now when they still have the freedom to do whatever they want? My girlfriends and I have had numerous conversations about the transition since then and I think we’ve all accepted that things have changed. It is no one’s fault, it’s just the progression of life and it takes time to accept. But having the conversation has strengthened our relationships even more. Although socially our lives may look a little different, my girls from high school are my most trusted advisors. There is no one else I would call. 

Dedicate and put in the time for the friendships that are important to you. My time is valuable and between family life and work life, I don’t have a ton of time to dedicate to half-ass friendships (I’m just going to lay it all out there). If you are a good friend then I’m going to dedicate the time to nurturing our relationship. If that isn’t the case, that’s ok, too! I’m not saying it has to be black or white but my time is precious, my relationships are precious and unless you’re going to be a positive in my life then I’ve realized it’s okay to let some friendships go. I think this is the biggest thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older. I was always the one to keep the peace, keep connections and so on but the truth is we change! We grow and we change and our priorities and lives change too. Certain people are instrumental during specific stages of our lives and then they are not. I’m forever grateful for those friendships but when I think about who I was in high school, in college, even the first few years after college—I’m the same but I’m also different. I think it’s okay to accept the change for what it is and let go of relationships that don’t make you happy. It doesn’t have to mean that those people won’t come back into your life later on but you just have to do what is best for you in the moment. Whether you’re a new mom, single and living it up in the city, dating, living in the suburbs with grown kids—whatever it may be—I think this concept is important for everyone. Do what makes you happy, listen to your gut, nurture the relationships that are important to you, voice your concerns, stick up for yourself. This is important from all sides! The best kind of friendships are the ones that make your heart happy, support you, and make you want to give that same feeling back to them. We all know how important our relationships are with our girlfriends so make sure you treat them well. 

5 Tips for Maintaining Your Friendships 

  1. Keep communication open. I think it is easy to place blame when no one is really taking accountability for the situation. Voice your concerns! Your friends are your friends for a reason. 
  2. Don’t put so much pressure on the relationship. If you have to work for it, then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate.
  3. Accept the stage of life that you’re in. A major issue with our friends was ignoring the fact that change was happening at all. Once we welcomed the next phase we were all so much more supportive of each other!
  4. Don’t feel guilty. I spent a lot of time feeling guilty. Like I wasn’t doing enough to nurture my friendships but the truth is I barely had time to take a breath. Accept the stage of life that you’re in, give yourself grace and do what is best for yourself. You have to be your own best friend first!
  5. Make an effort. If the friendship is important to you then do whatever you can to make sure that person knows!

Have you experienced this? How do you deal with it? I’d love to get some conversation going in the comments!

Photos of my beautiful bridesmaids and best friends from our wedding day!

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  1. I love this and it is so true! I belong to a group of close knit girlfriends. When I had my first there was 3 of us pregnant and it was great. We were all stay at home moms so we did playdates and many trips to the zoo together. Now though that this past fall I had my 2nd and another friend had her third I feel like the dynamic of the group has shifted. I have become closer with her because we have infants and toddlers whereas none of the girls do. However we have a group text where we share news. We also try to get together with and without the kids.

  2. THANK YOU for posting this. I appreciate the insight and honesty. I feel like I’m struggling with this since introducing baby #2 into our lives.

  3. I really appreciate this post. I am living it right now – trying to find a balance between home life and getting out for myself/with my friends. I have FOMO when I think about being away from my husband and 1.5 yr old son even though I know I need to get out for my own sanity (and have read a million articles on self care). Good to know that others feel the same way and that I don’t have to feel so guilty about it all the time!

  4. This is a great post that I really appreciate. I’m 30 and just married. I don’t plan to ever have kids but my friends are starting to have children. Some definitely want kids, others don’t. I kind of freaked out when the first pregnancy happened – of course I’m happy for them but what will happen to our friendships? What will our lives look like in 5 years if/when we’re the only ones childless? I travel a lot for work too so if I’m only home 2-3 days a week, I will not be wasting those precious few days home on “half-assed” friendships. Not to say that my time is OH SO important but since the work travel started, I made it a point to do whatever I commit to doing because I would expect someone to do the same for me when I’m home 48-72 hours a week.

  5. Definitely agreed! I went to an international school so most of my best friends have moved away. I have friends who live in NYC, London, Australia, Japan, Korea… you name it. I miss them a lot but one perk is that I have someone to stay with when I travel! 😉

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  6. Thanks for sharing. Really speaking to me and where I am in my life right now! Love your down to earth nature and your honesty. Thanks always for making great content!

    Nicole 🙂

  7. It is so hard! I think your second point has what I have lived: if i am the only one making an effort than I need to re-evaluate. Time for moms and well as others is important and I’m not going to continually put myself out there if someone isn’t going to meet me half way.

  8. I TOTALLY feel this right now. Me and my fiancé moved across the country and away from our closest friends. It’s been difficult to not feel left out when we see all of our friends hanging out together, or when they don’t reach out as much. Accepting this phase we are in has been challenging but having those tough conversations with my friends always reminds me they’re still there! Thanks for sharing!

  9. It’s all so true and so hard but reevaluating my friendships has given me confidence and strength. My children are 3 and 5 and I love my group of women so much. I feel sad sometimes that the friends I’ve known since I was 12 are no longer in my life but I’ve accepted that that season has changed and that we’re just not compatible enough at this stage in life to still be BFF’s

  10. My kids are older — high school & college — and that first baby rocks your world, so be gentle with yourself and your friendships. I think one of the surprising things I’ve experienced is that sometimes people drift out of your life for a while, but sometimes they drift back in later and that is wonderful.

  11. This is my exact life. It’s really comforting to read that this experience is just so common. Thank you!!

  12. I felt completely lost after having my baby a little over a year ago. It felt like I had baby blues forever and those first few months were just so rough. I was also the first of my friends to have a baby, so this just really hits home for me. On top of it all, I’m in the military and stationed in Hawaii, but all of my friends and family are in Virginia. It’s just been a very isolating experience, so I’m so glad to hear that it’s not just happening to me and that it’s okay to reevaluate things with friends (especially ones who don’t have kids)! I think I’ve been fighting it hard. Thanks Liz! You’re the best. <3

  13. Couldn’t agree more! It’s so hard because as a new mom you really really need a village of other moms who can understand, offer truly helpful advice, and sympathize. I found I became really close to new moms I met while on parental leave, nothing quite like starting a conversation with a new friend with “So i had a second degree tear” or “you should try my pelvic floor therapist”. Moms are just so honest and no bullsh*t and that type of friendship is what’s so helpful as a new mom. But there is still time and significant need for the other friends – the ones who knew prior versions of yourself. It helps to have someone reminisce and remind you of who you are in addition to being a mom. I found that it takes understanding on both sides – I NEED my friends to ask about my child because mothering is such a huge part of my life, but I also need to ask about what’s going on in my friends’ lives too. While my child is the biggest thing in my life, it is not the biggest thing in my friends’ lives and that, for me, has been a helpful way to walk through this chapter.

  14. Such an incredibly amazing post, Liz. I struggled so much and still do leaving my 2 kids, but I am getting better.

    Its I think the biggest life adjustment we take, becoming a mum but also the best one. I think after a lot of searching I’ve grown in so many area’s of my life, it’s slowly making me learn to be more relaxed too, what will happen will happen and all will still be ok!

    Thanks for this open and honest post.

  15. Ab So Lute Lee! facts. Im reevaluating also. The key thing you wrote about no Half–assing it. You just cant after 30. You either are my friend and truly care about me or you dont. Not when you are feeling yourself and feeling on top of the world. Yes we all get a time to be selfish, and as friends we should recognize when your girl is feeling blah. But a consistent blah towards the friendship is a no go for me. very painful but necessary.

  16. Thank you for this post. I think relationships, as you get older, need to be about quality over quantity. I’ve struggled with the evolution of my friendships especially when people got married and started families while I stayed childless and unmarried. But I’ve tried harder to maintain and cultivate relationships with the people I love most (even if it’s more me making an effort sometimes). One of my best friends has two kids under 2 and I do my best to support her even though I don’t hear from her often (because I get that she has a lot on her plate… ). Friendships require a give and take, and I’m trying being more of a giver and less judgmental overall if I’m not always receiving what I hope to be.

  17. Great post! I often tell people the loneliest I have been in my life was the 14 weeks I was off for maternity leave. I would walk to Starbucks each day, once cleared for exercise 🙂 and go up to random other moms to talk to someone, anyone. I found that stay at home mom’s didn’t want to invest in a relationship with me since I was going back to work – totally understandable. I live in a commuter city so my work friends are spread out all over and I am an older mom (first at 38) so most of my friends had children who were 5+ at the time. Like you mentioned I didn’t reach out either and that is on me. I remember sending a whatsapp to a friend who was working in another country at the time and she called me immediately to talk me down. That one friend opened the door and counseled me on what I needed to tell people or how to reach out. Now when I talk to soon to be mom’s at work or younger friends I explain my experience so they know it doesn’t have to be their experience because I wish someone would have done that for me. Like you said, we don’t know what we don’t know! 🙂

  18. This is something I struggled a lot with after undergrad. I think I’ve kept in touch with one college friend. The others (I’ve tried to make it work) were half-assed on not worth my time.

    BUT i think I found my people in grad school – we all went our separate ways, but after spending 24/7 for 2.5 years with a group of people there’s just a bond that is tough to break. Thankfully we all put in the work to stay in touch and make a point to see each other at least twice a year.

    Thanks for making a great post pretty much reassuring me – always wonderful content!

  19. Thanks for sharing! From the other perspective, I always feel like my friends who have kids are too busy or don’t want to be bothered with me because they’re on this amazing journey of parenthood. So it’s nice to hear that new parents actually want their childless friends to reach out!

  20. Love this post, Liz. I ‘ve struggled with guilt too over transitioning friendships since college. It’s hard to let yourself let relationships go and not feel bad about it. But it’s so true that we do change, life transitions, etc. Thank you for your honesty!

  21. LOVED this post! I am 28 and single, living it up in Dallas,TX with some of my best friends – and we all met post-grad! One of our best friends is the only one in our group that is married (a few are in relationships but the rest of us are as single as they come lol) and she told us at our Galentine’s party that she’s pregnant! She and her husband are still such genuine friends individually and as a couple to all of us so them being married has never really made a difference in our friendships. But we know that they’re going to have to slow down because their whole lives are about to change in September! Which is so exciting! But I know it’s scary for her to be the first in our group to not only be married which already separates her from the rest of us (not by much, but still) but now to be a new mom soon and not have anyone in her immediate circle to be able to relate to. If you have any suggestions on how she can get plugged in with some mommy friends or how we as her single girlfriends can best serve her and support her while we are still in our stage of life, I would so appreciate your thoughts!

    P.s. I absolutely love following along on your blog and insta! My sister-in-law, who is from Northbrook, first introduced me to your blog and I’m so glad she did! I love how relateable you and Dave are and your vulnerability with your family, let alone your style! I love how care-free and effortless you are, even if you don’t feel like it with 2 freaking cute kiddos! My niece is also a few weeks younger than Jack so it’s fun to see the milestones that he hits around the same time that she does or what we have to look forward to for her! AND I also went to Ohio State (originally from Columbus and was a Buckeye all my life!) so when I found out you went there I geeked out a little bit. Basically, I’m a big fan girl over here! Thanks for letting us all follow along and root for you!

    1. Oh my gosh thank you so much for this sweet sweet comment! I appreciate you so much!! My best advice would just to always be there for your friend and support her when she needs you. She will find her way!

  22. My time is valuable and between family life and work life, I don’t have a ton of time to dedicate to half-ass friendships (I’m just going to lay it all out there).

    THIS. IS. EVERYTHING. Thank you! I needed to hear this from someone.