It’s no secret that friendships can be even more important than family, especially as an adult (and even more so if you’re a mom!). These bonds with people who share your ideals, sense of humor, and interests — and who just inherently get you — are super easy to maintain as a college student when you’re living on top of each other and have built-in plans 24/7. But once you graduate, land your first entry-level job, and snag your first adult apartment, those relationships begin to change. This transition can be confusing and emotional as you find your new friendship footing, but it doesn’t have to lead to growing apart from your bestie. Read on for seven simple ways to keep that post-collegiate connection stronger than ever.

Three women take a selfie at a party

IRL is best

You can’t rely on social media when it comes to keeping in touch. Sure, it’s sweet to be the first to like every Instagram post, but if you can’t always see your besties IRL, don’t slip into a social media rut. Those fleeting actions may feel like a genuine connection at the time, but we all know that quick hit of dopamine doesn’t stick. Instead, call your BFFs while you’re walking home from work or waiting in line at Trader Joe’s. Make (and keep!) weekly FaceTime dates and always have an in-person hangout on the books to seriously solidify those friendships.

Be honest with your feelings

Adult friendships are awesome and can be so personally fulfilling. But with that genuine connection comes occasional misunderstandings and hurt feelings — it’s an inevitable part of any friendship. To truly be a good friend, you have to learn to both speak up when you’re upset and apologize when you’re in the wrong. There’s just no room for any passive aggressiveness or silent treatment here! Trust us: You’ll both feel better and get closer in the process.

Be realistic

When you’re in school, you do everything with your crew. But once you’re outside of that college bubble, it’s just not realistic to expect to know your bestie’s lunchtime habits or bedtime routine. And while that can feel distancing at first, it’s important to set realistic expectations around your adult friendships. You’re both on the way to establishing your own independent lives (which is awesome!), so try to embrace and celebrate your friends’ new interests and experiences.

Get to know their new friends

Speaking of new interests, it’s inevitable that your old friends (and you!) will start widening your social circles to include coworkers, yoga buddies, volunteer friends, and new neighbors. It’s easy to feel that FOMO when you see your bestie posting new group selfies on the ‘gram, but instead of getting anxious about being replaced, why not organize a happy hour or game night so your new crews can hang? Not only will you see your girl more often, but we’re pretty sure you’ll make some new friends in the process (hey, she obviously has good taste!).

Make plans — but be spontaneous

We’ve already mentioned that making plans to see each other is important for any friendship, but don’t completely forgo the spontaneous hang! Whether you text her after dinner for a quick ice cream date or book a last-minute ticket for a weekend visit, these impromptu tokens go a long way in keeping the friendship spark alive.

Show up

If you’re lucky enough to live nearby your friends post-college, one of the easiest ways you can be a good friend is to simply show up. Whether you accompany her to a dreaded doc appointment on your lunch break, bring flowers to her first gallery opening, or meet up for a celebratory drink after a major presentation, you’ll be making new memories and solidifying old bonds with this ride-or-die support.

Share — big and small

Sharing — whether it’s a funny sign you saw on the street that reminds you of an inside joke or a major career move you’re contemplating — is the quickest way to connect. By getting vulnerable about the real stuff, you’re giving your bud permission to do the same. And creating that non-judgemental, open space is probably the best way to be a good friend.

What your go-to method for maintaining adult friendships? Tweet us @BritandCo and tell us how you do it!

(Photo via Getty)