Maybe your closest friends are getting married and having kids, and you’re more focused on your career. Or maybe you’re the first among your besties to get pregnant, and you’re having a tough time navigating parenthood without other mom friends. Either way, facing the very real challenges that come with friendship in adulthood can be frustrating and stressful. It’s easy to feel left out (or even left behind) when you’re in a completely different phase of life from the people you care about the most. Thankfully, just because your lives look different logistically doesn’t mean the quality of your relationship has to take a huge hit. If you’re feeling the weight of changing friendship, here are a few ideas for maintaining — and even continuing to build — connection.

A group of friends laugh together on a park bench

1. Remind yourself what connected you in the first place. On a surface level, you probably met your best friends because you were in similar phases of life — perhaps you were all in the same high school class or in the same dorm in college. But chances are you were drawn to your friends because of something deeper, like their personalities or passions. When it seems like there’s not much overlap anymore in how your everyday lives are structured, try to take stock of what attracted you and connected you to your friend, then tap into that. Maybe the two of you connected because you both love the outdoors, or because you both have a great sense of humor — so go on a hike or see a comedy! Even as seasons of life shift, our cores still remain the same, and that can be a huge comfort.

2. Try not to take things personally. When you and a close friend used to do everything together, changes in that routine can sting. But just because you and your bestie have different priorities and different schedules (for now!) doesn’t mean you love each other any less. In fact, they’re probably just as distraught about the changes in your friendship as you are, even if they haven’t communicated it. Instead of seeing these differences as a personal blow or reading into a text message that never gets a response, remember that with new phases of life come new stresses, and it can require a lot of mental energy to settle in.

3. Be open to expanding your crew. Though friendship can still thrive as differences unfold, it’s still important (and fun!) to have friends you can relate to on a practical level — even if that means you just add a few people to your life who have a similar schedule and routine. If you’re in a season where your job is most important, make an effort to get to know a colleague over happy hour or coffee. Or if you’re a new parent and none of your friends have babies, sign up for a Mommy & Me class or chat with some other parents at the playground. You might be surprised how refreshing it feels to find even a couple new friends whose lives overlap with yours.

4. Don’t forget your history never changes. Facing the changes that come with adult friendship can feel a little bit like grieving, and you’re probably facing that full spectrum of emotions. The beautiful thing is, though, that no matter where you are now, you and your friend will always have the foundation you created together, whether you’ve known each other for a year or since kindergarten. A pause in the growth of your friendship doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship is doomed or that there’s no opportunity to grow in the future. Take the opportunity presented by this unique stage in your relationship to creatively invest in your friend and cheer them on — a friend worth keeping will do the same for you!

How do you deal with changes in friendship? Tell us @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)