Who would have thought friendship would be so difficult once you leave your cozy college campus when you can catch up with friends on the way to class or in the dining hall over a cup of Jo.
Now, like everything else in life, friendships require work and effort, sometimes even therapy (if you’re like me).
For a recent AP story, reporter Maggie Koerth-Baker (for the full story click here) interviewed Ray Pahl, a sociology professor at England’s University of Essex and co-author of “Rethinking Friendship.” He offers the following advice to young adults who are beginning to feel the strain between spouse and friend, or job and friend, or life and friend.
1. Quality is more important than quantity.
Dr. Pahl suggests you approach your list of friends as you might your food pantry (during spring cleaning). Because you only have so much energy to expend. It’s best to invest your time and energy into the relationships that you truly want to last and are most meaningful to you. “You owe it to the ones that really matter to give them your time,” he says.
2. You don’t have to like all your spouse’s friends.
Phew. According to Dr. Pahl, “this is one of the most serious ways in which people can lose friends.” It’s very logical. You and your friend enjoy a certain chemistry. You share many philosophies in common. Along comes Dumbo with his take on life and global warming and the obesity epidemic in the US, and ruins the conversation. That’s why Pahl says that Dumbo doesn’t have to tag along to the coffee shop if you want to catch up with your friend. In fact, he probably should stay home and read about global warming and obesity.
3. It’s up to you to make your single friends feel welcome.
Boy did I learn that one early on, since I was the first to get married among my friends. And I’d add this: those with children need be extra considerate and hospitable to those friends without babies. Because nothing is more annoying to a childless friend than “goo goo” talk in the living room or on the phone.
4. Couples need some time apart.
According to Dr. Pahl’s research, more and more folks are leaving behind their spouses to take vacations with same-sex friends and their marriages are stronger for it. For one, it’s a refresher, giving the partners something new to talk about. And it also means that the marriage is grounded in trust.