“Friends. How many of us have them? Friends. Ones you can depend on. Friends.”
Friendship is instrumental to our lives. From wanting to play during childhood, to sharing your deepest secrets during adolescence, to needing a support system during trying times of adulthood, our friendships are foundational to who we are.
Yet somehow as we grow older, maintaining friendships during adulthood becomes much more complex. The focus we place on our friendships fades in lieu of other priorities – our partners, our children, our families. But why do we create this tradeoff? Why can’t our friendships be additive to our families and romantic relationships?
David Roberts (Vox) contributed an insightful piece on the topic. He offers that our living arrangements have a significant impact on our ability to make and maintain friendships.
Part of the problem, he argues, is that American cities, neighborhoods and communities are built to optimize for driving. In turn, this limits the contact we have with other people in our communities.
“But when we marry and start a family, we are pushed, by custom, policy, and expectation, to move into our own houses. And when we have kids, we find ourselves tied to those houses. Many if not most neighborhoods these days are not safe for unsupervised kid frolicking. In lower-income areas there are no sidewalks; in higher-income areas there are wide streets abutted by large garages. In both cases, the neighborhoods are made for cars, not kids. So kids stay inside playing Xbox, and families don’t leave except to drive somewhere.”
So, as we grow into adulthood, we begin to isolate ourselves and our families from a crucial element of forming and maintaining friendships: repeated spontaneous contact with other people.
Now it would be ridiculous to suggest we should always prioritize friends above our children, our partners, and our parents. But it also feels equally ridiculous to think that we abandon something so formative as other priorities creep into our lives.
Is there a way to have both? Whether it’s linking with your ladies to get your nails done, scheduling a workout with your homies, or taking an evening to go see Incredibles 2 (no, you’re never too old for this), we should stay vigilant and make sure we don’t lose sight of our friends.