Keeping Your Friends for the New Year

A friendship coach offers 5 tips on finding time to be with your best buddies this year.

Posted in , Dec 27, 2014

Michelle, center, with some of her writing friends.

Happy New Year!” you say, hugging your friend. “How are you? Wow, I can’t believe it’s been over a year since we’ve seen each other.”

“I know!” your friend responds. “We should really try to get together more. I miss you.”

Michelle and one of her many friends.“I miss you, too!” you share. “Let’s do lunch really soon.”                         

No sooner have the words escaped your mouth than you realize you’ve suggested a lunch date, and you usually work through lunch!

You were caught up in the moment. It was a holiday party. “Auld Lang Syne” was playing in the background. Why did you suggest such a thing?

Chances are, you really do miss your friend. After all, we need friends. They play important roles in our lives. In fact, friendship is a biblical concept.

Jesus is the Ultimate Friend. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus did that for us!

Proverbs 17:17 tells us that a friend loves at all times. Friendship is mentioned over and over again in God’s Word. Obviously, God knew we’d need friends.

But with a spouse, children, a full-time job, volunteer work and church commitments–keeping connected with friends can be challenging, right? Maybe you’ve let your friendships lapse over the last few years, and you’d like to reconnect.

If that’s one of your New Year’s resolutions, Dr. Jan Yager, author of Friendshifts: The Power of Friendship and How It Shapes Our Lives (Hannacroix Creek Books) can help. (It's also available as an ebook.)

Michelle and one of her many friends.“First off,” Dr. Yager says, “you have to be realistic about how much time you have available. Then, you need to commit to making time for your friends even if you’re super busy with family, work and even community obligations.”

Dr. Yager also advises not trying to invest time in absolutely every friend on your Christmas card list. If you do, you’ll start diffusing intimacy with the friends who are most important to you. So, be realistic and selective.

Once you’ve determined which friendships you wish to rejuvenate–go for it! Here are 5 tips from Dr. Yager, who is also a friendship coach, to put you on the path to successful reconnection:

1.  Call just to say hello.
Don’t wait for disasters or monumental moments to dial up your buddies. Find at least 20 minutes for a “just because” phone call every so often.

2.  Make birthdays a big deal.
Celebrate each other’s birthdays together, and that will guarantee at least two days each year for special friendship time. Celebrate with tickets to a Broadway show or packages at a nearby spa or tickets to see your favorite country singer.

And if you can’t get together in person, at least take the time to call each other, not just rely on an e-mail or a text message on such important days.

Michelle and one of her many friends.3.  Choose a neutral location for friendship get-togethers.
If you don’t meet in each other’s homes, there is no added pressure to get your places organized, decorated or spotlessly clean. It just makes it easier if you meet in a neutral location.

So, meet at a favorite restaurant and share a dessert, or maybe grab your tennis shoes and meet at a nearby hiking trail for a walk/talk time.

4.  Be flexible.
Understand that your friends have obligations and unexpected situations that may prevent them from keeping a date with you. Show your friends the same understanding that you’d expect.

Michelle and one of her many friends.5.  Return calls quickly.
When you receive a phone call from one of your friends, or an email, do your best to return that call, or send an email reply, within 24 hours. This communicates to your friend that she is important to you.

And if this is one of the few friends or family members that you text on a regular basis–as long as you’re not driving and in a safe situation to send and receive texts–be especially responsive about returning text messages since this is our most “instant” form of communication these days.

For more tips, read the chapter on “31 Suggestions for Finding Time to Call or Write Friends” featured in Dr. Yager’s Friendshifts book.

And, if you’d like to read more of Dr. Yager’s thoughts on friendship, I encourage you to check out her journal about friendship: 365 Daily Affirmations for FriendshipWhen Friendship Hurts: How to Deal With Friends Who Betray, Abandon, or Wound You; and Friendship Thoughts, Famous Quotes, and a Journal.

Pray this with me:

Father, I want to thank You for the special people You have placed in my life, and while I recognize that some people are only in our lives for certain seasons, I am asking that You help me reconnect with those friends that You’ve placed in my life for the long haul.

I pray that I have favor with those friends and that we’ll be able to find time to reconnect and spend time together in the coming year. Help me to be a better friend, Father, that I might be a blessing to the people in my life.

I love You, Lord. In the Mighty Name of Your Son, Jesus, Amen.

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