When I ask women what one thing they wish they could change about their friendships-- the number one answer is along the lines of wishing their friends made more time for them. We're weary by how we have to schedule each other 3-weeks out, initiate a dozen emails back-and-forth, and wonder if we're a priority to the other person.
We live in a time-crunched culture where everyone believes that time is scarce and many a friendship is falling victim to a lack of time together. We aren't just sitting on front porches, sipping iced tea late into the evening, talking about life, and watching our kids play in the quiet tree-lined streets together.
So in a world where many women are putting relationships on the back-burner, I want to hold up three of my friends who are making amazing decisions to structure their lives around their friends. May they inspire all of us to not just do what is easy, but to do what is important to us.
Willing to Schedule Time FOR Friendship
My girlfriend, Sherilyn, and I try to talk on the phone at least once a week, often for up to an hour at a time. That is impressive considering I do it in the middle of my work day, between writing, giving interviews, and running my company; and that she's doing it with
three kids running around and begging for attention. But we set aside the time, knowing that if we want to feel close to each other and really know what's going on in each others hearts that it's easier to do that on a regular basis than an irregular basis.
But last week she upped the ante and impressed me even more in proving just how important friendships are to her.
She's been gone this summer a bit more than normal, including at least two trips to spend time with friends, so when the husband of one of her close friends called to see if she could fly out for his wife's birthday over Labor Day weekend, she was tempted to say no. And none of us would have faulted her: her husband has gone above and beyond this summer watching the kids so she could take off at various times, her kids start school the day after she would get back so she'll miss much of the school prep, and her schedule is nuts between now and then. Had she said no, we would have supported her for not over-extending herself.
But she and her husband have a habit of separately thinking and praying about something for a period of time before making a big decision so they decided to convene in 24 hours to decide. Both of them showed up in that conversation on the same page, with her husband articulating, "Life is about relationships... if there is anything we should be structuring our life around it is for this. Go be with your friends."
Wow. So he's watching the kids one more weekend, and she's practicing not feeling guilty, trusting that she's making time for what they feel matters the most in life. Most of us would have simply said no because we're busy and tired without even stopping to think about whether it supports our values or not.
Willing to Commit Finances FOR Friendship
Another one of my friends, Ayesha, announced two years ago to a monthly group of us that gets together to support each other, that her husband was taking a job in New York City. But because her friendship meant so much to us she said she was going to keep flying out once a month to spend that evening with us.
Buying a place in New York City isn't cheap and as they've been trying to get more established in their new city it would have made sense to say "this monthly expense of flying back-and-forth is too costly." Indeed it has a pretty expensive price tag on it.
But she knows that if these are friendships that are important to her to maintain face-to-face then she will have to invest in them.
We can't all afford to do that, but what she's showcasing is amazing. What she invites us to look at in our own budgets is how sometimes it costs us something to maintain the friendship; and that a price tag isn't bad if you're getting meaningful connection on the other side of it.
Willing to Move FOR Friendship
When one of my best friends, Daneen, texted me in June to let me know that she and her husband were thinking about moving away from San Francisco, my heart just fell. We all know how hard it can feel to finally develop meaningful friendships so the idea of losing a little bit of that time together was tough to swallow.
And yet... I was so immensely proud of her because her reason for moving was to go back to a community where she feels like she belongs. She and her husband met in college in this community, where his family lives and where they still have many friends.
Since having a child, San Francisco has felt like a hard place to have community that both includes children and spirituality. (Her story in her words.) While there is much they love here, they are moving away to a place where they hope to have more families over for dinner and more engagement in a church community. It's a small community so they're likely to run into people they know at the grocery store and can walk down the street to connect with neighbors.
In a world where people move frequently for jobs, more money, or for love--leaving friendships to chance; (Here's an article I wrote for Huffington Post called 5 Things to Consider Before Moving Away From Friends) I find it amazingly inspiring to move for friendships, and trusting that they can find the other pieces. All too often we leave a place, walking away from friendships, forgetting that it will take years before we can build those up again. And while she's moving away from me and a few others; she's leaning into a place where her life will be far more established around the community she craves. She is willing to plant herself where she believes her opportunities for meaningful friendship will increase.
What Am I Willing to Invest?
I hesitate to tell the stories because I don't want anyone feeling any guilt, whatsoever; but I choose to tell them because I think there's an inspirational element to them, also.
We are so often modeled by others that friendships come-and-go, that they are the first thing to let go of when life gets busy, or that they are only important when it's convenient. So I think it's important for us to hear stories of what other women are doing, what they're willing to invest, what they're willing to do to maintain their friendships. It's important for us to know that it's not crazy to make choices in favor of friendship. It invites us to ponder, "Maybe I do have one evening a week to go out with friends" or "Maybe I could commit to one hour a week to talk to one of my best friends."
Time isn't necessarily scarce; we just have to prioritize what we believe is worth structuring our lives around during the time that we do have.
Starting in 3 weeks! "The Friendships You've Always Wanted! Learning a Better Way to Meet-Up, Build-Up, and Break-Up with Your Friends!"*
I really hope you'll consider joining us for this 21-day class filled with up to 13 expert interviews where we will all make a commitment for one month to focus on increasing the frientimacy (friendship intimacy with other women) in our lives!
With our workbook and lots of inspiring interviews-- we will find ways to 1) make more female friends and 2) do so in such a way that we are structuring our lives around them in a way that feels good to us! :)
* Sign up early and we'll send you a free copy of my book "Friendships Don't Just Happen!"