Friday, February 10, 2012

{Friendship Friday} How do you make time for friends?

Edited to add a very crucial bit in RED below!

First off, thanks so much to all of you for sharing so honestly on the friendship posts - I truly do love reading your comments.

I'm going to be posting on friendship every Friday til I run out of ideas (comment and tell me what you want to discuss!).

I love this pic of D & C, two old friends
Tower Bridge


The time thing has come up again and again so I thought it might be a good time (haha) to talk about it.

The fact that there isn't enough time to nurture existing friendships, let alone create new ones.

I get it.

I really do.

After all, I coach time management so I've honestly heard all the time challenges under the sun.

And so I thought I'd share my thoughts on the subject and all of you can chime in too.

I say this often and if I do sound like a broken record, that's okay - it's that important.

You make time for the things that are important to you.

There are things I do (like blog every day) that take tons of time.

It's important to me so I make the time.

There are also other things that I'd like to do (like watch TV) that are not as important to me so I don't make the time.

In fact, that's probably how I have the time to blog.

So, onto friendship.

I wasn't always like this (so I totally get it if you don't feel the same) but I do value my friendships and because of that, I try to set aside some dedicated time to connect with them.

Like 1 - 3 lunch-time dates and about 2 socials at night or on weekends.

Aside from emailing and so on.

I also have a friend spreadsheet which is very nerdy but helps me to see who I haven't spent any time with recently and be intentional about getting together.

As an aside, I saw on my spreadsheet that I see some friends who live in LONDON (as in the UK!) more often than some that are right here in Jhb.


So what's that about?

I think it's because our friendship is important to both of us so we prioritise spending time together. They let us know when they're coming and we immediately set up a time and block it out.

It also helps that we both never flake!

Except I will admit... we were due to see them one day when K was in hospital so we moved it out and that was fine. My rule is to do all things possible if out-of-town people are in town so I was prepared to have them come visit in the hospital coffee shop if the time didn't work out.

I think what I'm trying to say in a very roundabout way is that if your friendships are important, you'll set aside some time to see those friends.

I do think if the friendships are very superficial and you never really connect deeply then it's difficult to sacrifice the time, especially if you're time-starved.

Do you agree or disagree?

I'm not saying that my way is the way to do it. I am saying that if you have other priorities, then own it. (psychospeak :))

Admit to yourself that you only have X amount of time per week/ month/ quarter to "spend" on friends and that you're okay with that.

I do feel that there's a disconnect because we don't admit (out loud) to ourselves that these are our current realities and then we feel torn, guilty or disconnected.

How does this play out for me?

I've admitted to myself that I really don't like to meet friends on weekends if my husband and kids are not invited. In fact, just this week I told a potential friend date this very thing :)

So either we all go or I meet those people at other times.

But the result is I feel freer (sp?) within my self-imposed boundaries.

Does this make sense?

What are your thoughts on making time for friends?

And what if only one party has to keep prioritising the friendship and the other doesn't hold it in as high esteem?

Next time I want to talk about taking a friendship from superficial to deeper :)


  1. I think it’s all good and well to say that you make time for things that are important to you. For the most part this is true. On the other hand I do feel that it may be a bit unfair to assume that if you are struggling to make the time for it that it's not important to you because ultimately one never knows what really happens behind closed doors. Maybe there is a jealous husband who doesn't like your friend.Or maybe there are no babysitters. Maybe it’s a money issue. Maybe the person is depressed and can’t cope with seeing people etc etc.

    I find that the spreadsheet works really well for me. People still can’t cope with it when I tell them about it. They think that I'm a nutter so I keep that to myself now.

    To combat the time issue, I try to multitask. For example, going for a walk with a friend means I’m exercising AND connecting. Meeting for a coffee straight after Church means that I’m nurturing my spiritual relationship AND connecting. I have a friend who comes over every 2nd weekend to blow dry and flat iron my hair. She usually brings cake or a sweet pastry. I have tea. And it takes approximately 3 hours for my hair to get done because we take regular tea breaks in between. In this case, I’m taking care of myself AND connecting.

    The 2nd part of your question is a tricky one. Lance always used to say that every friendship circle has what is called a “lighthouse keeper”. The one who is the centre and the “mommy” figure, the one who keeps things going. I saw that Rachel blogged about it this week as well. I think it’s a fine line actually. I used to be the lighthouse keeper in my group of friends. I started to get frustrated and become resentful and stopped. The friendships kind of died along with my attitude. I never want to be in that situation again. That’s why I’m expanding my friendship circle so that it doesn’t feel like I’m the only one keeping things going.
    I have also learned that friendship is largely a values thing so someone else may not value connection the way I do. It's not wrong. Just different. Also, it could be a love language thing. Some people simply don't do quality time. That's ok too. If I really want the person in my life then I try to work around that. Also, as soon as I feel that the friendship is too one-sided then I take a step back. It takes a while for me to get to this point though.
    Gosh, I'm thinking now I should have written a post or something. Sorry for this essay.

  2. I completely agree that you have to prioritize what it important to you. As you said on your organizing blog, everything is a choice.

    I most often see friends after the girls are in bed. Sometimes all I want to do in the evenings is go to bed myself, but it's usually so worth it to make myself get up and out...good for the soul, for sure.

    It is really hard when one person makes the friendship a bigger priority than the other. I laugh with my one friend, K, as she is the perfect example of someone who MAKES TIME for her friends (at least for me!), no matter what. In a crazy way, it makes me more resentful of other friends, like S, who seem to never have time. :/

  3. having just moved three months ago, i'm feeling the loss of my friendships deeply :(

  4. I love how passionate you are about this! While I enjoy good conversation and adult interaction, I don't really need friends. I don't feel it's necessary to carve out an hour of my day to spend time doing nothing productive regularly. That's not to say I don't enjoy just going out occasionally with people but it's not something I make a habit of. My friends are definitely a priority and when they need me to talk/vent/confide in I will most definitely be there. I however, don't seek them out in the same fashion.

    I guess that makes me self reliant? My family and my house are my main priorities. Just tonight I turned down a party my best friend was hosting, I even made the invites for her, but it just wasn't my thing and I opted to give the girls their first hair cut instead. Everyone is there, but I'm happy to be sitting next to the hubs with a hot plate of cookies! This is what is important to me!

  5. i totally agree that you have to be intentional with prioritization and energy spent on friendships. knowing what you consider most important is very helpful. the dilemma comes, however, when you are putting so much effort into a friendship that just seems so superficial. it's a fine line, right? with the right energy and nurturing could it be a GREAT friendship? or are you wasting your time and effort on this when you could be productive in other areas (or with other friends).

    i choose to make time to work out every day. but i wish i had a gym friend :)

  6. Life is about relationships....if you believe that then everything else falls into place.

    There are always extenuating circumstances but I do feel that without nuturing old and new relatoinships that my life is rather tepid and meaningless.

  7. Sadia4:21 pm

    Oh my, that is so true, about the prioritization. It was rather a shock to realize that I was prioritizing the girls' friendships above mine - sacrificing my time with MY friends to allow them time with theirs. But that's my priority right now, and the friends who've known me for years and years honour and respect that until the kids grow up, nurturing them will come first.

  8. I've been pondering Julia's comment while I make breakfast. I think you've got an unspoken priority there. If a jealous husband would prevent you from seeing friends, then clearly the relationship with your husband is the end alland be all priority. While that is probably the popular ideal, it's not true of every family.

    My husbandis a soldier, so work comes before family for him, until he retires. If it's the kids' birthday, and he has a suicidal soldier, he won't be at home. Therefore, I need to find my support in friends. If he's in Afghanistan, and I need to get to the hospital, it's my friends who get me there. Friendships in the military are made quickly and strong, because we move around so much there's no time for tentative, time-intensive relationship building. If my husband doesn't like a friend, I may correspond with them more by email, etc., but we both understand the need for us each to have support outside the marriage, since we only get to live together every other year, since the US is at war.

  9. Interesting one! I'm like you with my weekends - I don't get to see nearly enough of my husband, so I feel weird doing things that mean I won't get to see him. The exception is my single friends - I am happy to see them without J because honestly, is there anythign more boring to a single woman than having to spend time with someone else's husband? I hated it when I was single, so I don't want to do it to them.

    My ideal, like you, is seeing people in the evening. However - J's job means that he rarely gets home before 8 (and the days that I work, we have other commitments which is why I chose those days to work... so we could actually get to those commitments....) so if I organise something I run the risk of having to flake if he's not home in time for me to leave. And I HATE FLAKING. So usually I just don't organise anything - and I really miss the time to just chill with friends. Miss that! Hopefully going out with a friend this tuesday though because we've swapped work days - YEAH!

  10. Being intentional about spending time with friends is tough sometimes! I'm like Mandy. I often get together with friends after the girls are in bed (that's also the only way hubby and I ever go out on dates).

    Since becoming a parents, I've watched my friendships change. I think sometimes people come into our lives for a season, and it's okay to let those go a bit--exchange Christmas cards/keep up on facebook, etc. Other friends enter and stay forever

  11. Making friends can be very difficult. I don't mind meeting up with a potential friend if her whole family is coming along over a weekend, for example. I too have kids and they love to meet new playmates as well. So that does not bother me. Weekends work better for me (regarding making new friends and keeping up with existing ones) as I have a son which is in Primary school and week nights are allocated for school things.
    I understand what you're trying to say in this post :)

  12. This post really hit a nerve with me. I totally get what you are saying about priorities and owning it/admiting it. But unfortunately I have learnt that sometimes life is waaaay more difficult than that. Finding ouselves parenting a child with 5 significant special needs including Autism, travelling reasonably long distances to make appointments with specialists several times a week, not finding a pre-school or school willing to take him, not finding a respite carer to use the respite hours we have to use, and having a baby born premature with additional allergies and medical conditions requiring many hospital visits and a very busy time at home- we honestly have not been able to make the time to make a phone call to a friend, let alone meet up. We haven't found anyone who wants to babysit our son. Our famliy are a 9 hr drive away. He takes his nappy off at night and wees/poos the bed about 4 times during the night. There is a huge amount of washing to do the next day. I can't leave the 2 kids in the same room as the baby will get hurt. I can't put our son in another room by himself or he can get so upset and bang his head on the door so hard he has put his head through it. Friends see how our son behaves and disappear into the woodwork for months at a time. We hear a lot 'We coouldn't handle H, I don't know how you do it' but no one ever asks how they can help us as it is too hard. There are no date nights as this is the time we each have work and housework to do as it can't get done during the day. We can't take our son to the shops or supermarket.
    The thing I own and I'll admit to is that if I manage to contact someone once every few months that is huge for me. If thst amount of contact is not sufficient enough for someone else to consider me a friend, then maybe I need better friends.

    Finding the time to comment on this post has taken several days.

    I guess writing this is probably a waste of time as no one will get it anyway. There is sooo much more I would love to say about people's expectations of others etc. I haven't the time right now.

  13. Kind of loving the spreadsheet idea, but have no idea how to use them...yes, I suck.

    I'd rather made a spreadsheet about what their favorite gifts are so I actually remember!


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