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People Start To Leave My Life As I Grow Up, But True Friendships Always Stay

People Start To Leave My Life As I Grow Up, But True Friendships Always Stay

Throughout childhood, your friendships play a very important role in shaping who you become. As we approach young adulthood, most of us believe that our friends will be in our lives forever. We imagine having a dual wedding, raising our kids together, and buying houses across the street from each other. Unfortunately, the reality is that people start to leave our lives as we grow older. We grow distant and lose touch with people. Our friendships are reduced to once-a-year “Happy Birthday” messages on Facebook.

Maybe you’ve already started noticing this in your life. It may seem sad at first, but this is normal. Growing up means that new lifetime events and even romantic relationships become more important. But, don’t worry, true friendships will stand the test of time. True friendships will stay with you as your life changes.

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“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” – Attributed to William Shakespeare

When we are young, we spend a lot of time with our friends. But as we approach adulthood, we tend to place more priority on our family and romantic partners. In these types of relationships, we have set expectations. We see our partners every morning and every evening, maybe even text each other throughout the day. We make it a point to speak to our families often, visiting them on the weekends and for holidays. But, what about friendship?

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Well, friendships tend to be less structured than family and romantic relationships. We might go months on end without speaking to a friend, for example. This is particularly true as we grow older and our personal and professional lives become busier and more demanding. Most of us would never do this with our significant other nor with our family. We have stricter rules of engagement when it comes to these individuals. According to Ohio University Interpersonal Communication Professor William Rawlins, friendship gives us “Somebody to talk to, someone to depend on, and someone to enjoy. These expectations remain the same, but the circumstances under which they’re accomplished change.” [1]

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“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12.” – from the movie Stand by Me

We grow up, and childhood turns into adulthood. This is a fact of life. Some of us move away, go to university, get married, have kids, start a career, or all of the above. We don’t have the spare time to just show up at our friend’s house with a kickball and ask to play, like we once did. The demands of our personal lives become more pressing than the demands of friendship. When choosing between family dinner and drinks with a friend, most of us choose the dinner. Communication in our friendships becomes less frequent. Occasionally, we find ourselves trying to pencil in time to see our friends. “Are you available on the 20th for a quick cup of coffee?”

Interestingly, this all changes are we get older and move into our senior years. With retirement and an empty nest, the later years of adulthood give us more free time. We reconnect with old friends, looking to increase our happiness during our final years. [2] We want to spend as much time as possible with our loved ones while we’re still alive.

“A strong friendship doesn’t need daily conversation or being together. As long as the relationship lives in the heart, true friends never part.” – Anonymous

Despite the changing dynamics of our lives as we move through adulthood, some people do remain friends for life. Since the expectations we have concerning friendship are lower than the expectations we have of our other relationships, friendship becomes more flexible. Our friends are also going through changing demands in their lives. True friends recognize this and tend to be more forgiving about those long lapses in communication. True friends understand the obstacles that life puts in the way. Another secret to these lifelong friendships is to mutually invest effort and dedication to your friends over time. The key word here is: mutually. Nobody wants to maintain a friendship through adulthood that doesn’t reciprocate the effort.

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Reference

More by this author

Amber Pariona

EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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