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.
“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?
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.” 
“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.  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.