Why Rituals May Be The Secret To Maintaining Friendships As You Grow Older

As a kid, it may have seemed easy to make and keep friends without really trying. Unfortunately, adult friendships often take more conscious effort to maintain. Between obligations at work and home, it can be tough to find the time and energy to keep up with friends. By the end of the day, you may feel so worn out that shooting a text to your bestie may not even occur to you. To make matters worse, adult friendships can also suffer if you're in different life stages, as different stressors, schedules, and priorities widen the gulf in your relationships.

So, what do you do? Keep scrambling to wedge in friend time whenever the stars align and you all have a free moment to catch up? Or let your busy life and conflicting schedules stretch the gap between messages until you inevitably find yourselves drifting apart? Let's be honest, neither of these are good options.

But all is not lost. If you're struggling to maintain friendships or give your BFFs the time they deserve in your life, it may be time to leverage the staying power of rituals. No, not witchcraft — though, feel free to explore whatever floats your boat. Rather, you can ritualize your relationships as a vital, nigh spiritual component of your regular routine. By turning your friendships into a habitual priority, you can breathe new life into your connections and ensure that your most important relationships persist for years to come. Intrigued? Here are two easy and impactful ways to bring ritual into your friendships.

Ritualize a recurring time to connect with your besties

Not all rituals require lit candles or a full moon. These days, you may hear a lot about rituals for self-care, from metaphysical practices like meditation to shower rituals for softer skin. The point here is mindfulness. And what's more deserving of your mindful energy and focus than keeping up the connections with your ride-or-dies?

Ritualizing a recurring time to check in with your friends helps cement their importance in your life. Better yet, ritualizing certain habits can help ingrain them in your mind, so you're less likely to let weeks or months pass between much-needed heart-to-hearts. Consider picking a time each week to commit to strengthening your social network. For instance, leave yourself an hour on Saturday mornings to send out texts or emails to friends you haven't seen recently. Share life updates, or just let them know you're missing them.

Schedules allowing, you can also ritualize your meet-ups. Spontaneity may have worked as a child, but don't underestimate the power of standing appointments as an adult. Happily, you determine how this best fits into your collective lifestyles. Reach out to your besties to set up some regular bonding time, whether as quick phone calls, group Zoom sessions, playdates with the kids, revolving potlucks, or brunch excursions. If weekly is too often, try reserving a certain day every month — say, the first Thursday, or the last Sunday.

Or, if your schedules tend to be very fluid, go for the bite-sized approach. Instead of setting aside hours at a time, make it a daily habit to chat for 10 minutes while you commute or do a face mask before bed. Folding your friends into your daily rituals makes preserving your relationships easy and instinctual.

Ritually schedule friends' milestones into your own calendar

It may sound strange to think of calendar management as a form of ritual. But, to reiterate, the foundation of modern-day ritual seems to revolve around mindfulness and intent. So setting aside time to plan future interactions with your friends can be as much of a ritual as you want to make it.

Just like you might ritualize a certain day or time to check on friends, you can give yourself the regular opportunity to mark down upcoming milestones. Make a note of a friend's birthday, the date of an upcoming job interview, or even an important event for their child. By writing this in your planner or scheduling it into your Google calendar, you're basically setting a reminder for yourself to send love and support when your bestie needs it most.

Spiritually and ritualistically speaking, you can also consider this as an opportunity to send your positive energy and best wishes out into the universe. After all, why are you noting down friends' life events, if not because you're hoping that some good will come of them? Even if you aren't intentionally meditating or praying on a friend's behalf, keeping them in your thoughts (and your calendar) comes from a place of love and fosters solidarity.

When the big day arrives, you can then take a cue from your calendar to touch base with your friend — whether that means texting them a good luck gif or calling them to hear how everything went. Though tracking their schedule in this way may seem a little type A, the end result is that you consciously become a more thoughtful and reliable friend. And, more importantly, you're keeping lines of communication open with the people you value the most.