the secret to staying friends in your 30s

I’ve known it since that day in 8th grade when my BFF helped me craft my break-up note with my “boyfriend” of two weeks during 3rd period: there are few things as grand or important as a good girlfriend. Friendships are more than just a convenient date for every new romantic comedy that hits theaters — they’re a necessity of getting through the slew of speeding tickets, bad dates, job changes and moves that are collectively known as “life.” Did you know women’s brains are actually wired to flock to their female friends in times of stress? I’m not sure where I would be without my best girlfriends.

There is no doubt, however, that the role friends play in your life changes as you do. I lived with my best girlfriends for the better part of my 20s and loved every minute, texting them constantly and reveling in the revolving door of friends (and food delivery people) at our house. We attempted to figure out adulthood together and had a great time doing it. Now that I’ve entered into my 30s, I’m learning everyone’s schedules are insane – hello work, husbands, kiddos – so getting together is a logistical nightmare, but well worth it.

It’s true that the things you need in a friendship get some editing as you transition from your 20s to your 30s, because we really aren’t the same people. We grow and evolve and our friendships follow suit. They say these are the years when friendships start to disappear which royally freaks me out but also makes me think – what traits do I most value in my girlfriends now that I’m in my thirties, a point in my life when time itself is a luxury?

They keep in touch 

Texts, a phone call, witty email – it’s not hard to stay in touch in the digital age. A real friendship takes commitment and time and while it’s more challenging to do so when you’re being pulled in a million different directions it makes all the difference when you hear from your friend on the regular. At this stage of life sometimes it feels like you have to move heaven and earth to spare an hour for a coffee date but it’s so nice when you both make it happen.

They support and encourage

A dear friend is present because she wants to be, not because you asked her. Whether that means being your plus-one for emotional support to that wedding you’ve been dreading or volunteering to drive an hour to meet you for dinner just so you both can vent about how much your child isn’t sleeping. No matter what, you know you can turn to her with anything because she understands and respects who you are at your core. You may not agree on everything but mutual respect is always there and good counsel is always welcome. It’s such a comfort to have friends that love me without judgement or pretense; who support my passions and cheer me on. We women have to stick together, and a good friend is the best cheerleader.

They make plans – and keep them

We all know how empty the phrase “let’s get together soon” can be, so finding a girlfriend who makes and keeps plans is huge. You may be more likely to meet up for dinner after the baby is in bed rather than a music festival but the quality time together is what’s important, and face time is key to keeping the friendship thriving. Sure, you may not be able to get together as frequently as you did when you lived in the same house – or town or state – but that doesn’t mean the time spent together is any less rich or meaningful.

They remember the little things  

Birthdays, anniversaries, that movie I hated, the book I’ve been dying to read, the prayer request I shared weeks ago – it’s a friend remembering these little bits and checking in about them that make a girl feel loved and connected.

They forgive

No one is perfect and oh me, have I made my fair share of mistakes in my 31 years. I’ve learned the quickest way to poison a friendship is to stay hung up on the past, and forgiveness is a necessity. A true friend understands that you both have flaws and together you shapes to love each other despite.

They inspire you to be better 

Girlfriends should inspire and push you to be the best version of yourself. By being bold in their faith I feel more comfortable in being vocal about my own faith, my purpose and the grace that God shows me everyday. Seeing the goodness in my girlfriends inspires me to be a better friend and well, female.

Here’s to the amazing women in my life that embody all these traits and more – you are loved, valued and appreciated beyond words.

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