How to turn your college friends into post-college besties

Friendship is tough at every stage of life, but it’s especially tough during the transitional stages. As a recent graduate, I am finding it harder to navigate and maintain my friendships from undergrad as an “adult.” Our lives have become different, our schedules less flexible, and there’s much more at stake in each decision we make.

I think it’s important to keep in mind that it is natural to lose a few friends at this juncture in your life; maybe it’s the distance, or maybe you just weren’t as close as you thought, but it’s OK to forfeit a few along the way. Where it once was easy and natural to stay close to people in college because you were on the same editorial board or played the same club sport, it now requires a concerted effort to stay in touch. For those you love and adore and want to keep around forever and ever, you’ve got to actively maintain those friendships.

Here are some tips that helped me transition my college friends to post-college BFFs.

Make them a priority in your schedule

Gone are the days when you ran into your friend out on the quad and made on-the-spot lunch plans with them. Now that you aren’t sharing the same space on campus, it’s important you call and text your friends and take time out of your schedule to see them (if you are still in the same area). You could even designate a night each week—as a movie night or dinner night—to make sure you see each other on a regular basis. It seems simple but it might be a change. Leaving a college campus will show you how much you relied on casual run-ins to make plans.

Try being workout buddies

If you’re lucky, you and your friend stayed in the same city—which makes staying in touch both convenient and a priority you can stick to. But still, post-college life is really busy. Finding the time to hang and keep up with your regular schedule isn’t always easy. One way to deal with that is to incorporate your friends into things you’re both doing anyway, like exercising. Start doing yoga or Pilates together, or purchase a gym membership at the same facility. Now you can dedicate your Tuesday nights to staying healthy in body and mind, plus you can hit up a happy hour after.

Invest in something small together

Maybe workouts aren’t your thing. Instead, you could go in on some season football tickets or register for wine and painting classes so that you are financially invested in seeing each other and in having a good time on a regular basis. Another, cheaper way to keep in touch with a larger group of friends is to start a book club. Weekly wine and reading nights are kick-ass workouts for both your brain and heart.

Just hang out—virtually

Unfortunately, you may not have stayed in the same city as your closest friends. In this case, it’s essential that you use your resources to stay in touch and share a piece of your everyday life with your besties. Sharing articles, simultaneously binge-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix with your faves, and making plans to have a Skype dinner are all ways to help friends feel like active participants in your life. And that’s the important part of all of this: it’s not the social media, it’s the effort that you must make to include your friends and help them feel relevant to your ever-changing agenda.

Get your travel on

Once you make it big (aka get a job) and get that steady cash flow every month, a fun part of having friends all over the place is TRAVELING. Now you have a perfect excuse to hop on a plane or train and explore a new place for the weekend. If you want to stay close, you sometimes might have to go the extra mile (literally) and crash at your BFF’s new pad. See, there’s a bright side to this whole being a grown up thing, and taking the time to visit a friend will make them feel important — and I am sure any friend will be thrilled to show you their new digs.

Wait out the weirdness

Adult life is different from college life, and every weekend is not the same party it may (or may not) have been during school. Take a few deep breaths and realize that just because your friends are not with you every day or even every weekend, they still care about you. Some of the best friendships I’ve had are the ones where we may not see each other for months, but when we get together it’s as if nothing has changed. Reminiscing about your dorm life or sharing in each other’s work life and graduate school accomplishments is so satisfying, especially now that the burden of those theses and capstones are off your shoulders. Bonding over bill-paying stress and other grownup complaints is a surprisingly therapeutic activity.

As you transition into work life and bring your old friendships with you, it’s key to keep them in the loop. Don’t bypass them. Continue to confide in them and share with them. You want to grow together and the best way to do that is to support each other in every phase. Remember that it might take time to determine how to integrate your old friends into your new lifestyle and into your new circles of friends, this is all OK. As with any new situation, it’s an adjustment. But ultimately, it’s all worth it if you come away with friends for life.

Elaina Hundley is a post grad, wannabe adult reading her way to the top of every game. An avid bibliophile, she OBVIOUSLY studied literature in college, writes blog posts to stay hip, and writes poetry (she might share with you if you’re nice, maybe. . .). When she isn’t buried in a book, or digging up the latest film and literary news, she can be found cuddling with her Maltese, taking a jog, or searching through thrift stores for the best finds. At the moment she is looking frazzled while measuring her life in coffee spoons. You can check out more of her writing at her personal blog.

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