Being Too Busy for Friends

Making Time for a Friend

Being too busy for a friend is one reason friends drift apart. A jam-packed schedule really is the enemy for our social time. And what's worse, we pride ourselves on how busy we are. We love to tell people that we can't get together because we are swamped. It makes us feel important. 

The reality of life today is that we are a busy society. We cram our schedules with activities, work long hours, and then try and have a life somewhere in between! It can take a toll, especially when it comes to friendships. Being too busy for friends can mean you aren't getting the benefits and support that come with close relationships. It can also mean you may end up losing a few friends.

Being Too Busy Can Create a One Sided Friendship

An angry email never helps a friendship.
An angry email never helps a friendship. Credit: Zero Creatives/Getty Images

Has your friendship become a bit one-sided? Your friendship may start out with one friend in a really busy place in life. Maybe they have a stressful job where they work long hours, they have kids, take care of their parents, and more. Maybe, for a while, they seem to have less time than you do. This happens in a friendship, but shouldn't be a permanent situation.

The Word "Busy" Is Subjective, and Often an Excuse

Ideas for when you're hanging out with friends on Valentine's Day.
Ideas for when you're hanging out with friends on Valentine's Day. JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

I once heard someone say that when a person tells you they are too busy to spend time with you, what they are really saying is that their priority isn't on you right now.

Sound harsh? You don't have to take that personally. After all, there are times when other things in your life are going to be more important than a friend. That's when friends need to adjust and either take a back seat for awhile or step up and be more proactive.

However, be careful not to fall into an "I'm too busy" attitude all the time, where you believe your friends are required to cater to your schedule. Life is about balance, and if you consistently tell friends you're too busy, they will eventually walk away. 

Getting Used to Being Too Busy

Stress can make you pull away from friendship.
Stress can make you pull away from friendship. Jamie Grill/The Image Bank/Getty Images

The busyness excuse can work for a while when it's genuine. Suddenly you have kids or a new job, and you need to adjust to your new life requirements and schedule. Eventually, though, you'll figure out ways that you and a friend can see each other.

Perhaps your friend can come to your house during a family dinner, maybe you can run errands together, or talk on the phone late at night when you have twenty minutes before bed.

You'll eventually make adjustments in your schedule, but if you still think your friend should always be the one to come to you or make time for you, your friendship will eventually hit a rough patch. Never get assumptive with a friend to the point where you believe your time is more important. Your schedule might be different, but their time is just as important as yours.

Have Your Replaced This Friendship With Something or Someone Else?

Your friend will appreciate an offer to babysit.
Your friend will appreciate an offer to babysit. SW Productions / Photodisc / Getty Images

Your friend was probably patient for a while, but eventually you'll need to decide if your commitments or new friends have begun to take precedence over your old friendship.

It's not unusual, for example, when someone has children to begin to form friendships with other parents. If you're spending time with them and not nurturing your old friendship, your friend may just move on to a friend who can devote time to them.

However, old friendships don't need to end just because your life changes. Keep communicating properly (talking and listening) with your friend to make sure your relationship stays as strong as it can be right now. Friends will understand when your life changes. What they shouldn't have to understand is why they need to keep a friendship going when you appear to lose interest.

Is Your Busyness Temporary?

If you are swamped right now because of a temporary situation (you're going to school, have a new job, just had a baby), your friends will understand and support you. Being busy becomes an issue when a temporary situation becomes permanent, or when it gets immediately replaced with another issue. If you are someone that "thrives" on chaos, your friendships may eventually end up taking a back seat.

Taking Care of Yourself and Your Health

Image Source/Getty Images

Making time for friends isn't just about being social but about taking care of yourself. Having friends in your life has health benefits akin to exercise and stress management. In other words, you'll be a healthier, more balanced person if you make the time for your friends.

Finding Balance

Friendships, like any relationship worth having, take effort. To find balance between your friends and everything else going on in your life, take a mental step back and view your life as if you were a stranger. If there is one area that stands out from the rest as being "too full," you may need to adjust some of your attention.

Try to estimate the time you spend on various areas of your life (work, family, and friends). Write down how much of each day is typically spent on each. You don't need to be exact! This exercise is to help you visually see where your priorities have been. For example, you may discover that you just need to say no to work a bit more, or that you need a night out away from your family every once in a while.

Examine What Kind of Friend You Are

Pray for friends.
Think about and pray for your friends. Astronaut Images/Getty Images

Self-awareness can help you identify times when you've acted selfishly with a friend. Have you asked them to come to your house for a party, for example, when you haven't made time for them? Or have you been upset that they weren't available to talk, when in fact you haven't picked up the phone in a long time yourself?

Take a look at how you behaved. It isn't just being busy or having a full life, it's how you are coming across to your friend. Your friend wants to stay in your life, and that's a blessing. Don't push someone away because you feel more important than they are. Everyone is equal when it comes to friendship.

Are You Too Busy?

When you're constantly running at a frenzied pace, you may get used to having a jam-packed schedule. Ask yourself:

  • Have my friends complained about unreturned emails or phone calls?
  • Do I dread having lunch or dinner with pals because it cuts into my productivity or family time?
  • Does it seem like I'm the last person to know what's going on with my friends?
  • Do I keep cancelling on my friends?
  • Have my friends pulled away from me without explanation?

If you answered yes to some of these questions, you may have been neglecting your friendships in favor of work or even family life. It doesn't mean that your other obligations aren't important, but it does mean you're going to have to do a better job nurturing your friendships if you want to keep them.