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Graphic by: Maya Palavali

Imagine this: You finally settle at your desk, thinking of the fifty things your professors assigned within the past week. You mentally prepare yourself for those while wondering when to finish that one assignment from three weeks ago. Right before you start, you receive a text from your friend and a pang of guilt hits.

“Are you free to meet this week? I haven’t seen you in ages. Every time I ask to meet up, you have something going on.”

Sounds familiar? You’re not alone.

Many college students, if not all, suffer from maintaining platonic friendships. There’s a lot packed into our schedules with class work, extracurricular activities, jobs and home life. Friends, no matter how dear to us, tend to be left at the bottom of the priority list. It’s already a challenge to start friendships. Maintaining them? That’s another hurdle on the field.

Fear not — here are some tips to help you not only keep up with your friends but to ensure those platonic relationships are long-lasting.

Time Management

First and foremost, everyone needs a priority list and a timetable. Managing one’s time is an underrated essential skill. We need to divide our time in a way that allows us to take breaks so we’re not burnt out.

Divide your load by subject. Every person is unique in what works for them. Once we manage the big things, we make time for the other important parts of our lives. If this means scheduling a time slot to meet your friends, so be it.

Something to keep in mind when making plans with friends is they don’t need to be big. Oftentimes we’re paralyzed with the thought of using too much social energy or spending time aligning schedules that we forget the small opportunities add up.

You can have a quick coffee run with a friend during study breaks. Body doubling works wonders as well as it helps keep yourself accountable. Sometimes running an errand with someone is just as substantial as going to the movies. My friends and I go on the occasional 20-minute errand together. when I’m heading to HEB, I ask my friend if she’d like to tag along. Despite being a mundane location, there’s something about being domestic with your friends that creates silly little memories to look back on.

Catering To Your Friends

Different types of platonic connections require different activities. With friend groups and high-energy friends, think of something fun and interactive: the game room at Student Center South, the Rec or even sports games would be perfect to spend time with them. These also work with people you’re not too close to: if you find it awkward spending time with them because you don’t know what to talk about, these can keep both of you busy and help you bond more!

With friends you’re more chill with, lower-energy activities work perfectly, especially if you want to chat. Food places on campus are a must: Student Center South, The Den, Cougar Grounds and even the new food hall opening in Spring works best!

If you both need to get work done (let’s face it: you’re going to talk the entire time), studying together can work perfectly. M.D. Anderson Library, Cougar Grounds and the Architecture Library are some of the most popular study spots. Campus is the best place to make a quick plan with someone if you don’t want to go too far.

Love Languages

Figure out your friend’s love language, even in a platonic way.

Words of affirmation are self-explanatory: expressing your affection verbally goes a long way. Complimenting your friend, communicating your thoughts and feelings with them and expressing your gratitude are a few examples.

Quality time is one of the most obvious love languages. Giving them your undivided attention and providing quality company over quantity embodies this. 

Physical touch is another: hugging, physical closeness to one another or punching your friend’s shoulder. It’s the subtle things that make all the difference. 

Acts of service include helping your friend with their homework, and cleaning their desk when they’re feeling unproductive and stuck.

Receiving gifts is the most misunderstood. It doesn’t mean expensive gifts; rather, it’s the fact you thought of them and took time out of your day for them. It’s getting the occasional snack for a friend or bringing back a gift from your vacation.

Everyone values all love languages to some extent, but one always overpowers the rest. Providing these for your friends makes them appreciate you and shows you understand them more than you let on.

Don’t Neglect Friendships

One thing many make the mistake of doing is neglecting friends while in a relationship. Being the spare tire in someone’s life feels awful, and if you’ve ever third wheeled you know how bad it can get.

Take a look at your own relationship: are you spending all your time with your significant other? When was the last time you had a heart-to-heart with your friends? Balancing different relationships, or even different friend groups, is hard. Don’t feel the need to spread yourself thin, but make sure you don’t blindspot others.

It’s important to realize your friends are just as human as you are. Expecting everyone to be the perfect person is a sham; you’re certainly not perfect yourself. If your friends are in the position of being endlessly busy, see things from their perspective. Recommend this article to them if they tick any of these boxes!

At the end of the day, the most essential things are to keep open communication and prioritize your own well-being. Life can get the best of us and it’s cruel to ourselves if we feel guilty about it.

With society demanding too much of us, we tend to spread ourselves too thin and forget to live with those who are always by our side. Make sure your platonic relationships are aware of your situation and please ask for help when needed. They’re your friends; they’ll understand.

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