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Keeping Old Friends in College

5 Ways to Stay Friends When Life Divides

Last night on Gossip Girl, best frenemies Blair and Serena face yet another challenge when they start college (for real this year). Blair, for once, is the popular one when she's accepted into the private, elite, and entirely made-up Hamilton Club at Columbia, while Serena finds herself on the wrong side of its ivy-covered walls.

Of course, Serena's well-connected mother works it all out in 42 minutes, but real life is not so easy. Friendships get divided by new boyfriends, new schools, and new friends, especially in college when private groups like sororities, sports teams, and time-consuming clubs are a major part of life. So what are we to do?

  • Commit to making it work: Accept that you will both disappoint the other sooner or later, and understand it's not personal. If you both make an honest and concerted effort to keep plans (i.e. only cancel when you absolutely must) then there will be more trust and respect and less jealousy and paranoia.
  • Have phone dates: Schedule a time that works for both of you, whether it's every day, once a week, or on a case-by-case basis. Keep it, even if you can only talk for a few minutes.
  • See the friendship as an escape: No matter how much you love your new friends, it's nice to see old ones. You can get nostalgic, talk about people your new friends don't know, or vent about things you can't say to them.
  • Integrate friends slowly: If you want an old friend to mix with new ones, do it slowly. Bring her to dinner with one or two friends, but don't bring her to a party immediately. It's much easier to get to know a few people than the whole gang.
  • Accept that change isn't always bad: Staying friends doesn't have to mean keeping the friendship exactly the same. Talking less may sound like the worst thing now, but it rarely is in hindsight. You can drift apart, but still appreciate what you have together.

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Photo courtesy of The CW

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