How to Maintain Friendships as a Freelancer

The world of freelancing can sometimes be thought of as a double-edged sword. On one side, there’s the potential of being our own bosses and making our own schedules. On the other side, if we don’t work, we don’t have money coming in to pay bills and to save for vacations, aspirational purchases, etc.

Oftentimes, we find ourselves working harder than if we had set salaries and hours, which can strain personal relationships, such as friendships. It’s all in a matter of approach, though, and if looked at from a positive viewpoint, freelancing is a great test of who is, and who is not a true friend.

Defining Friendship

The terms “friend” and “acquaintance” are very different things, with the latter often being mistaken for the former. Acquaintances are people who we’ve met perhaps through work or shared interests. We might talk to them occasionally or see them at events, but neither party is particularly involved in the other’s personal life. In all honesty, these are the sorts of relationships many of us freelancers find ourselves having more often than not, as they suit our varied hours/unpredictable schedules.

What, then, is a “friend?” It’s someone we’ve shared a lot of our time with, perhaps over a period of years. It’s someone we’ve confided in, someone who knows not just us, but our families – in fact, as the saying goes, “Friends are the families we choose,” and can mean more to us than our blood relatives.

Keeping the Connection

It’s no wonder, then, that for us freelancers, acquaintances sometimes tend to last longer than friendships. Nothing stays the same in our world; there are new clients, new projects. Things might take on a predictable pattern for several months, or even a year or two, and then it’s time to move on professionally, and sometimes personally. The most successful freelancers have mastered the art of regularly adapting to new approaches.

With deadlines ever looming, prolonged absences from social activities can be commonplace for us. So, when we find ourselves working on projects that take up most of our time, where do our friends fit in? Consider the following:

  • Build in breaks. Regardless of work, breaks are an essential part of our health/wellbeing. Sharing a meal with friends is a great way to keep in touch. Short on time? Meet for coffee/tea, etc. or at a casual restaurant.
  • Appreciate the virtues of seasonal scheduling. I tend to work harder during the fall and winter months, so that I have more time to really enjoy the spring and summer. Share my perspective? Consider sporadic social events throughout the colder months, and begin to schedule in social time a month or so in advance of the nicer weather.
  • Know friend from foe. Healthy friendships are ones in which we aren’t controlled or guilt-tripped into doing things. Friends don’t judge, understand when space is needed, and are supportive of personal and professional endeavors.

Making Time for What Matters Most

Isn’t it interesting how, even in our busiest of times, we still manage to find time for the things that mean the most to us? We might not see our friends as often as we would like, yet we still do reach out regularly via phone/text/social media to check in with them, and vice versa.

If the prospect of meeting up with a friend is starting to feel more like a chore than fun, it might be time to reevaluate if this is a friendship to keep close, or to segue more into the acquaintance category. Changing circumstances are often natural catalysts for people to grow apart, regardless of if it has to do with freelancing or not. Remember, the truest, healthiest friendships are forged in bonds that will never be broken.

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