How do you keep friendship alive through the decades? As the Spice Girls mark 30 years since their first audition

This week marks 30 years since the Spice Girls had their first-ever audition. The band posted a flashback video on X (formerly Twitter) on Monday, along with the words #FriendshipNeverEnds – a nod to their famous Wannabe lyrics.

No doubt millions of people will remember belting out those never-forgotten words with their school friends back in the day, in their bedrooms or on the playground during break: If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends, make it last forever, friendship never e-eeee-nds!

But, have all those friendships lasted the test of time?

While not every mate and acquaintance is destined to stick around forever, some connections are worth holding on to, but life gets busy and can take us in different directions. So, how can we keep friendships alive through the decades?

Remember to check in every now and then

“Adult friendships can be difficult to maintain, due to everyone having differing responsibilities as life moves in different directions. To make your friendship last through decades, there’s a few things you can do. Make an effort to stay in touch regularly, even if it’s just a quick message or phone call every now and then,” says Nicky Wake, relationship expert and founder of Chapter2. “Regular communication helps to keep the connection alive and shows your friend that you value them.”

Be intentional with your actions

Life can get busy, especially when we are working, so it helps to be as intentional about your friendships as you are your career or parenting,” says Katie Abbotts, executive coach at Sonder Coaching.

“In coaching speak, we’d look at this through the lens of values. So if fun is important to you, a friend you can have fun will be valuable; if learning is your thing, maybe take a course together. Another tip is the notion of what/who brings you energy – so if you leave spending time with someone feeling satisfied and fulfilled, it could be a good clue they are the right friend for you.”

Wake adds: “Maintaining strong friendships requires effort and commitment from both parties. Make your friendships a priority, invest time and energy into nurturing them, and show your friends that you value their presence in your life.”

Show up in good times and bad

Wake adds: “Show up for your friend during both the good times and the bad. Offer a listening ear, provide encouragement, and offer your support whenever they need it. Being there for each other builds trust and deepens your friendship.

“A good tip is to celebrate important milestones and achievements in each other’s lives. Whether it’s a birthday, promotion, or anniversary, showing your friend that you’re happy for their successes strengthens your bond. Show that you care by being thoughtful and considerate, remember important dates, send unexpected messages or gifts, and offer help when needed. Small gestures go a long way in nurturing long-lasting friendships.”

Create traditions together

Life can easily get in the way as time goes on, so whether monthly, quarterly or annually is all you can realistically manage, Wake says: “Establishing traditions or rituals with your friends is a great way to keep in contact. Whether it’s an annual trip, a monthly dinner, or a regular game night, these shared experiences create lasting memories.”

Be flexible and understanding

There’s a huge difference between being ‘flaky’ in a bad way, and having to cancel or rearrange plans when stuff comes up that can’t be helped – and healthy friendships need a bit of grace and understanding.

“It’s good to recognise that everyone’s lives have different demands and priorities. Be understanding if your friend can’t always be available or if plans need to be rescheduled. Flexibility and empathy are crucial for maintaining strong friendships amidst life’s challenges,” says Wake.

Remember why you care

It’s normal for things to shift as we get older, especially if our lives take different paths. But if you cherish the connection, distance and differences don’t have to put an end to that bond. Remind yourself why you value someone, even if you see each other less than you once did.

“If your lives take quite different paths, only you know and can measure the value of that friendship – it might be invisible what the benefit is to anyone but you,” says Abbotts. “If they accept you, and support your life going forward, it could be a relationship worth nurturing regardless of your different paths. For example, a friend may bring a deep level of empathy or wisdom to your relationship, another great career advice – we need different friends for different things at different times in our lives.”

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