Low Maintenance Friendships: Making Them Work | EP64

Friendship IRL Podcast - Episode 64 - Are Low Maintenance Friendships Actually Low Maintenance?

We all want friendships that feel easy and rewarding. But in trying to keep things “low-maintenance,” are we actually making things harder on ourselves? In Episode 64 of Friendship IRL, host Alex Alexander digs into our cultural assumptions around low-maintenance friendships – and how to reframe them in a more fulfilling way.

Questioning the “Impossible Zone”

As Alex points out, many of us feel pressure to stay in an “impossible zone” with friendships and relationships.

“We’re all trying to live in this impossible zone of not the neglectful friend but not the ‘too much’ friend – the perfect low-maintenance friend. And that seems like a really small zone that we’re trying to exist in.”

The problem? This approach tends to deny our inherent needs for support and attention in friendships. And paradoxically, the mental energy required to stay in this zone can make maintaining friendships with people anything but low-effort.

Redefining “Low-Maintenance”

So what’s the alternative? Alex proposes this reframe:

“The new way we are thinking about low-maintenance friendships is simple and consistent friendships that honor the season of life we’re in and the obligations we have. Because at the end of the day, maintaining anything, including a friendship or connection requires some energy to keep things going.”

Rather than lengthy gaps punctuated by big catch-up sessions (what Alex calls “loaves of bread”), think small, steady gestures (“breadcrumbs”). Some “breadcrumb” ideas:

  • Scheduling brief recurring check-in calls/texts

  • Sharing voice memos to stay in touch

  • Quick social media comments to stay engaged

  • Hanging out while doing everyday errands/activities

The key is finding what works for you and your friend in this season of life. As Alex advises, ask yourself: “What capacity do you have in this season of life? What feels easy for you right now? And what do you enjoy?”

Open Communication, Simpler Connections

Underlying this approach is a spirit of open communication about what friendship can look like. Alex encourages having more direct conversations with friends about “how we each are able to show up in friendships.”

With aligned expectations and an emphasis on consistent, simple touchpoints, low-maintenance friendships can become a true source of ease and comfort. As Alex puts it:

“Friendship should be a reprieve, not a burden; let’s make it easier on ourselves by focusing on consistent, simple connections.”

Key Takeaways

  • Our cultural story around “low-maintenance friendship” often denies our relational needsRedefine low-maintenance as simple, consistent connection aligned with your season of lifeSmall, steady gestures (“breadcrumbs”) are more effective than occasional big efforts (“loaves”)Open communication with friends is key to finding an approach that works for you

For more insights, listen to the full conversation with Alex Alexander on Friendship IRL. And join the discussion: how could you redefine “low-maintenance” in your own friendships?

Dive Deeper into the Episode

Dive deeper into Alex’s thoughts on low-maintenance friendships by listening to Episode 63 of Friendship IRL Podcast in full.

Profile Photo for Alex Alexander a blonde haired white woman smiling at the camera. She is in her 30s with her hair down and curled and wearing a grey sweater.

Hi! I'm Alex.

I am just a person who has spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to understand some of the relationships that I hold most dear. I invite you to join in on the conversation below in the comments section below.

Ask questions, leave comments, share critiques or give advice. All are welcome.

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Hi. I'm Alex.

I'm just a gal who cares deeply about community + friendship. Why? Well, I didn't have a healthy support system growing up.

So I built one... out of friends. I believe a healthy support system is the ultimate self-care.

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