Shared Experience Roots : Grow + Change

When Shared Experience Roots Grow + Change

If you’re wondering how to keep friendships alive, look no further! Friendships centered around a single shared experience, such as work, can be meaningful and fulfilling. However, if you don’t recognize that your friendship is relying on this single root, a change can catch you off guard. 

To ensure that your friendships last, build a variety of roots. This requires stepping outside your comfort zone (even with your oldest friends) and investing energy into finding ways to spend time together.

PODCAST EPISODE! Want to learn more about emotional intimacy roots? Listen to my episode on the three kinds of roots here.

QUICK Recap of Shared Experience roots

We meet and spend time with friends somewhere. Slowly over time, we develop Shared Experience Roots with them. Shared Experience Roots are often (but not always) the first roots you develop with new friends. 

You’ll constantly need to grow new shared experience roots and mourn shared experience roots that die which basically means — you need to be intentional about how you spend time with friends.


Shared Experience Roots are:

  • The places where we connect such as work, school, our neighborhood
  • The ways we spend time together and experience life together
  • The interests that make us think of each other.
  • The mutual activities/interests we share
  • The ways we are comfortable spending life together
  • The reasons we initiate contact


Some Examples of Shared Experience Roots: 

  • You both work at the same company.
  • You both are members of the same book club.
  • You met volunteering at the food bank. 
  • You both love to cook. You are constantly sharing recipes back and forth.
  • You both love to read and text about books you just finished.
  • Inviting one of your oldest friends to your parent’s anniversary party
  • You constantly send slack messages during the workday but rarely talk on weekends.
  • You always talk to this other mom at the park. She mentioned she knows a great babysitter. You rarely speak outside of the park encounters, but you text randomly and ask for the babysitter’s number.


Growing Strong Shared experience roots

Frequency, intimacy, creating emotional intimacy roots are all ways to strengthen shared experience roots and keep friendships alive longterm. 


Frequency: You see each other every day! 


Consistency: There’s no need to schedule time together. You already have the built-in consistency of seeing each other at the office daily.


Creating emotional intimacy roots: You have many chances to build emotional intimacy roots because you see each other nearly daily. 


Over time you’ve broadened the range of topics you talk about with your work friend.


  • You started to reveal how frustrated you are with your boss.
    You vent your frustrations that someone received a promotion over you. 
  • You had to talk to your co-worker about some boundaries when it comes to stopping by your desk – you just aren’t a morning person. Please don’t stop by until you’ve had a few hours of uninterrupted work. 


But since you tend to chat daily, you’ve both started to share about your personal lives too.


  • Their parents are coming into town next weekend, and it’s causing them stress.
  • Your husband has a big project launching at work this year, which means he’s traveling all the time. 
  • Their oldest child made the honor roll.


You are already comfortable with your shared experience root, so you start to grow offshoots. 


Some offshoots you and your work friend have:: 


  • You suggested grabbing happy hour one time, and now it’s a regular occurrence.
  • You’ve met each other’s spouses at work parties.
  • You’ve started extending the work trips you take together. You two have fun traveling together, so why not stay a couple of extra nights after those conferences to explore the city.


Your work root might still be alive and well, but something might cause it to shift. 


Good News: your friend accepted an internal promotion!
Bad News: they are now in a different department. 


  • They no longer need to go on those work trips you both loved. 
  • You’ll still see each other at work every day, can easily grab happy hour, and see each other at work functions, but you’ve lost one of your favorite ways to spend time together.

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There is a lot of talk about ending friendships, but there isn’t a lot of friends quotes out there about just mourning the loss of a particular part of your friendship.


When your friend took the new job across town, your shared experience root got pretty small. However, when you get together for the running club, work still comes up in conversation.


  • You text your friend about work drama. 
  • She stops by for team happy hours every once in a while to see you and catch up with other co-workers. 


After a few months, she asks you to stop sharing work drama with her since she left to get away from it. The history you shared at work remains in your emotional intimacy roots as memories. The last remaining part of that shared experience root has died.


  • You’ll need to find someone new to vent to
  • You’ll need to respect her boundary. 
  • You’ll need to keep leaning into the new shared experience roots you two have created. 


Or, perhaps, you haven’t created other shared experience roots, and this friendship will likely fade. We don’t need to focus on how to keep every friendship alive! It’s ok to let some go. 

REGROW/ Diversify

Friendships that center around a single shared experience root – in this case, work – can be meaningful and fulfilling friendships! However, if you don’t realize that your friendship is depending on a single root, a change can catch you off guard. Building a variety of shared experience roots with friends helps build lasting friendships.

Your friend took a new job at a company across town! You are super excited for her and sad that things feel so different now.  

  • No more stopping by each other’s desks. 
  • No more work trips. 
  • You need to plan for happy hours now that they require a drive across town.

To keep your friendship feeling as connected as before, you’ll need to build some new shared experience roots and create consistency intentionally. 

As you saw above, this process takes some trial and error. 

  • Join a running club together. 
  • Plan trips with your spouses together. 
  • Make brunch plans on the weekends. 
  • Decide to get season tickets together. 

None of this is impossible! Building new shared experience roots requires stepping outside your comfort zone (even with your oldest friends) and investing energy into finding ways to spend time together.

Shared Experience Roots Keep Us Connected

We reach out to friends because we are comfortable spending time together in specific ways. 

They share the same interest.
They enjoy the same activities. 

Our shared experience roots are where we create emotional intimacy roots and act in a way that confirms our story roots. Learn more about the overall picture of how to keep friendships alive here. 

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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