Ways to Maintain Good Friendship
Modern-day technology and social media make it easier to stay connected with friends and keep up with their successes, interests and status updates. But busy lifestyles, superficial communication, false intimacy and even neediness make it harder to develop and keep real friendships. Believe it or not, not many of us have good friends in our lives. If we did all have great friends then depression and suicide would be at an all-time low — and we know that’s not the case.
Most of us know what makes a good friend, yet not too many of us know how to make good friends and keep them around. We let go of the relationships and connections that would have been most valuable in the long run. Here are some ways to encourage stronger relationship with your friends:
1. Relying on first impressions is a good place to start
Gut feelings aren’t nonsense. Human beings do have intuition. We are sometimes able to pick up on minor signs and details that make us feel a certain way without exactly understanding why. Your gut isn’t always spot on, but if it tells you to be wary, then be wary.
2. Be more conscious of your friendships
Sometimes we are so busy with life and family that we forget that we have friends. We need to be aware that the friends in our lives won’t be there forever. Although they may be “just” a neighbor or classmate today, it doesn’t mean they will be tomorrow. Be aware that the people you spend time with as friends is the first step in building stronger relationships.
3. See how you can help a friend in trouble
There’s no better time to be a great friend than in times of hardship and trouble. You don’t have to solve the problem but you can be a shoulder to lean on, someone to share a meal with or help with an errand. Often, friends who are experiencing hardship don’t reach out for fear of imposing on others. I was fortunate that many of my friends made the effort to reach out to me and ask how they could help.
4. Spend time with friends
Cultivating durable friendships involves building a solid foundation, resolving disagreements and misunderstandings, and showing appreciation for the person’s presence in your life. These all require staying in touch with your friends, not just online but offline as well. Staying connected includes spontaneous telephone calls, quick emails, and online chatting just to say hi or to touch base on challenges and successes in life. It also means making time for face-to-face meetups, which are key to creating and maintaining a close bond.
5. Set and respect boundaries
When your friend is going through a tough time or facing a crisis, let her know how and when to best reach you for support. Constant complaining and venting can undermine the long-term viability of your friendship, no matter how close it is. While revealing your frustrations and disappointments to good friends is natural and healthy, you also want to avoid relying on them for free therapy. Setting and respecting healthy boundaries are critical to maintaining real friendships.
6. Limit expectations
Many times when friends anger or upset us, it is usually because of unrealistic expectations. We expect friends to thank us for kind gestures, to call us on our birthdays or remember our important events. In the real world, however, friends make mistakes and don’t always do what you think they should. Stop expecting people to behave the way you expect. In fact, reducing expectations or demands of friends will reduce potential disappointment in them.
7. Be open to feedback
Asking for your friend’s comments, thoughts and opinions on your latest project or a decision you have to make is a huge compliment to them. If you solicit their feedback to help you build self-awareness, create new habits, and make positive changes, this shows how much you value their insights. Whether they have similar or different backgrounds, beliefs and philosophies, good friends bring a unique perspective to your life.
8. Resolve disagreements in emotionally mature ways
Get through conflicts by expressing what’s on your mind instead of allowing resentment to fester. State your preferences and point of view to create clarity and encourage dialogue, instead of making arguments to try and coerce your friend into agreeing with you. Attempting to instill fear, obligation and guilt or using any type of emotional blackmail are no-nos if you want to keep a good friendship.
9. Build trust
Disclosing your likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, and failures and successes encourages your friend to reciprocate and build a true connection with you. When a friend shares personal information with you, consider it as a step further into cultivating an authentic friendship, not as a means to gain leverage, content for gossip, or social power. Practicing honesty and transparency, keeping confidences, and showing genuine interest in your friend’s well being are key to establishing trust. Do what you say you’re going to do. Keep your promises or renegotiate if you can’t keep them.
10. Don’t let life drift you apart
Life requires all our attention. When things get hectic or rough, a lot of people have the tendency to separate themselves and close themselves off. We get caught up in our lives and begin to distance ourselves. Don’t wait for them to contact you because they are likely waiting on the same thing from you. Make sure to maintain regular contact with the friends that you have because if you don’t then they won’t be there when you do need them, or you won’t be there for them when they need you.
Good friends are hard to come by so value the friendships you do have and they will last you a lifetime.