Friendship is one of the best things in life. Having people you can lean on in tough times and celebrate with during great times is amazing. However sometimes life gets busy and stressful, or physical or emotional distance comes between you and your friends. Here are some tips for maintaining and strengthening your friendships.
As with so many personal things in life, communication is key. Make a point of always being honest and sharing your life as well as being interested and engaged about your friend’s life and what he or she is facing, celebrating and doing in life. It’s good to communicate in a healthy way without always talking about your problems, and it’s also good to maintain an accepting attitude to your friend and their needs and interests.
Sometimes you won’t agree with your friends and their beliefs or choices, but try your best to be supportive and communicate. You can’t always give useful advice or “fix” what your friends are dealing with, but you can be there for them and be a genuine, supportive person. A good rule of thumb is to be the kind of friend you hope others will be for you. It will be a big help.¹
One of the best ways to enjoy deeper, longer-lasting friendships is to prioritize quality over quantity. It is great to have a lot of friends, but all of us only have a certain amount of time and attention, especially when our jobs and other life responsibilities come into play. Focus on the friendships that mean the most to you: this can mean old friends you’ve known since childhood, but it can also mean those who you feel a deep connection with when you meet or talk. Instead of chit chat with every second person you meet, cultivate deeper friendships with those who are most special to you and focus your time and energy on the friends who you want to still be talking to in ten years.²
A Matter Of Time
In this age of smartphones and email time is a precious resource that always seems to be in short supply. In many cases it will take a conscious and sustained effort to make time to stay in touch with friends. Even if it is just a short call to check in, a Christmas card and gift, or a brief visit on Sunday afternoon, showing that you care and are thinking of your friends will help make your friendship last and deepen. Make time for your friends and they will make time for you. Everyone understands that their friends are busy, but sometimes even a small gesture can go a long way.³
The Only Constant Is Change
In life the only thing that is guaranteed is that there will be changes. This includes changes in your life and your friends’ lives. It’s important to be patient and strong during times of transition. This could mean everything from a problem your friend is going through like a divorce to a physical move, health challenge, new social circles or changing interests and focuses. All of us are in a process of change and that’s a good thing. Keeping and strengthening friendship is all about riding with the changes.²
Know Your Boundaries
Even though friends are those we want to always be open to and spend time with it’s important to have boundaries even with those close to us. This could mean in terms of how much time you have to talk or hang out and how late you can stay out when you spend time together, the level of advice and listening you can give or even limits on how much negativity or problems you can handle. Everyone has their limit and that is OK. A friendship is built on respect and – going back to the first tip – it’s optimal to communicate exactly where you are at with your friends and don’t be afraid to set boundaries about what you can deal with or spend time on.³