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Friendships are part of the lifeblood of human existence. Without connection with others, anything else we may accomplish in life seems hollow. It’s important to take time to nurture our bonds.
What can you do to foster closer ties with those you care about, regardless of if they aren’t blood-relatives? Here are eight tips on how to strengthen friendships.
Some friends can go years without talking to each other and pick up where they left off as if it was yesterday. However, if you want to strengthen your bonds, it’s best to reach out more regularly. After all, many things happen in your daily lives — you want to keep informed about what’s happening with those near and dear to you.
Fortunately, technology now makes it possible to connect with anyone, anywhere in the world, for free or close to it. You can use Whatsapp or even Facetime or Google Meet to connect live and send each other air kisses through the screen.
Communication is a two-way street. It’s as important to listen as to be heard — perhaps more so.
When you and your friend meet face-to-face, practice good active listening skills by maintaining eye contact, paying attention to non-verbal cues and asking clarifying questions. It’s also vital to limit judgments, especially when discussing controversial topics. Instead of defending your position as a default, ask your friend why they feel the way they do.
Every human being is unique, beautiful — and infinitely quirky. You won’t see eye-to-eye with your friend over everything, and you might find some of their habits downright annoying. However, no one likes to hear constant criticism, and what you think of as playful barbs can wear down your friendship over time.
Instead, practice acceptance. For example, if you know your friend is habitually late, don’t beat them up verbally for it. You might get a little sneaky, telling them an event begins a bit sooner than in reality — or merely understand that they may roll in an hour or so after your other guests.
Making time for your friend matters. No, you might not feel like helping them lug their couch when it’s time to move. However, you should probably lend a hand if you expect them to do the same for you when it’s your turn.
Often, friendships get buried under life’s other priorities like work and family. If you can’t set a weekly girl or guy night out, could you do so once a month? Some friends get together once a year for a weekend getaway — a road trip with your BFFs gives you something to look forward to during those long workdays.
One of the best parts about having a BFF is not having to try new things solo. Why not make it an adventure by doing it together?
Friendship can help you overcome your fear of trying that fun-looking Zumba class at the gym. You can giggle at each other as you struggle to master the moves. Are you the adventurous sort? Perhaps your BFF is up for trying skydiving with you if your spouse or partner says no.
Friendship means sharing secrets. Revealing them can sound the death knell on your relationship.
You might think some things are too juicy to avoid sharing with your partner if you’re hitched — but doing so is still a betrayal. If you find the news gnawing at your brain, try whispering it to your pet or writing it on a piece of paper and burying it somewhere. Do anything but let it cross your lips to another.
You know that your intimate relationships often sour with resentment if you don’t say thank you for the many things your partner does for you. The same principle applies to friendships.
Take the time to show appreciation for all your friends do for you. If they show up to help on moving day, go beyond the typical pizza. Perhaps you can plan an at-home spa day to pamper each other and recover your poor nails from all those boxes. If you have more cash, you might even treat them to a trip to the salon.
It feels crummy when no one remembers your birthday or acknowledges milestones like graduating from college. Honor your friend’s special events.
You might not be able to show up for every baby shower, and financial constraints sometimes force you to say no to that invitation to join their wedding party. However, you can still honor the occasion with a heartfelt gift — you can always go homemade if your budget is a shoestring.
Your friendships are vital to your mental health. Give them the love they deserve and learn how to strengthen friendships with these tips.