A good friendship doesn’t happen by accident.
Just like a romantic relationship, it needs love and care to thrive.
Friendships can last for decades if you know how to nurture them, but they can dissolve quickly if you don’t put the effort into deepening the bond.
Don’t take your friends for granted!
Here are eight things you can do to keep your friendships in good health:
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1. Make a point of keeping up with every major area of their lives:
Your friend is probably juggling a lot of balls – career, relationships, hobbies, family, and so forth.
Make it clear that you are interested in everything that’s happening.
Even when you are bubbling over with your own news, slow down and give them the chance to share what they’ve been doing lately.
Lots of people feel as though no one really listens to them.
If you are a good listener, you will never be short of friends because you’ll be able to make anyone feel heard and valued.
2. When you hang out, try to schedule your next meetup before you part ways:
It’s easy to promise that you’ll hang out “soon,” then realize that suddenly three months have gone by since you last saw your friend.
The best way to prevent this happening is to make a point of setting a date before you wave goodbye.
Don’t be shy about asking them to tell you when they are free.
If they are a good friend, they will be enthusiastic about seeing you again.
3. Reminisce about the good times:
There’s nothing like shared memories and nostalgia for cementing a bond.
To keep a friendship healthy, you need to make new memories, but talking about your joint history and the fun adventures you’ve already enjoyed can be really uplifting.
4. Don’t just eat or drink – schedule activities together:
Do you and your friends just go for coffee or lunch?
Sharing a meal can be fun, but why not try other activities such as going for a walk or seeing a play?
It will give you something new to talk about, which will make for more interesting conversations.
5. Never be too proud to reach out first:
If it’s been a while since you last saw your friend, make the first move by reaching out and asking whether they’d like to meet up.
There’s a good chance that your friend has either been so busy that they’ve forgotten to keep in touch, or that they feel too self-conscious to send you a message.
6. Don’t keep score:
Healthy friendships are based on supporting one another and having fun.
If you feel the need to keep track of what you’re giving and receiving in your friendship, it’s time to slow down and assess whether you have a healthy dynamic.
Although one of you may need extra support from time to time, over the long run a healthy friendship should be balanced in terms of give and take.
Never try to manipulate a friend by pointing out how much you’ve done for them.
It won’t inspire them to make it up to you – it will only lead to resentment and arguments.
7. Share things that make you think of them:
Even when you haven’t seen your friend for a while, pass on articles, jokes, and news that made you think of them.
For example, you could send them a link to an online article about their favorite topic or attach an image that references an in-joke to a WhatsApp message.
8. Keep your expectations realistic:
Never expect more of your friends than they can reasonably deliver.
For instance, if your friend has recently become a first-time parent, it’s unrealistic to expect them to show up for drinks every Friday.
If you have a friend who has always been somewhat reluctant to grow up, don’t expect them to give you career advice or provide babysitting services.
Likewise, if they want too much from you, it’s time to set firm boundaries.
For example, if they expect you to listen to them talk about work troubles for hours at a time, you need to make it clear that you are not going to act as an unpaid therapist.
Despite our best intentions, sometimes friends drift apart or fall out of contact for months or even years at a time.
You can’t expect all your friendships to last forever.
On the other hand, if you follow the tips above, you stand a good chance of staying close with your friends for years to come.