Friends are a valuable and indispensable part of our lives. Our friends lend us support, celebrate our victories, and listen to our rambling 2 AM stories. Having strong friendships is something that should never be overlooked. Isolation is one major sign of emotional or mental health struggles. Yet most friendships aren’t just a simple deal of meeting a person, chatting a bit, and becoming friends for the rest of your life — no, just like romantic relationships, friendships take work. What can you do to strengthen friendships in your life? We have five great ways to prioritize these important relationships.
- Be a listener: Nothing will strengthen a friendship more than taking the time and effort to check in on your friend and show you’re genuinely interested in how things are going for them. It’s easy for our friendships to become receptacles for venting, but we need to make sure we give our friends the space to do their own venting. Make a conscious effort to check in with your friends about things you know are going on in their lives; listening is an instant way to strengthen friendships.
- Make plans: It’s easy for our demands at work, within our romantic relationships, and our family to take center stage and leave our friends as side characters, but this can cause our friendships to fall by the wayside. Dedicate time to making plans with your friends regularly, whether it’s a weekly nail salon visit or a workout class you take together. Having regular plans with your friends is the best way to strengthen friendships.
- Share the love: We tend to place all the emphasis on our romantic relationship in our love-obsessed society, but love can take many forms, and friendship is a beautiful place to share some love. Treat your friends like you would your partner by making a big deal out of their birthdays and treating them to lunch now and then. If we want to strengthen our friendships, treating them like one of the other meaningful relationships in our lives is the best route.
- Remember your manners: This tip to strengthen friendships can apply to all our meaningful relationships — remember to express your gratitude. It’s easy to get caught up in daily life and assume your friends know you are grateful for them in your life, but taking the time to say the words can make a big difference. Everyone loves to be appreciated, our friends included.
- Be supportive, not permissive: Part of being in a healthy friendship is pushing each other towards improvement. Friends that don’t show care by staying quiet or encouraging each other to do harmful things are not genuine friends. The best way to strengthen friendships is to show your care for someone by supporting their growth and being willing to voice your concern when that growth is at stake.