We’ve all heard the phrase “in order to make friends you must be friendly” and while this may be true to an extent friendship are built on much more then friendliness.
Relationships can be challenging especially since it requires at least two people to make it work. I’m not just talking about romantic relationships but also platonic ones.
I’ve heard clients ask me where to meet people and how to develop a support network. I often suggest they find friends while doing the things they love. Enjoy reading? Join a book club. Love hiking? Join a walking group. Want to increase your spiritual support? Join a local church group, get the point? Finding people doing the things you love will often create a common backbone to kick off the new friendship. You can also check out meet.com or volunteer at your favorite charity to meet new people.
Friendships take time, endure hardships, joys, challenges, rainy days, and sunny ones too that blossom over time. Friendships sometimes last a season or a life time depending on the people and the foundation of the friendships.
It’s safe to safe that most healthy relationships are built on trust and respect. Without those two pillars the relationship will hit rocky ground and collapse, leaving one resentful, bitter, and bruised.
How do you keep friendships that stand the test of time?
Patience. Relationships require patience, it ebbs and flows with life’s journey. Patience is a key element because without it your relationship won’t grow, be tested in fiery circumstances, and come out as pure gold. Patience will ultimately determine the length of your relationship, and if your friendship will stay together or fall apart.
Forgive. People make mistakes and having the courage to apologize, communicate and resolve issues will allow the relationship to grow stronger.
Support the Movement. If you have friends that aren’t supportive or encouraging of your life decisions, relationships, work goals, etc it can be hard to feel supported leaving you feel resentful or doubtful.
Communication. Whether you call or text everyday or once a month, keep the communication flowing on both ends. You shouldn't be the only one reaching out and neither should they. If you’re not in the loop of their lives how can they be in the loop of yours? Communication creates a sense of support, unconditional regard, and allows people to feel loved and valued. If you don’t communicate or get to busy set up monthly check in’s on your phone/calendar. Use assertive communication with a neutral tone and open body language with “I” statements. “I felt sad when you didn’t show up to my show” or “I feel neglected when you _______” Being able to state your needs and wants while respecting theirs will allow the friendship to feel nourished and safe.
Appreciation. If they are important let them know. Send them a message that you are thinking of them, or a card in the mail. Who doesn’t love a little appreciation? It goes a long way and when reciprocated makes a difference on rough days.
Loyalty. A loyal friend does not always have to agree with you, but at the end of the day we all want that friend that holds us down and keeps us grounded. Loyal friends are supportive and care for you. They have the right words to say or can simply just listen, and stand by your side in all circumstances. They don’t ask for a payback or have an ulterior motive. They are there because they care and in return you do the same. Your success is their success and vice versa.
Honesty. Relationship beg for honesty in the good times and not so great times. Self-respect and being trust worthy are some of the most important things in friendships. An honest friend that stands with you at every stage in life is dependable. Honesty decreases stress and anxiety. Telling the truth increases personal relationships and social interactions. Being honest in the relationship will help you feel open with each other and strength the relationship.
Enjoy the relationship and remember everyday is a new opportunity to grow.