Friendships fade every day. There’s a rumor that friendships that have lasted for at least 7 years will last a lifetime, but we’ve seen so many counterexamples in our own lives. It doesn’t matter if you’ve met during an incredible weeklong trip abroad, spent an entire semester in Japanese history together, struggled at the same company for years, or if you’ve known each other since grade school. Some friendships even turn into to love and marriage before ending in divorce. These things happen. If you learn to find joy in the memories rather than attaching them to the person, you can let go of anger and bitterness and instead be grateful for your time together. But there are some friendships that do last a lifetime. While we cannot guarantee a recipe for a lifelong friendship, we can offer some advice on how to be a better friend to the people you care about now.It happens, especially when you’re going through some transitions. But friends are priceless, and just like any relationship, you have to put some work into it. The first thing you should do is reflect on where you’re at in your friendships. Have you been in contact? Have you been ghosting them? Be honest with yourself, and go from there.
You know how hair stylists sometimes ask if you’d like to book your next appointment right after getting a haircut? If you know you’re going to be busy, this is something that could possibly work between friends. If you’re already out with them, talk about the next time you’ll see each other. You don’t have to be aggressive about it, just try not to be so vague. Another thing that helps is Google calendar (don’t forget to set reminders if you’re a busy bee).
If you’ve made plans with a friend, do show up. If an emergency comes up, that’s perfectly understandable. Just be honest about it. If you’re not in the mood, try to think of more than just yourself and meet up with them anyway. Oftentimes people don’t feel like going out, end up doing so, and feel glad that they did. Show up. Your friends will appreciate you for it. If you really don’t want to go out, try inviting them over.
We can’t always live near our friends, especially when life takes us elsewhere. I know a few people that plan annual trips. Just last month, I was sitting next to a man on a plane when he told me that he goes on golfing trips every year with his best mates, one of them he knew his whole life and the other, he met in college. The two others didn’t know each other at first, but he brought them together and they get along well. Don’t be afraid to initiate something like this. If budget is an issue for any person in the group, be sensible. If it isn’t, don’t be afraid to splurge!
It’s best to talk in person but it isn’t always possible. If you wait to see each other in person, you could be waiting for a very long time. If your friend has something to celebrate or is going through something tough, give them a ring. You should also do this if you haven’t heard from them in a long time, you know, just because.
As we grow older, we have this expectation that we’ll also grow wiser, but before we get there, we’ll have plenty run-ins with inadequacy. It can feel crushing. While it is important to have self confidence, don’t think that you have to fake it. Not with friends. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and tell them about your struggles. They may not be able to solve your problems for you, and you shouldn’t expect them to, but they will be there for you.
We’re like speed racers when it comes to sending out emails or text messages, but we should really slow down. It’s obvious when a friend takes some time to write out their thoughts and when they don’t.
You can even borrow ideas you’ve seen on TV. One of my closest friends brought me a basket of muffins and it was exactly what I needed at the time. You don’t need a reason to do these things, plus it’s a lot of fun.
Most of our schedules are pretty packed, but that doesn’t mean we can’t see our friends. If you have a few yoga classes each week, invite them to one or both. Running or jogging is also a great way to spend time together.
If either of you are holding a grudge, forgiveness is in order. Grant it or ask for it, but only if you truly mean it. Holding onto that negative energy is harmful for you and the relationship.
Notice that your friend has been stressed out lately? Maybe they’re working towards a goal, maybe it’s their dream, maybe it’s the bills. You don’t want to throw them off, but try to help them take care of themselves in small ways. Treat them to some coffee or ice cream. Prescribe them with a mandatory night of fun.
While it is true that friends are accepting of who we are, we shouldn’t get lazy around them. Don’t run your mouth and think it’s impossible to offend them just because they’re your friend. If you happen to do this, stop yourself and apologize. You may not agree on everything, and that’s fine, but remember that they have feelings too.
When you peer into a mirror, you see everything. Similarly, when you see your friends, you see more about them than other people do. Moreover, the two of you are mirrors of each other. You may not look the same and you may not believe in all the same things, but you share memories, secrets, and you know about each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Remember not to judge and to practice loving on your friend.
Friendship isn’t just about fun or dumping all your problems on someone. I’ve talked to people before that didn’t really listen to me, they simply waited for their turn to talk. It felt like lecturing. Needless to say, I do not consider these people friends. Give your friends respect by listening, really listening, to them.
I’ve recently had a close friend call me out on something. I love to meet people and make new friends, but in the process, I’m often stretched thin. I agree to most plans, leaving me less time than I’d like with the people that truly matter. Not everyone has this problem, but if you’re anything like me, it might help to stop yourself and recognize that your time is precious and limited. Reserve it for those golden friends. Don’t feel bad if you have to cut certain people out of your life.
Many of us are guilty of being fair-weather friends, being a friend to someone only when times are pleasant or when we can get something out of it. You might wonder, ‘How will this benefit me?’ But that’s not how friendship works. Is your friend having a meltdown? Be there. Are they broke? Be there. Life gets ugly sometimes. The good thing is that the ugliness comes in cycles and your friend will bounce back soon enough. In the meantime, just be there.
This is a sad truth but if you are there for the people you care about, it can strengthen the relationship. If it doesn’t, don’t be bitter about it. Find peace in knowing that you did everything that you could.