Humans are social animals. We can’t be left alone forever and expect to still be sane. In fact, this social contact is so important that the lack of it might lead to loneliness and depression. It can even cost you your overall health.
And we get this daily dose from our affinity with friends. Friends are family you choose. But as adults, do you have a hard time maintaining your friendships across the board? Well, you are not alone. According to a study, the peak number of our friendly connections plateau at 25 years old.
When we become more focused on work and romantic relationships, our time with our best buds is usually neglected. Along the way, we lost contact with our clique. Never to hear from them again.
And these losses can be detrimental to your social, mental, and physical well-being. One can’t help but wonder, how do you even maintain friendships that will last a lifetime? Here are some tips.
Get to Know Them From a Personal Level
We have a lot of “friends” on Facebook. But the connections that stay forever are only the strong ones. So make it a point to get to know your friends on a personal level.
What are their interests? What do they value the most? Be genuinely interested in their life.
I’m not saying you fake liking their hobbies. It’s not necessary to be engrossed in heavy metal because of your friends when you don’t like it at all. But at least, try to value their interests and learn from it. For sure, you will find something to appreciate. After all, everyone is special.
The point is, get to know them and build trust. Share your strengths and weaknesses with each other. Build an honest and genuine connection with them.
Schedule Routines and Important Dates. Even Small Gestures Go A Long Way
Meeting your friends in person definitely beats just online interaction. If you can go over your schedule, setting a weeknight dinner with your mates will keep the friendship going. If you have book clubs or organizations your active in, you can invite your friends to accompany you on a session.
If you have a busy schedule, you can also go around and set tasks and do it with your friend/s. For example, errands to the market can be an opportunity to hang out while shopping. Or a gym session can be with a gym buddy.
And don’t forget those important dates. Do you know when is your friend’s birthday? Or do you remember their milestone moments or the grieving ones? Use your calendar (electronic or not) to remind you of these occasions.
Simple and small gestures do count. Writing a personalized thoughtful message during the saved dates will go a long way. Even random messages when you remember them when you see their favorite food or favorite person (ayieee!).
This personal interaction is a step closer to stronger friendships that will last a lifetime.
Manage Your Expectations
When we are invested in a person, we demand more. We expect more. We even try to change their wrongs. You must understand, it’s hard to change a person. I mean, it’s hard to even change yourself, why expect to change other people?
You are friends for both your good and bad qualities. Better set your expectation and accept them from who they truly are. I’m not saying you tolerate their transgressions forever. Still, give advice, but let them work on it on their pace. We are humans. We make mistakes.
Another thing is the effort you put in. You find that you give more effort like gifts, affection, and favor. Don’t expect them to give you exactly the equal value you put in. Don’t assume any commensurate return on your investment because there is no economics in friendships.
Just appreciate what they are doing for you. It may be that simple text or that free ride home. At least, they are going out of their way with what they currently can.
And if you’re in the other end who receives more, acknowledge their efforts. Most friends are not cheapskates who tabulate what they did for you. But at least, let them know that you value them.
Like you, as cheesy as it may sound, they would want to feel that they’re loved.
Support them (Even when It’s Inconvenient) but still Respect Boundaries
When something bad happens, your friends are the people you can cry to. They can provide emotional support in trying times. We should be there in their time of need as well.
It may be the time when they ended their 10-year relationship. They just need someone to talk to, at 10 PM coupled with a 2-hour drive away and your 6 AM work call time the next day. It may be inconvenient but it will surely mean the world to them.
But not everyone will open up immediately. Some of us need to be left alone. Just let them know that you are there. And just a call away. Giving them the space they need.
Maturely Resolve Disagreements
But friendships are not all rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns. Disagreements can happen. And when you know the weaknesses of your friend, this heated argument can be messy.
The fastest way to lose your friend or convert them to mortal enemies is raging out without apologizing or resolving this afterward. You may be in conflict for so long.
Make it a point to resolve your disagreements even if you need to set your pride aside. There are two parts of an argument. Admit the faults you might have. And hopefully, you can rekindle your relationship back.
End Toxic Friendships
But toxic friendships are a different story. Are you constantly stressed and emotionally drained because of your friendship? Do you find yourself happy or just resenting every minute of it?
In life, you don’t need many friends (if you have, then good for you). You just need enough valuable relationships to be happy. If a toxic relationship keeps you miserable, it might be the time to sever your ties with them.
Life is short. Allowing yourself to be free will give you more room for better relationships to follow.
With that, I hope we find our soul sisters or bros from another mother. Life is worth it when you are surrounded by lifelong friends! Have fun!