People need friendships. Whether you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert, we all require genuine friendships to make life just a little bit easier on ourselves. Friendships are great for our health, as well! Science proves that adults with strong social ties have reduced risk for health issues like depression, high blood pressure, and unhealthy body mass index. Plus, let’s not forget the simple fact that being (and having) a friend is fun.
The pandemic had a strong influence on many aspects of life, and friendship is one of them. In fact, one survey found that over the course of the pandemic, 22% of respondents felt that their friendships had deteriorated. If there’s anything we can learn from this, it’s the importance of setting a solid foundation for relationships that can weather any storm.
Maybe you’re already the best friend in the entire world, you look out for your people, and you put a consistent focus on growing your friendships. And if you’re lucky, the people in your life are great at all of that, too! But as with every other aspect of life, building lasting relationships is an area that we could all use some improvement in. We’ve got some suggestions to help you get started.
Clap for each other.
As much as 10% of our thoughts involve comparisons of some kind—and that doesn’t just mean thinking about how we measure up to strangers on Instagram™ (although we definitely do that, too!). In reality, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to those we’re closest to, especially our friends!
Your gut instinct may tell you to be threatened by the success of others, but what if we were to let them inspire us instead? Be proud of your friends for all the things they’re doing while letting it motivate you to make strides of your own (tips on how to do this here!). In the world of friendship, when one of us wins, we all win.
We always assume that our friends know how much they mean to us, but when was the last time you went out of your way to prove it, or even say it? Appreciation is the backbone of any great relationship, and lucky for you, it can be done in more ways than one! Words of affirmation are a great place to start (example: “I’m lucky to have a friend like you”), but you can show your appreciation in many ways.
How about going for a morning hike, just the two of you (if you’re in the Spokane area, these are some of our favorites!)? Or what about giving a gift for no reason? It doesn’t even have to be expensive! Here are a few meaningful, cost-effective ideas:
- Printed photos
- Handwritten notes
- Homemade baked goods
- Lunch dates
No matter what you choose to do, the moral of the story is that people appreciate someone who appreciates them. So, go out of your way to prove it as often as you can!
Check in often.
Between family, work, and trying to find a spare moment for yourself, it’s hard to pencil in time for friends. But like any other priority in your life, it’s important to make the time. In a perfect world, you’d have time to schedule that 2-hour-long, sit-down weekly brunch, but for most of us, that’s just not possible. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be! If you have 5 minutes in the car, how about a call just to catch up? Or if you have a free lunch break, maybe grab a quick coffee together.
A common misconception is that a check-in with a friend has to be something that’s planned well in advance or be something extravagant. This definitely isn’t feasible on the regular for anyone! That doesn’t mean you have to lose your friendship connection completely. Try a quick text or call, or if they live close by, drop in for 5 minutes on the way home from work to say, “Hi!”
Friendship is a two-way street.
We all need people in our lives who push us to be our best selves, but while it’s important to find those people, it’s just as important to be that person for others. Starting a friendship is often the easiest part (“Oh, you love tacos? So do I! Let’s be friends.”), but maintaining it takes effort.
There are times when you may have plenty of time to see each other, and other times when you go months without in-person contact … that’s normal. The important thing is to establish such a solid foundation that when you do get to spend time together, it feels like no time has passed. After all, those are the best kinds of relationships.