How To Maintain True Friendships: 5 Powerful Ways

The feeling of finding true friendship

True friendships help bring meaning to our lives. Good friends share our ups and downs, give us a sense of belonging and help shape who we become. Strong social support in the form of friendships can even help us live longer lives. But, maintaining long-term friendships can be tricky in our busy lives.

Why Friendships Fail

As kids, we discarded friendships at the drop of a hat. One moment we were best friends and the next – sworn enemies for life. But, we also forgave more easily and had an abundance of time to play, bond, and build new friendships.

As adults, it can be challenging to find and maintain true friendships. Having lost friends in the past, I sometimes find myself being guarded around new friends. Like in dating, it can be tempting to play it safe and not invest enough time to let the friendship flourish.

But, with the right perspective, we can make developing our friendships more effortless. It’s important to realize that not all friends are meant to stick around forever. Research shows that most friendships come with a seven-year expiration date. People evolve and life circumstances change. It’s OK to let go of friendships that no longer serve us to make room for new connections.

So, what causes true friendships to fall apart?

It could be a lack of communication, diversity of interests, or personal conflicts. Friendships require an investment of time and energy. And, it’s easy to neglect them and cause them to slowly wither away.

Power Tips For Maintaining True Friendships

Luckily, all of the factors above are under your control. So, here are 5 proven ways to build lasting connections with friends.

1. Be Available For Your Friends In Times Of Need

Our emotions fluctuate according to the highs and lows of our lives. When we go through hard times, the emotional support of friends can make us feel more hopeful and less alone. Going through hardships together can also bring us closer together. So, use the following suggestions to support your friends in their times of need.

  • Just show up. Your friends may not know how to ask for help. But by showing up, you can ease their burden and create space to give them support. 
  • Do thoughtful things. If your friends are going through a rough patch, hanging out and socializing may not be top of mind. But, you can show you care through thoughtful acts. You can give them small gifts or buy their favorite cup of coffee.
  • Check in often. Text or call now and then to make sure they’re OK.
  • Be non-judgmental. Sometimes friends just need to vent. So, listen to their point of view without judgment and validate their feelings.

Practicing these tips will let your friends know they matter. Remind them what they mean to you and that you are proud of them. Your support, especially during tough times, plays a huge role in maintaining friendships.

2. Communicate Well

Communication Expert Paul Sanders believes staying in touch with friends is about 80% of the work in maintaining friendships. Too big a number to disregard, wouldn’t you say? Here are some ways to improve communication in your friendships:

  • Listen genuinely. Don’t think of the next thing to say.
  • Don’t compare. When your friends share their problems, don’t immediately compare them to one of yours.
  • Don’t jump to a solution. If your friend is sharing a problem, give them empathy and validation. Only give a solution if they ask for one.
  • Be playful. Use banter to make things fun. But, have the awareness when jokes go too far and start causing conflicts.
  • Handle conflicts maturely. Don’t make assumptions and take responsibility for your words and actions. Communicate mindfully and avoid using guilt trips to win the argument.
  • Be respectful. Don’t force your worldview on your friends and learn to appreciate your differences.

Good communication and being present are essential building blocks for true friendships. So, put away your phone and give your friends the attention they deserve.

3. Make Time For Your Friends

As our lives progress, our responsibilities, priorities, and roles change. Time constraints can keep us from establishing real contact with our friends. Some find it hard to maintain friendships after marriage.  Others lose friendships to their careers. 

If you want your friendship to flourish and stand the test of time, make time for your friends. Take a few minutes out of your hectic schedule to keep in touch. Here are some easy ways to grow your friendships:

  • Work on shared goals together. Find common goals and share the journey. If you want to get fit, become gym buddies. It’s a great way to work on personal growth and give your friendship a boost.
  • Set up lunch dates. Take a break from your hectic day at work and meet your friend for a quick lunch or a cup of coffee.
  • Run errands together. Running errands can be monotonous and boring. But, you can use them as opportunities to spend quality time with your friends. It’ll help you get your work done faster, be it grocery shopping or cleaning up the backyard.

4. Be Supportive

We all have our motives for the decisions we make in life. You may not agree with your friends’ life choices but you can show up and support them all the same. So, be the anchor your friends can rely on while giving them the support they need to make a good call.

  • Be open-minded. Friendship is constantly evolving as are we. If your friend is embracing a new belief or habit, be supportive even if it’s not your cup of tea.
  • Share the good and the bad. While it’s important to support your friends in times of need, be sure to celebrate their successes. Sharing in the fun and laughter are what true friendships are really about.
  • Don’t be a critic. Hold back on the “I told you so” if their plan falls through. True friendships mean standing by each other in the face of mistakes and misfortunes.

5. Be Honest With Your Friends

Friendships built on lies, mistrust, and cynicism don’t last. Once trust is lost, there’s no turning back. Your friends can help you face your biggest fears and give valuable feedback to help you grow as a person. But maintaining healthy friendships depends on your honesty and transparency.

  • Know when to apologize. We all make mistakes. But what we do after defines our character. So admit when you’re wrong and take responsibility. Your friends will respect you more. 
  • Give honest feedback. It can be hard speaking the truth when it can hurt someone close. But, your friends rely on you to give them honest advice. So, be gentle but truthful. They’ll thank you in the long run.
  • Open yourself up. If you lead with vulnerability, you make it safe for your friends to open up as well.

Invest your time, attention, and affection in your friendships to see them grow. Be compassionate, realistic, honest, and supportive in all your communications. Put these tips into practice and you’ll build true friendships that last a lifetime.

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