For many of us, most of our childhood friends were the kids we went to school with and saw every day. But as adults, we don’t have that same luxury of seeing our friends that often, and keeping up friendships can be really hard! Healthy relationships are so important, so we’ve put together four tips on how to be a good friend, no matter how seldom you get to see your closest buddies.
Be Genuinely Interested in Them
Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” Next time you’re speaking with a friend, pay attention to see how often you’re just waiting for your turn to talk rather than really listening to them.
And when your friends tell you good news, be genuinely happy for them! Listening and being happy for your friends’ successes help to build a solid relationship based on mutual appreciation.
Make a Point to Work through Conflict
Isn’t it funny that the people we care most about are often the people with whom we have the worst conflicts? Don’t panic when you get into a tiff with a friend; it’s a normal part of any close relationship, and there are things you can do to solve it. Here are a couple of conflict resolution tips:
- Don’t blame or accuse your friend.
- Focus on the conflict, not your anger.
- Explore the contributing issues.
- Accept that your friend’s perspective is different—not wrong.
- Be ready to apologize and forgive.
Vocalize Your Feelings
Being honest and vulnerable can be difficult, but it’s a crucial part of strong friendships. When you are going through something difficult, reach out to your close friends and tell them how you’re feeling. Ask if they would be willing to share how they got through a similar difficult time. Talking about the stuff that really matters helps you rely on each other and even have more fun during lighter conversations.
Understand and Respect Boundaries
“Setting clear personal boundaries is the key to ensuring relationships are mutually respectful, supportive and caring,” says Jane Collingwood at Psych Central. “Boundaries are a measure of self-esteem. They set the limits for acceptable behavior from those around you, determining whether they feel able to put you down, make fun, or take advantage of your good nature.”
We talked about how speaking with your friends about your feelings is a great part of friendship, but be careful not to rely on each other too much. You’re not each others’ therapist, Uber driver, or interior designer. If a friend is volunteering to help you, be sure to check in with them and make sure they aren’t burned out. And speak up if you feel your boundaries are being overstepped. When your friendship has good boundaries, you’re both able to feel more respected and comfortable around each other.
It can be hard to keep up friendships when you and your pals don’t get to see each other very often. To keep your friendships strong, be genuinely interested in them, work through conflict, share your feelings, and respect boundaries. Try implementing one of these tips today to make your important friendships even better!