If you’re looking to make some deeper friendships, these steps can help.
We’re in a time when we’re more connected than ever before via social media, but at the same time, true connection is hard to find. Many of us move away from our childhood friends and don’t have time in our busy schedules to re-establish lasting friendships. And while it may sometimes seem trying when you’re super tired to make the effort, in the end, it’s these nurtured relationships that contribute to our happiness. Here’s how to make them last.
1. Spend one-on-one time together.
The best way to establish a friendship with deeper meaning is to spend some one-on-one time together. While spending time in a group is great, to really get to know someone you have to be able to interact alone. Additionally, some people act very differently in group settings than they do alone. Try and set up non-group activities that aren’t organized in which you can have a good conversation. This way your comfort level with your new friend increases, and as it does, you’ll want to spend more and more time together.
2. Reach out randomly.
Calling, texting, or emailing your new friend between outings is also a great way to connect. Casual friends tend to connect only when they’re planning to see each other while closer friends talk the whole week long. While initially, it might not seem like it’s worth the extra effort, once you get past the beginning hurdles, you’ll be thankful. Ask simple questions via text or call them if you have some extra time in commute. It doesn’t matter what you do, it just matters that you find the time.
3. Be a good friend.
This shouldn’t even need to be said. But if you want to be trusted, you have to be trustworthy. Do all the things that make you a good friend, including not gossiping about him or her to others, being dependable, going out of your way, and keeping your mouth shut if you’re told something in confidence. Additionally, if you gossip to your new friend about someone else, they’re likely to fear you’d do the same thing to them. Be a generally good person and you’ll get the same in return in most cases.
4. Open up.
No one likes a friend that seems too perfect because it seems they’re unwilling to open up. You don’t have to spill everything about yourself the first time you meet someone, but at the same time, don’t be such a closed door that it’s difficult to relax. The entire point of friends is to hold you up when you’re feeling down and be a shoulder to cry on in those times of need. Be yourself. It makes people feel at ease.
5. Be positive.
As I mentioned above, it’s important to be honest about who you are and what you’re going through at any point, but at the same time, don’t be a downer. Be a positive, inspiring force. It makes people want to be around you. Do your best not to establish friendships that are based on complaining because friendships based in negativity don’t end up being any fun at all.
6. Get out of your normal routine.
Sometimes it can be helpful to really get to know someone when you’re not in your normal routine. For example, room together at a yoga retreat or take a road trip together somewhere a few hours away from home. Both of these activities show you a person out of their normal element, not dealing with his or her normal responsibilities. Additionally, activities like riding in a car together provide lots of opportunities for good conversation.
7. Sometimes it takes time.
Sometimes you can tell immediately that you’re going to be best friends with someone and other times it takes a while for that relationship to blossom. Whether it’s because you don’t initially see what you have in common or because someone isn’t as quick to open up. In fact, more than a few times in my life I’ve hit it off with someone at lightning speed but ended up being better friends with the quieter friend in the group. Don’t discount the introverts, they too can have a lot to offer.
8. Be honest about your friendships.
Take an honest look at your friendships and decide whether they’re true friendships or just superficial. And from there, decide with which friends you really want to deepen your relationship. Which friendships really have room to grow and which don’t? Here’s the deal: Just because you have a superficial relationship doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy a friend’s company, but it does mean you’re unlikely to go much deeper. For whatever reason, it’s two dimensional. Nurture the relationships that have potential and don’t waste too much energy on those that don’t.
9. Be there in times of need.
True friends show up when it’s hard. If you want to fall into that category you have to do the work. Friends who are there during divorces, sickness, depression, etc. are the ones you’ll always remember for their contributions. Relationships are about giving and taking and if you want someone to truly care and love you, it’s important to take the time to do the same for them. Be there when it’s difficult, awkward, and sometimes unpleasant. It’s the mark of a good friend and a generally good person.
There’s nothing worse than someone who doesn’t know how to listen. Whether they’re constantly talking over you or planning what they’re going to say next while you’re talking, you have to learn both how to talk AND how to listen. Listening can almost be like a meditative activity if you’re really engaged. Think about not just what a person is saying but what they mean. Hear them out before you respond.
Why do you love your best friends? What do you have in common? We want to know. Drop us a line via Twitter @EcoSalon.
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