It is rightly said by Woodrow Wilson that “friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” The time and the effort you put into your friendships will play a huge role in determining how long-lasting your relationship would be. Your friends know you inside out and still, they choose to love you anyway. You may have friends you’ve known for years or some that you may have recently met, and you’d like to develop a good relationship with. No matter what the situation is, there is always room for strengthening the bond and making sure that your friendships last.
So what does a healthy friendship look like and how do you maintain a friendship so that it lasts a lifetime? Here are a few research-based tips to help you improve your friendships:
Render support to each other
A friendship cannot be one-sided. It requires efforts from both parties to work out. There must be a presence of dedication and support for each other through words and actions. Make each other realise how much you care about them regularly and show them by supporting their dreams and aspirations.
Trust is the solid foundation of any relationship. A lot of times, you get to see and experience your friend’s vulnerable side and it’s your responsibility to ensure that your conversation remains 100% confidential, and he feels comfortable in the same. You could even let them know outwardly so that they’re able to feel comfortable sharing any kind of personal information with you.
Learn to forgive
All relationships have phases when there are periods of conflict, it happens in friendships too. Everybody has few flaws, and accepting each other's flaws is the key to a good friendship. There may be differences in opinions, decisions etc, that is why people argue. Sometimes you may not always be able to fulfil his or her expectations. When this happens in your friendships, understand that it does not make you or them a bad person. It’s just a conflict. A good way to handle conflict is to communicate and express how you feel. Try to figure out a way that would be respectful of both people’s feelings. Be mindful of the language you use while angry and focus on conflict solving.
Be a good listener
Listening to each other’s opinions is an integral part of friendships. One of the biggest gifts you can give to your friends is your attention. Make sure to listen to your friend’s opinions and provide a safe space for them, wherever they can talk about anything and can share their feelings. Listen to your friend very patiently, validate how they feel by telling them that you understand that they are having a hard time and you’re with them. Include techniques like paraphrasing, which means repeating whatever you have understood from what they have told you. You have to be mindful of whatever you hear, maintain eye contact and not be distracted, as they have a lot of expectations from you if they are telling you their life problems or major incidents.
Don’t give up on them
A lot of people, when going through phases, may withdraw from the world and even sometimes from the ones close to them. If your friend seems to be doing this, let them know that you are there for them, regardless of how they feel. Offer them relentless support and help them by encouraging them to engage in enjoyable activities. It can sometimes feel like you are imposing something on them but sometimes it is necessary to remind them that you are there for them irrespective of anything. You have to remind them that you are not afraid of their difficulties and pain as this can give them something to hold onto and move forward.
Gratitude and acknowledgements
Offering gratitude and acknowledgement would serve as a great way to share your heart and deepen your connections with everyone in your life. Use small and subtle messages here and there, like, “I appreciated it when you called to invite me to dinner. I love spending time with you and your family. I’m very grateful that our friendship is important to you, too,” as these messages have a greater emotional impact.
Good friends are crucial at every stage in life. A thing about friendship is that you may grow and change as an individual. But strong friendships will continue to strengthen you with time. Building strong friendships in your adulthood is essential to have a healthy social life with friends so that we can count on the people we want to be there for. Ensure that you’re keeping true to your friendships, even though there are changes in career, presence of family growth, moving, and so on.