Romantic relationships will often reach a breaking point when they’re neglected. This then acts as the catalyst we need to spring into action. Friendship breakdowns are ‘quieter’. Less dramatic. They are much more likely to simply drift away, sometimes before we’ve even noticed there is anything wrong.
So what can we do to show our friends that we value them? Here are some of our tips.
Put them first from time to timeWe get it. Life is busy. There are many pulls on your time and you often feel like you're not giving your best to everyone. Your real friends will see this and understand your predicament. This makes them value any time you spend with them so much more. However a true friend deserves to have your full attention every now and again. You don’t have to mention what you've sacrificed to see them – they will know – and just an odd half hour here and there will be enough to keep the friendship fire burning, so long as they know they have your full attention.
Take the time to talkWe live in a digital age, when most of our friendships are conducted online. They’re superficial. We're more likely to post photos online of the food we're eating, than physically speak to the people we're dining with. The time we get to spend with friends may be less, but let’s commit to making sure any time we do spend together is quality time. Put down the devices and talk to each other face to face, rather than via a screen. You’ll be surprised at how little effort it takes to scratch beneath the surface of what you see on social media and re-engage with your closest friends.
Keep things personalFriendships are not about the big gestures. And when it comes to tokens of appreciation for friends, it always pays to keep things personal. This article from The Independent does a good job of summarising the small things we can do to connect with those we’re closest to. Personal cards and small gifts from time to time demonstrate the value you place on your friendship and help to reinforce the friendship bond you share.
Believe in your friends, when they need you mostThe strongest friendships are the ones that weather the storms together. Be the kind of friend that you want to have yourself. One that encourages, bolsters and nudges their friend forwards – not the fair weather friends who are there to celebrate with us, but nowhere to be seen when there’s some commiserating to be done. As our lives pull us in different directions, keep your interactions with your friends positive – and make sure you’re there for them when no one else is.
Give but don’t expect to receiveOne of the traps that we fall into with platonic friendships is the need for reciprocation. We keep a mental tally of the things we do for other people and - often subconsciously - follow the rule that if we’re do something for one of our friends, that they will be required to do something equally great for us at some point in the future. This causes resentment and disharmony. How about we start doing things for friends just because we want to make them happy?
Don’t forget, as this article from Psychology Today says, friendships are born out of a desire to spend time with another person that we like. We get pleasure out of their company. If maintaining some of your friendships becomes a chore or a duty, rather than something you cherish, then it’s really time to ask yourself how committed you are to this friendship in the first place.