They’ve stood by you through thick and thin, and you know you can always depend on them. Friends — they’re a vital part of our lives, and we rely on them for emotional support, social stability, and as a link back to our own humanity.
That’s why it’s important to value your friends, and avoid taking them for granted. They’re a critical part of our existence, but it’s often not until we lose them that we realize just how critical their role was in our lives. Here are 12 ways to show your friends that you care about them and build a stronger relationship in the process.
Set aside time for friendships. Nothing is more damaging to a relationship than neglect. Clear your calendar to regularly spend some quality one-on-one time with your friend.
Stand by your friend in times of hardship as well as plenty. The true test of a friendship is sticking by your friend when they’re in their time of need. You know they’d do the same for you, and your relationship will come out so much stronger as a result.
Always be available. Whenever your friend needs you there, be there. This doesn’t necessarily mean just in times of dire straits — it could simply involve being around them, in comfortable silence, or going over to watch a movie with them.
Evolve a comfortable silence. True friendship is one in which both people can be comfortable in silence. Work on spending time with your buddy and developing your relationship to the point where it’s no longer awkward to sit with them in silence.
Make an effort to listen. Often, friendships can be derailed by one friend talking more than the other. This makes the quieter one feel neglected, and they’ll eventually come to resent your time together. Make a real effort to ask your friends about their lives and just listen without interrupting — you’ll get your turn to talk eventually!
Try to maintain a light, positive vibe. Few things are more annoying or mood-killing than a friend who is always down in the dumps or moaning about this or that. Emotions are infectious, so do your friend a favor by trying to maintain a positive outlook and sunny disposition — they’ll be far more likely to want to spend time with you than if you’re always moping about.
Be honest, when the time is right. Okay, it may not be the best idea to be completely honest all the time — the odd white lie here and there doesn’t hurt and can often help to bolster spirits and boost wounded egos. But being a good friend means being honest when it really counts — if your friend needs to hear the truth, don’t shy away from it, no matter how hard it might be to tell.
Be quick to offer help and guidance, even if they don’t ask for it. Friendship is about giving something back to your buddy — help them out when they ask for it, and know them well enough to learn when they need your help even without asking. They’ll be eternally grateful for your support.
Become an expert in cheering your friend up. A true friend knows when and how to cheer up their buddy. Learn to read the signs of when your friend is upset or anxious, and also know what they really cherish and what boosts their spirits. It could be watching a sappy rom com, or sitting around talking and eating ice cream, or simply taking a walk through nature.
Try to avoid judging your friend. Your friend needs someone who supports them and doesn’t judge what they do, what they wear or how they act — within reason, of course. It’s your job to be supportive and back them up when they need it. You’re their ally, so try to refrain from letting it show if you don’t necessarily agree with aspects about them that don’t really matter.
If you move forward in life, make sure you don’t leave them behind. Some people have a tendency to only relate to those friends who are in the same social situation or financial bracket as them. If you receive a promotion, make other friends, or find yourself financially superior to your friend, make sure it doesn’t change anything between you. A good friendship should transcend social or financial factors, and should be built on character and shared interests rather than status.
Be who you are around your friend, not your notion of who they think you should be. It’s sounds a little confusing, but it’s really not — many of us try to act how we think others want us to be, and this goes against everything a good friendship is built on. Be yourself around your friend, and if you find that they don’t like you as much because of it, you probably weren’t meant to be friends in the first place.
Make these points a priority and your friendship will flourish. However, the key to really being a true friend is to also be your own best friend. Here’s how.
Liivi is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and is training to become a doula. She inspires women to find peace and personal power by taking control of health and fertility naturally. Liivi‘s passion is ancestral nutrition and primal lifestyle design. She and her partner Will live between Toronto, Canada and Queenstown, New Zealand.