It's easy to take close relationships for granted. Doing so, however, can weaken the bonds of friendship. Like a marriage, having a strong relationship with your best friend requires a commitment of your time and energy. Be intentional about being the best friend you can be, and you'll both reap the benefits.
Actress and singer Marlene Dietrich once said, “It's the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter." Having a best friend isn't much use if you can't get in contact with her after your boyfriend has just announced that he's running away to Morocco with his new lover. Make yourself available to your friend by making sure she can contact you when she needs you. Set a special ring tone just for her, so that if the phone rings in the middle of the night, you can answer it instead of ignoring it and going back to sleep. Let her know that she is welcome to have coffee with you at your home without needing to plan two weeks in advance.
In his book "The Friendship Factor: How to Get Closer to the People You Care For," psychotherapist Alan Loy McGinnis states that some of the best advice he's ever received is that to be "interesting, be interested." Simply being a good listener can help to strengthen any relationship. As a best friend, your ability to actively listen to your buddy is one of the most important qualities you can have. Whether he is sharing the innermost secrets of his heart or talking about the weather, listening to him will help to increase the level of intimacy in your relationship.
Being liberal with praise and affirmation can positively influence your friend's self-concept, notes McGinnis. Not only are you being a better friend when you help your friend to see herself in a positive light, but you are helping her to experience personal growth. Treat your friend as though she is the person you wish her to be, rather than focusing on any negative traits she might have, such as her tendency to be 10 minutes late to every activity you plan together.
Be helpful to your friend, advises Trent Hamm, creator of the practical website "The Simple Dollar." If you know he is getting ready for a big move, don't wait for him to ask you if you'll lend a hand -- and your truck. Step up to the plate and ask him what time he'd like you to be there. Helping your friend needn't only consist of brute muscle, though. If you spy an article that might help her figure out how to finally bake that perfect loaf of bread, forward it to her. Or stop by with dinner on a night you know she's had to work late.
- The Simple Dollar: Some Thoughts on Building a Successful Friendship
- "The Friendship Factor -- How to Get Closer to the People You Care For"; Alan Loy McGinnis
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