A good friendship nourishes your need for human interaction. When you have a circle of close friends as well as acquaintances with whom you can share good times and bad, laugh and just hang out together, you feel connected to others. Having friends helps people to be happy as well as get through tough times. Once you’ve met someone and become friends with her, you need to participate in give-and-take to keep the friendship going. Like all relationships, friendships take effort.
Go Easy on your Friends
Life happens. Flat tires, sick children and lost keys happen to your friends just as they do to you. When you’ve made plans to do Saturday lunch with your best friend and you show up, then end up waiting for 30 minutes, don’t assume you’ve been stood up on purpose. Call your friend. Be willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, just as you'd like her to do for you. When you're willing to go easy on each other, you both realize that circumstances don't matter as much as the relationship. If your friend consistently flakes out on plans or commitments, thought, think about whether it's worth maintaining this friendship.
Give Each Other Space
Once you have a good friendship going, find a happy balance that allows the two of you to spend time together as well as with other people. You've probably heard the stories of friends who became "stalker friends," ruining their relationships. It isn’t necessary to call your friend five times a day and get together every day to do something, but do keep her in the loop and make plans to see each other every few days. Give her time to be with her family and with other friends, too. Some people enjoy solitary time as well.
If you offered to help your school friend with a yard sale, remember to show up. Nothing says “quality friend” like someone who is reliable and dependable. Conversely, the person who consistently flakes out on obligations and promises will soon find that her friends don’t call her for get-togethers or to help out with something in their lives. If you tend to forget your obligations, write them down in your planner or wall calendar or log it into your smartphone.
Be a Good Friend
You’ve probably heard the sayings, “To have a friend, be a friend,” or “Treat others as you would want to be treated.” It’s true. This is where the give-and-take of a true friendship comes into play. Treat your good friends like the treasures they are. Act with thoughtfulness toward them. When they are experiencing difficult situations, offer to help; if they don’t want help, let them know you have a shoulder to cry on, should they need one.
Let Your Friends Know You Think of Them
When you see something that reminds you of a close friend, make a quick note of that. The next time you see your friend or even when you’re communicating online, tell her, “I saw the most beautiful scarf at the store today that reminded me of you!” When you hear some good news, contact your friend and congratulate her. She’ll appreciate your effort. Friendships are connections between people, so letting your friends know when something reminds you of them helps you strengthen that connection.
Put Effort Into Your Friendships
When you put effort into your relationships, they blossom. Just like putting small deposits into your savings account, your “friendship balance” will grow when you take the time to do fun things with your friends. If life gets in the way, don’t retreat from your friendships, or you’ll find them growing stagnant. Stay in contact even once a week so that, should something happen to a friend, you can offer support or encouragement.
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Genevieve Van Wyden began writing in 2007. She has written for “Tu Revista Latina” and owns three blogs. She has worked as a CPS social worker, gaining experience in the mental-health system. Van Wyden earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from New Mexico State University in 2006.
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