Every single time I mention or discuss adult friendships online the response is huge. Making new friends and fostering the connections we already have is something so many of us are acutely aware of. Changing life circumstances and personal evolution means that people come and go, but keeping a handful of close pals is key for our health and happiness. Friends are chosen family. They provide love, laughter and a support network like no other, but you have to put in the work.
Now, I am not claiming to be some sort of friendship professional or the best friend you could ask for. I am far from it. However, I have some pretty wonderful humans in my life who I am so incredibly grateful for, and these are a few things I personally do to keep our friendships going strong.
One on one time.
It can be easy to always meet up in groups, especially if you have shared friends or your partners get on well. But one on one time is key if you want to foster a friendship. These scenarios are often when you can open up, be more vulnerable and have deeper conversations.
Making new memories with someone is an amazing way to deepen a friendship. Sure, meeting for a coffee is nice but is there something new you can do together? It doesn’t need to be huge but something as simple as trying a different walking route, exploring a new town or booking into a class is a great way to bond.
Be an initiator.
Personally, this is a big one. Don’t be afraid to be the one to initiate plans. There can be a lot of faffing around when organising a meetup, so get straight to the point and ask for dates, times and availability. Reply promptly and respect your friends schedule (especially if they have kids). They will appreciate you being proactive.
Consistency over frequency.
You don’t need to see your friends all the time to have a deep connection, but you do need to see them consistently. Even if that is just twice a year. Schedule in friend dates, find an activity you enjoy doing together and make it your thing.
Have a balanced dialogue.
If you’re having a tough time it can be easy to offload when you’re with your friends, and that is perfectly ok – that is what they’re here for! However, it is equally as important to listen. Genuinely listen. It takes two to tango, so ensure you’re asking your friend about their life and meeting their needs too. The support a friendship provides goes both ways.
It doesn’t always have to be big, just let your friend know you’re thinking of them. Send them book recommendations, podcast episodes they might like or photos they may find funny. Not every exchange needs to result in a big conversation.
Show up for milestones.
We are all busy, I get it. But do your very best to show up for the big stuff. The birthdays, the engagement parties, the job promotions. Be there, as you would want them to be there for you. It will mean a lot. And whatever you do, try not to flake.
Nip issues in the bud.
If something arises, have a conversation as soon as possible and communicate your needs. Allowing a problem to fester only builds resentment and means you’re going to have a bigger confrontation down the line. Solving it straight away will be less stressful for everyone.
Accept your friend as they are, an imperfect human being (just like you!). Don’t put too much pressure on them to tick every box. Of course, don’t tolerate poor treatment but also don’t expect them to fulfil your every need. That is why we have multiple friends and connections in our lives.
You might ask, why should I put so much effort into my friendships? As I said, friends are chosen family. If anything went wrong at work, at home or with your partner – your friends are who you would fall back on. Keep them at the top of your priority list and not only will you have people to laugh and create memories with, you will be rewarded with an incredible support system. Something we all need as fallible human beings.