You can develop stronger friendships with the friends you already have, and make new ones by doing just a few simple things. Friendships can be incredibly rewarding and lasting, but we often take our friends and the things we love about them for granted. This can result in friendships that feel one-sided or like they’re missing something. It may seem like your only option is to move on and find better friends who will appreciate you more, but that’s not true at all!
Do you sometimes feel like your friends are fair-weather friends or more like acquaintances? Perhaps they don't realize that you desire a closer relationship. To have a true friend, you have to be one yourself.
Here are some ways to develop stronger friendships so you can appreciate your friends more and have them appreciate you as well.
The Importance of Friendship
A great friendship is a blessing and most of us want one—but why? A solid friend can be invaluable in life, providing emotional support during hard times and celebrating with you when things are going well. It also doesn’t hurt that friends often become lifelong confidants and mentors. But there’s more to it than that. Studies show that true friendships help us live longer and even healthier lives.
Developing these characteristics will help you strengthen your friendships
Develop the art of listening well
Though it seems obvious, being a good listener is one of the most important parts of friendship. When you're listening to a friend, show that you're interested in what he or she has to say. In other words, put down your phone, and don't be afraid to acknowledge what is being said. You can also ask questions as a way of showing interest.
Sometimes, just listening attentively to your friends will make them feel better about the challenges they're facing. To listen well is to imbibe what is being said without thinking of what you're going to say in response.
Perhaps when you listen, you're even thinking of how you're going to offload your own troubles onto your friend after they stop talking about theirs.
That may be the last thing your friend needs. Listening well means refraining from interrupting your friends and giving them your full attention.
Honesty is essential in close friendships
Many people are dishonest in their relationships. They don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings or they are afraid that their friends will judge them. It is important to realize that it takes courage and strength of character to be honest with your friends, family, and acquaintances. When you can accept criticism for what it is (constructive criticism) instead of taking it personally, then you can grow as a person and strengthen your friendships.
True friendship isn't dependent on your saying “yes” all the time and overlooking your friend's faults. Of course, while you're tolerant of their idiosyncrasies, you'll also want to support your friends in their personal development.
For instance, if you feel a friend drinks or smokes too much, you can tell him so. Offer some words of wisdom. Most of all set a good example.
Love can be both tough and gentle in its attempt to further the welfare of a friend. If your motives are pure, your friends will always be grateful, even if they initially seem to resist your efforts.
Loyalty is one of the hallmarks of great friendships
Avoid gossiping about your friends and keep the secrets safe that were given to you in love and confidence. Trust is the basis of true friendships. Treat your friends like you'd want to be treated. Be honest with them and don't talk behind their backs. If a friend has done something offensive, approach them openly and directly. Remember: If someone can't take criticism well from a friend, that person probably won't last as a close friend for long anyway.
The best friendships are built on mutual support. Think about it—if all you did was talk about yourself, or complain constantly, would anyone want to hang out with you? Of course not. Be supportive of your friends and show interest in what’s going on in their lives. Make them feel special by listening intently when they need it most.
Good friendships take time but will pay off when you have someone who truly understands your struggles and encourages you when times get tough.
Help uplift them in their time of need. If your friend wants to achieve a worthy goal such as losing weight, giving up a bad habit, or taking up a new skill, offer them your whole-hearted support.
Tell them it's a good idea and go out of your way to provide them with the information or assistance they need.
For example, if your friends want to lose weight, you can help by not indulging when you're around them and tempting them. You could even join them in their exercise classes.
Know how and when to apologize
We all mess up from time to time, whether it’s a minor or major mishap.
Trying to prove that we are right is the root of much of the disharmony we see around us. Arguments can make us feel angry and resentful. Instead, just say what you have to say calmly and let it go. Letting go isn't the mark of weakness. It's a sign of greatness and humility.
But when you do apologize, follow through. Get past I’m sorry and come up with something tangible you can do to make amends. And move on.
Avoid taking advantage of your friends. If you call them only when you need help or if you keep asking them for impossible favors, you'll come across more as a pest than a friend.
Some people have a tendency to get others to do things for them that they would be better off doing themselves. Don't get into that habit. If you have a true friend, you shouldn't take advantage of their kindness by trying to get them to do something for you when they have other things to do.
To have a true friend, you have to be one yourself.
When friends do help you, ensure that the assistance they give you doesn't compromise them in any way. Show them respect and appreciation.
Watch your friendships blossom when you follow these strategies. Being a good friend is not only kind to those who have chosen to be in your life, but also will yield more satisfying friendships for you!