Today I would consider myself a pretty good friend to the people in my circle, but I’ll admit this wasn’t always the case. In junior high school I lost my very best friend after ditching her at a party to go off with my boyfriend—epic friendship fail! In college, I put a serious strain on a good friendship that eventually disapated when I neglected to show up for the birth of his child. Being gravely naïve at the time, I had no idea how monumental that event was– I couldn’t imagine doing that to a friend now.
Then there was that time after college when I lost contact with two of my most beloved friends. Nothing happened, we didn’t fall-out, no-one slept with the other’s man—I just isolated myself because of my own insecurities. I missed them terribly, but I needed time to grow.
Today, I value my solid friendships and treasure them like jewels, but it took those situations and the hurt they caused to get me to the place I’m at now. My hope is that if you are stuggling in a friendship and don’t know why, if you’re missing a friend and want to reach out, or, if you have a dear friendship you want to maintain, the suggestions listed below can help.
- Keep in contact—and not just through social media. Most of my closest friends live far away, but we keep n touch via phone, group texts, and sometimes Skype. It’s how we stay in the loop of what’s going on in everyone’s lives when we can’t physically be there.
- Make Time—Don’t flake out on lunch or dinner dates, and plan occasions just for the girls. I can attest that whenever my friends and I do this, without fail, we always savor the time!
- Remember special days—Keep track of the birthdays, anniversaries, or other significant days of your very close friends. Getting a message from your best friend on your birthday often means more than 20 messages from everyone else.
- Give Your friend her space—This can be an issue for those who have been friends since very young, but are now navigating friendship as adults. It’s unfair to expect that friend who used to be your weekend party partner to be the same now that she’s married with kids. In the same vein, whereas you could go over her house anytime when she was single, it might be somewhat intrusive now that she has a man. Grow with the friendship and be open to change.
- Give as much as you take— Don’t just tell her your problems, take time to ask about hers. Repay her gestures of kindness with those of your own; show up for her the way she shows up for you!
- Keep Her Secrets—whether big or small, she’s entrusted you—reward her by keeping her confidences safe!
- Be there when it matters—we can’t always be there in every situation—we should try to be there when it matters most. For events like weddings, graduations, and significant milestones, good friends should make the extra effort to attend.
- Don’t take things too personally—there are times when our friends are going through things that causes them to be distant, unusually angry, distracted, or sad. In those instances it helps to be more understanding and not make their pain about you.
- Overlook flaws—we all have things about us that are awesome, as well as things that aren’t so great. The more you’re able to accept the imperfections in your friends, the more they’ll accept them in you!
- Learn to Forgive—You’re friends are going to hurt you, the same as you’ll probably hurt them. Except for things that are reprehensible (did she steal from you? Sleep with your man?) most affronts can easily be forgiven, and you in turn, can keep your friend.
If you have any tips on how to maintain great friendships, be sure to share them with us here.