Establishing fulfilling relationships can be rewarding and even add years to your life. They may require some effort to maintain, though.
Making friends is often easy during childhood. Friendship maintenance as an adult, on the other hand, may not be as effortless.
Juggling your personal, work, and social life and finding the free time that works for both you and a friend can be difficult. Lifestyle options, new relationships, and distance may also present a challenge.
What are some of the benefits of friendship?
But how do you maintain friendships while adulting? How can you be a caring friend? Here are a few mindful tips.
Being a good listener and communicator is an integral part of being a caring friend.
Humans tend to lean on each other for support, particularly in times of need. You may feel the need to reaffirm that you can count on others through the ups and downs of life.
This is why it’s a good idea to openly show you care and that you’re emotionally available.
But this isn’t only about listening, which is, of course, important. It may also require some action on your part.
You can support and lift someone by validating their feelings, reminding them of their accomplishments and positive qualities, and getting them to laugh and have a fun time when they need a break.
Being a good friend can help improve your and your friend’s mental and physical well-being.
Lifting up a friend will also show them that the friendship isn’t one-sided. There may be a time when you’re the one needing support, and your good friend will be there to return the favor.
It may take about 200 hours of spending time together before you consider someone a close friend.
While it may be evident that spending time fosters closeness, it can be challenging to find time to socialize, especially between long-distance friends.
One way to maintain friendships is staying in touch, even if virtually.
Checking in with friends on their birthdays or special occasions is a thoughtful way to show them you’re thinking of them.
You can also help by remembering the small details they mentioned, such as a vacation they had planned or a scheduled job interview.
By following up with them, you show that you want to stay up-to-date on the important details of their lives, and they will feel eager to share and stay in touch with you.
It’s usual to rely on them when you’re going through a rough patch. Maybe you call them up and vent, or perhaps you ask them for help.
But it could be a good idea to check if you’re also present when you don’t need anything from them. How are you there for them?
There are many ways to cultivate a connection beyond getting a cup of coffee together or spending time often.
It may be helpful to remember that quality trumps quantity. Consider finding unique ways to stay present. And if you can’t, then try to be there emotionally when they need it the most.
Practicing gratitude is a form of mindfulness, and it can improve your mood, self-esteem, and empathy. This extends to deepening friendships as well.
It feels good to be appreciated and show appreciation for others.
When a friend displays kindness and thoughtfulness, try to express your gratitude for their efforts. This reassures them that you notice their contributions to the friendship. It can also boost their feelings toward the bond.
You may not even need to wait for them to do something in particular. Consider random acts of gratitude that let them know how much you care and value their presence in your life.
These actions could include:
- a quick text
- a mailed postcard
- having their favorite meal delivered
- checking in on how they feel from time to time
Friends often share and keep each other’s secrets, establishing trust in the relationship. Honesty is an essential part of any lasting and meaningful friendship.
When someone opens up and shares their thoughts or feelings, a caring friend responds with interest and honesty.
Consider watching your reactions. You may not have to agree with everything they do or say, but it’s important to try to be nonjudgmental and compassionate. Judging them could weaken the relationship.
Practicing empathy and compassion is also key to your friend feeling supported and valued.
In any relationship, conflicts are bound to arise. Friends are individuals with their own lives, thoughts, feelings, and opinions.
You may disagree on an issue or situation from time to time that results in a conflict. Or, there may be an imbalance stemming from you putting in more effort than your friend, for example.
Though it’s difficult and often uncomfortable, resolving conflicts is vital for salvaging friendships.
Disagreements or friendships that are one-sided are sometimes enough to sever the relationship altogether if left unresolved.
Taking the first step and communicating that you wish to resolve the conflict and offer potential solutions can signal that you value and want to restore the relationship.
Remember that friendship maintenance is an act of love and sometimes requires stepping in uncomfortable situations.
Not only are we all unique individuals, but time will also move us in different directions.
It’s natural to feel frustrated or surprised when you and your friend stand on opposite sides of the spectrum on an issue or belief.
Maybe you’ve always had these differences, or maybe one of you is going through a life transition.
When the distance becomes apparent, it may be a good time to reaffirm why you became friends in the first place. Where can you still meet each other? Try to focus on those things that bring you closer and you can still share.
It may also help to stay open and receptive. Change isn’t necessarily bad. You may now have much more to learn from each other than you did a while back.
Friendship benefits include feeling loved, supported, and part of a community. But as an adult, it may become difficult to maintain meaningful and lasting connections.
Consider being active in your relationships by reaching out, showing appreciation, and being emotionally available. This may require effort and work, but the rewards are worth it.