Strong, lasting friendships require maintenance. People grow and change over time, and relationships experience ups and downs. The more energy you put into your friendship, the deeper it will become and the greater chance it will have to survive into the future. Maintaining a friendship involves consistent effort. Strategies like frequent chats and balanced conversations can help build a solid, quality friendship that will withstand the test of time.
Frequent communication is the key to any healthy relationship. No matter how busy your schedule seems, make time to chat with your friends regularly. Even if you have only a few minutes between plans or while you are driving in the car, pick up the phone and say hello. "Don't let a lot of time slip by without connecting," advises Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D. in the PsychCentral article "The Care and Maintenance of Friendship." Talking to a friend routinely helps keep the friendship current.
Not all friends have opportunities to get together in person, especially if distance is a factor. But try to see your friends face to face when possible, even if it's sometimes inconvenient. This will show your commitment. Talking on the phone or through the Internet is important, but it can't compare to being in the physical presence of your friend. If your friend lives close by, meet up weekly or monthly. This will ensure that you see each other consistently to catch up. "Both people must commit to nurturing the relationship and keeping each other accountable to it," explains Ron Culberson, MSW, CSP, in the Huffington Post article "4 Keys to Developing and Maintaining Friendships."
Balance Your Conversations
When you chat with your friend, create balance in the conversation. Share what is happening in your life without focusing the entire conversation on you. Ask questions. Seek your friend's opinions, ideas and suggestions. Find out what is new in her life or what she might need your advice on. Show your interest by asking about her family, work or hobbies. If your friend shares an accomplishment, be proud. Congratulate her. Hartwell-Walker explains that good friends celebrate each other's achievements without feeling jealous or diminished in comparison.
Friendships that last are built on trust, and trust comes from honesty. Being open and expressing your true feelings are essential. Superficial friendships fade over time, explains Lisa Firestone, Ph.D. in the Psychology Today article "Five Tips for Maintaining Lifelong Friends." If you're upset with your friend, talk about it. If you are embarrassed about something you did, share it. If you feel guilty, apologize. Deal with conflict head on. When you are grateful for your friend's support, tell him. Let him know you appreciate him. Friendships have a future when both people feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings.
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