You know that having great friendships is important to your well-being and can enhance your life in many ways. Friends can provide you with emotional support during tough times and transitions, help you celebrate your successes and accomplishments, challenge you to be your best self, help you build confidence, and make you feel less alone in the world. Most of us want to feel a sense of belonging, a connection to others, and that we can truly be ourselves.
But have you ever wondered what makes a great friendship? Most of the time, it’s not a grand gesture, an extravagant gift, saying the perfect thing all the time, or anything extreme. It’s more about being consistent and showing up in smaller ways. The little things that you
do to nurture your friendships is what ends up being more realistic and sustainable. These things will make a difference in the quality of your friendships.
So, whether you’re looking to make new friends, nurture a developing friendship, rekindle an old friendship, or strengthen an existing friendship, these following five tips will help your friendships flourish.
1. Be direct about what you need
When you become close friends with someone, you can sometimes begin to assume that they can read your mind and know exactly what you want, need, and expect. However, no one can read your mind no matter how well they know you. Even the most kind, caring, and attuned friend won’t always know what you need and it’s not their responsibility to know.
Be direct with your friends about what you need. This might sound like, “Thanks for asking but I’m not ready to talk about that yet” or “We haven’t seen each other in a long time and I would love to get together this weekend.” Being clear and precise allows you to communicate exactly what you need with little room for guessing or misinterpretation.
2. Give your friend the benefit of the doubt
When something is off between you and a friend, give your friend the benefit of the doubt. Become curious and ask your friend questions to clarify the situation instead of making assumptions or stories about them and what has happened. Trusting that your friend isn’t trying to purposely hurt you is an important part of a secure friendship. Being able to trust that your friend has your best interest in mind will make the friendship feel safe.
3. Make time together a priority
Friendships take time and care to grow and flourish. Setting intentional time to spend
together is a great way to improve a friendship and develop it into a deeper, more meaningful and fulfilling relationship. Choose a time during the week that makes sense for you to look at your calendar to see when you have windows of time to spend with your friends.
Reach out to your friend(s) and create a plan to spend time together, whether that’s having a meal, watching your favorite show, or talking on the phone. Keeping in touch with your friends regularly will keep you connected and provide you with opportunities to get to know each other better.
4. Open up to your friends about difficult things going on in your life
support you but they can also challenge you to look at something from a different perspective. It’s important to check with your friend to see if they are in a place in their own life where they are able to support you in the way that you need.
It might be difficult for you to open up to others about the more serious things going on in your life. However, being vulnerable and sharing the more intimate details of your life builds connection and trust. If you’re hesitant to do this, you can always start off with sharing something less serious to see how it feels for you and how your friend responds. Having a positive experience with this will give you the confidence you need to continue to share more with your friend.
5. Do little things that nurture your friendship consistently and frequently
There are many little things that you can do to nurture your friendships that seem small but usually end up meaning a lot to others. Remembering important dates, texting your friend when they pop into your mind randomly, sending words of encouragement when you know they’re going through something difficult, or recommending a show they might enjoy are different ways you can show up in your friendship consistently and frequently.
Being a great friend doesn’t mean that you have to be a perfect friend but your friendship does require consistent and frequent attention and intention to grow. Give these 5 tips a try and watch your friendships grow!
How We Can Help
Interested in learning more about connecting with your peers?
Check out our Relationship Process Group, which gives you a safe environment to practice opening up and nurturing friendships.
If you are looking for general support, or if you would like to talk to someone more about how we can help you, follow these simple steps:
Contact us today for a free 20-minute phone consultation
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Other Therapy Services Available at Catalyss Counseling:
Here at Catalyss Counseling, we want to meet all of your counseling needs in the Denver area. Our supportive therapists provide depression counseling, therapy for caregiver stress, grief and loss therapy, stress management counseling and more. We also have specialists in trauma and PTSD, women's issues, pregnancy and postpartum depression or anxiety, pregnancy loss and miscarriage, and birth trauma. For therapists, we can also provide clinical supervision! We look forward to connecting with you to help support your journey today.
Pansy Ayala is a licensed therapist with Catalyss Counseling and specializes in treating adults with anxiety, depression, grief and loss, and relationship issues. She uses a holistic, individualized approach to better understand who you are, what areas of your life you find problematic, and how you can reach your goals. She especially enjoys working with parents. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.