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How To Foster Strong Friendships

Wong Shu Lee  


  July 30, 2022

July 30 is the United Nations International Day of Friendship. 


Friends come in all shapes and sizes. They may be someone we met as a child, a classmate at school, someone we met at work, or through other friends. They may be friends who live at a distance in another country or virtual friends we've made online. Regardless of who they are or how we met them, there is a special connection based on a shared history and interests, enjoying doing things together or simply talking and understanding each other. 


Friendships have a significant impact on your mental health and happiness. Good friends relieve stress, provide comfort and joy, and prevent loneliness and isolation. Developing close friendships can also have a powerful impact on your physical health. Lack of social connection may pose as much risk as smoking, drinking too much, or leading a sedentary lifestyle. Friends are even tied to longevity. 


However, close friendships don’t just happen. Many of us struggle to meet people and develop quality connections. Below are some tips to help you foster stronger friendships. 


Spend Quality Time Together


Of course it’s nice to have those friendships that don’t require a lot of time or upkeep. That being said, however, strong relationships do require staying in touch and spending meaningful time together. So, at the very least, check in with your friend when you can: agree on weekly phone dates; text them here and there to let them know you’re thinking of them; and if possible, schedule some time to simply hang out!


Be an Open Book


Another key to strengthening your friendships is being open and honest with your friends. You need to be able to express how you feel—even those negative feelings like disappointment and discomfort—so as to keep that bond from weakening. If you keep those feelings bottled up, you’re likely to foster some ill will towards your friends, and your relationships will suffer. So instead of brushing how you feel under the rug, confront your emotions openly. Then, you can work out the issue together.


Be Caring


If you hope to create strong, lasting friendships, you should continue to show your friend that you care about them. This doesn’t require you take drastic measures, but simply find ways to express your love and appreciation for the other person: treat them to pizza on their birthday; tag them in cheesy memes on Facebook; and bluntly tell them that your friendship means the world to you. You might assume that they already know you care for them, but even if they do, it’s always nice to be reminded.


Embark on New Experiences Together


An essential ingredient to a strong relationship is having fun with the person. Relationships are strengthened by meaningful experiences and unforgettable memories. So make the effort to spice up your friendships by embarking on new adventures side-by-side: sign up for an intimidating exercise or cooking class together; plan a trip to a new town or even new country; or simply switch up your typical weekend outings. This variation will revive your friendships and create an even stronger bond.


Provide Support and Encouragement


Friendships aren’t all fun and games—they do require you put in some work, such as when your friend is having a horrible, no-good day. Say they’ve just broken up with their boyfriend or girlfriend or were fired from their job. It’s your job to be there for them and provide them with whatever they need, starting with support and comfort. Additionally, it’s your duty to give them encouragement as needed. Encourage them to do what you know will make them happy, like taking that job or moving to a new city. Whatever the case, make it apparent that you’re rooting for them.


Treasure the Little Things


Real, strong friendships aren’t extravagant—they’re built simply on connectedness, kindness, and love for each other. That being said, it’s important you remember to embrace and rejoice in the little things. Appreciate and enjoy every second you get to spend with them, even if you’re simply meeting for coffee. Treasure every little piece of your friendship—the extraordinary love, the undying support, and the irreplaceable memories. 


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