While keeping a friend can be easily summarized in a few basic tips to keep in the back of your mind, below you will see our top 10 list of tips to keep friends forever. Once you’ve met someone that you like or find a friendship growing, these helpful tips will be sure to keep the relationship between the two of you strong for years to come.
Small Get Together
Nothing keeps a friendship alive and well more than small get together between friends. If you have the time, why not invite your friend over for dinner a few times a month? You don’t have to cook anything fancy when they come, instead, just enjoy their company over a nice meal. Getting together for dinner may seem like a silly idea, but studies have shown that meals are often the most relaxing and honest time of the day for relationships; both platonic and romantic.
If dinner doesn’t sound like your thing, or if you have a friend that lives far away from you, like in another city, why not invite them over for a long weekend to stay with you? You can show them the area and your usual hangouts, and they’ll more than likely reciprocate the favor the next time both of you have some time off. With the world being so interconnected these days, it’s very easy to maintain friendships around the globe. While you may not be making it to Paris every other weekend to see some Parisian friends you made on vacation, if you have a close friend that lives within driving distance or a short plane trip’s distance, why not take the time off to spend the weekend together?
Don’t Expect Anything
One of the first mistakes that people make when going into a friendship is that they expect things to go a certain way or they expect one person to be a better friend than the other. If you’re just starting a friendship, try not to keep a mental record of how many ‘friendly’ things someone has done for the other, as you’ll probably just end up doing your own head in trying to figure out how you can best balance the friendship by keeping it evenly split. Friendship shouldn’t be a competition, nor should you try and keep up with a competition element if your new friends tries to instate something of the sort. Simply hang back and let the friendship take its course without trying to expect it to go anywhere.
Rethink Birthday Presents
If you have a friend that you truly care about, show them when their birthday or the next holiday rolls around. It’s very easy to run to the mall the day before a birthday and pick up a gift card or a new CD for a friend. However, neither of these gift ideas require much thought to get together. Instead, why don’t you take the time to get something that either takes some time to make or a lot of thought to purchase? If you know that your friend collects antique Coke bottles (that’s a really obscure example, but let’s just go with it), you could take the time to look on eBay for a few weeks to find one that he or she doesn’t already own. Either that, or you could make a piece of artwork or household object that they could put to good use if you don’t have the money to drop on an expensive gift. Taking the time to show your friend that you care about their interests is the greatest gift of all, and giving a worthwhile gift to your friend can help ensure that you stay friends for a long time to come.
It Doesn’t Always Have to Be Big
One thing that people often forget is how easy it is to show a friend that they care and that they’re still thinking about the other person. While you don’t have to rush out and buy a new watch or China set every few weeks, it is nice to send along small tokens of appreciation to show that you still care. This can be anything from a funny email that you received that you’d like to forward along to share the humor with your friend, or it could be a small present you send in the mail for them to get a few days later. All of the little things that you do along the way add up and are often remembered more than the big presents you spend money on.
Good friends share secrets with one another, and they expect that those secrets won’t be shared. As tempting as it may be to tell your spouse or other friends about something that’s going on in a person’s life, it takes a true friend to stay quiet about the whole situation. Building this type of trust can take years, but once a friend learns to trust you, be sure you don’t destroy it by doing something you may regret. Accidents happen, but deliberately untrustworthy acts can often end a friendship entirely. Don’t risk it!
Be OK With Yourself
Before you can successfully befriend someone else and keep their friendship for years to come, you must first be OK with who you are. If you’re not comfortable or happy with who you are as a person, maintaining a friendship can be even tougher. Take the time to figure out who it is you are and what it is you like before trying to tack on a friendship to your life. If you’re spending all of your time trying to reassure yourself that you’re worthwhile, you’ll never be able to expand your time into enjoying the company of another person. Get comfortable with yourself before trying to maintain a lifelong friendship.
Keep Them Motivated
Being a friend means that you’re supposed to be there for both the good and the bad times of another person’s life. Do your best to celebrate the accomplishments that your friends have and let them know that they have done a job well done. Take your friend out to dinner if they get a promotion or brag about their artwork to your other friends if you think that it’s great. Even though people may not be perfect, it’s always important to keep each other motivated and striving for the best even when we have days that we don’t feel as great as we’d like to.
One of the many reasons that people get friends is because they’d like to have someone to confide in and share their own life experiences with. When you’re with your friends, take the time to ask how they’re doing and find out about all of the different aspects in their life. The key to doing this though is that you need to actually be interested in what they have to say. Just like a romantic relationship, being a friend means actually caring about what the other person is feeling and how their life is going at the moment. If things aren’t going so well, be sure to let them know that everything is going to be OK. While it may be fun to joke around by rubbing it in your friends face if something bad and strange happened to them, at the end of it all they need to know that you’re still there for them if they want to talk seriously about it.
As an extension of that, you also need to know when it’s appropriate to show your condolences about a bad situation and when it’s best to simply listen and tell them that everything is going to be OK. While your friend probably won’t abandon you forever because of an inappropriate comment you make about a situation they’re in, many times people just want someone to be able to talk to and share their problems and feelings with without having to hear what the other person thinks. As friendships progress you’ll be better able to gauge when the appropriate time to chime in is and when it’s best to take a back seat approach and simply listen.
Don’t Lose Contact
The biggest problem with having friends scattered across the country or across the globe is that it makes it increasingly difficult to stay in touch. One of the pillars of a successful friendship is staying in touch with each other on a regular basis. You don’t want your phone calls to sound like a laundry list of updates, but instead you want to take the time to investigate what the other person is doing and show them that you genuinely care. It’s tough to do with how busy many of us are these days, but if you can take the time to at least send an instant message or text message to your close friends every few days, you can show them that you still care and are around.
I like to take the time once every two or three weeks to sit down and call my friends for a fuller conversation than normal. It’s often tough to get everything across in a few text messages, which is why I like the fuller update that happens over the phone. If I can’t get to the phone, I’ll send an email update to my close friends to let them know what I’ve been up to and to find out how they’ve all been.
Have More Than One Friend
Having only one real friend can put a big strain on any friendship. Because you may only have one person you talk to on a regular basis, and that person may have many friends, you could end up putting them in an uncomfortable position in terms of who they should be spending time with. If they feel like they’re your only friend, it may make them feel bad if they decide to spend time with their other friends instead of you.
Having more than one friend will also give you the time to explore new friendship territory and get you exposed to new experiences. If you only have one friend that you do everything with, you may not be completely satisfied with the things that you both get to do. Having many friends means you’ll get to spend time with not only them, but their friends as well, improving your social skills and helping you meet more people along the way who can help you with not only friendships, but also in terms of things like career advancement or unseen opportunities.
Some Don’ts of Friendship
Don’t Date Your Friend’s Ex’s
One of the big no-no’s in friendships is dating your friends old girlfriend or boyfriend. While there may be real chemistry between the two of you, you never know what types of feelings your friend or their ex still has. These feelings could cause tension between you and your friend if the relationship starts to get serious. If it’s a relationship you’d actually like to pursue, sit down with your friend and talk to them to see what they think about the idea. If they’re uncomfortable with it, don’t follow through.
As said earlier, secrets are something that you should hang onto and avoid sharing at all costs. More importantly, don’t gossip about how your friends are doing with other people. It’s not only bad taste, but the friend who you’re gossiping about may get upset that their personal life has been shared so openly. While it’s fun to poke fun at friends and have a good laugh sometimes, try not to take it too far so that it could end up hurting the friend you’re talking about.
Advice Not Unless Asked
As tempting as it may be to help your friend with their love life, if they haven’t explicitly asked for your help in the matter, try not to get involved. Invading someone else’s life to help them find the perfect match may not pan out the way you’d like, and the friend you’re helping may not even want help to begin with. If it ever becomes a topic of conversation and it’s something you’d like to aid with, then by all means inquire about their dating situation and see what you can do to help, but if they seem hesitant to open up to you about what’s going on with their love life, it’s generally a good idea not to force it.