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March 9, 2018
3 mins read

How to maintain friendships—and grow new ones

You know a lot of people—and more than you think.

You’ve met new floormates and coworkers, or realized your study group is pretty cool outside of the classroom too. From your drop-in ultimate frisbee team, to, of course, the loyal BFFs that have seen you come out of the other side of puberty—you’re surrounded by friends (old and new!).

But life isn’t a LinkedIn profile—it’s not about building a network of hundreds of people. It’s about taking care of the friendships that are meaningful to you.

Friendship: A wikiHow Guide

Remember when friendship meant you shared your Dunkaroos with me and I saved you a swing at the playground? Well making, especially maintaining, friends isn’t as easy as it was in our childhoods. Schedules don’t align, priorities shift, and never have people been more afraid to be vulnerable.

Image result for making friends as kids vs. adult comic

But friendships aren’t rocket science. Although this is far from an exhaustive list, here are some pointers to help those old friendships stay as strong as they were in the 4th grade, and the new ones stick around.

Put in the work

A little gesture can go a long way. Make an effort and acknowledge when it’s reciprocated. Whether it’s remembering a birthday or helping them move out, personalized effort ultimately shows that you care—everyone likes to feel they're appreciated. 

I also can’t stress enough how important it is to show up. The urge to flake is universal but don’t let it become a habit—keeping your word is important in any relationship. Come through when your friend needs you the most—that means sticking by not only during the good and when the going gets tough. 

Avoid the “I’m too busy” mindset

Putting in effort takes time. Everyone is juggling commitments, but don’t let the epidemic of being busy take away from your personal relationships and your own happiness. If your schedules aren’t working out, suggest another date or even a phone call—literally anything is better than a vague “we’ll see”.

It can seem hard to prioritize a brunch date over studying for your exam, but making time for the people you care about can help both your relationships—and your health. Multiple studies on happiness have shown that embracing community and having close relationships help us live longer and happier lives.

Communication is key—and it’s different for everyone

We’re millennials. Communicating with people has never been easier. Whether it’s Snapwhat or WhatsChat, make the effort to keep in touch and figure out what kind of communication works for your friendship. Maybe they're not a texter, or maybe they prefer a catch-up over coffee...just find something that works.

Plus, everyone has different expectations. It’s important to avoid making assumptions; some friendships can go on for months without a single text and pick up right where it left off, while others might think you’ve been hardcore ghosting them.

Take a step back

With all this in mind, sometimes a gentle re-evaluation of your friendships is necessary. Ask yourself if you are surrounding yourself with people who not only make you happy but enrich your life.

It may be time to re-assess those ‘convenient friendships’ where the effort has been consistently one-sided. Or vist how your relationships from high school have changed. But change isn’t always bad—a growing distance between friends doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a friendship. Instead of jumping to conclusions, take the time to talk about each other’s circumstances and discover how those relationships have evolved—and maybe, for the better. 

That being said, friends will come and go and that’s okay. There’s value in the relationships that impacted you at one point in your life. Ultimately, it’s our connections with other people, whether it be for a short or long time, that make our lives that much more interesting and worthwhile.