Our friends mean the world to us. Where would we be without the people who love and support us — the ones we laugh with, cry with, and even get angry with? If our friends knew how much we cared about them, they’d be blown away.
But our friends can’t know what we don’t tell them. That’s why we need to take steps to show the people we care about just how important our relationships with them are to us. Here are a few ideas for doing just that.
Reconnect in person
The internet and smartphone age has been a mixed blessing for meaningful friendships. On one hand, it has never been easier to stay connected with the people we care about most. On the other, though, we’re not always connecting in the best ways.
Stop and consider how often you see the friends who you text most. Can you see them more often? If they live far away, you may be able to visit them on a vacation; if they live nearby, you just need to put down the phone and meet in person. Even if you’ve never met your friend in person, you can turn that online friend into a real-world one.
Buy a thoughtful gift
There are different “love languages” out there, and each of us has tendencies toward certain ones among them. Regardless of whether or not gift-giving comes naturally to you, you should make sure to occasionally give your friends a tangible sign of your affection.
The gift could be something that shows your knowledge of your friend’s interests and needs, like a practical item or something associated with your friend’s favorite hobby. Or your gift could be symbolic of your passion for the friendship itself, like friendship or sister bracelets. You’ll find lots of tasteful options online, and they’re perfect for combining something beautiful with the beautiful feelings that you and your friend share.
Do something different
Even if you see your friend in person a lot, you may feel as if you’re not as close as you wish you were. That may be because you’re always doing the same thing with your friend.
Sometimes, we have a tendency to pigeonhole our friends into different roles. We go shopping with this friend and we watch Netflix with this one. This isn’t fair to us or to our friends, and it’s not how real relationships are built and preserved.
So do something different. If you’re always going clubbing with one friend, hit the liquor store and have a personal party at home instead — you might have a more meaningful conversation than you’ve ever had before. If you’re always a couch potato with a friend, go out to dinner (or even to the gym) instead. Shaking up the environment that you hang out in can help you connect with your friends in new ways.
Share concerns (and listen to theirs)
In any kind of relationship, communication is key. When you fail to share something that bothers you, you’re only inviting that thing to take up residence in your head. Soon, it will be growing and bothering you more and more. And when resentment builds up, friendships suffer.
Here’s a better idea: When you’re feeling resentful of your friend, find a healthy way to share it. This doesn’t mean that you should wreck parties by blurting out your jealousies at inopportune times, but it does mean that you should find a good time and a place to share your feelings (ideally without making your friend feel any undeserved blame).
This goes both ways, of course. You should be willing to listen when your friend is the one sharing his or her concerns with you. It’s not always easy to hear that someone is upset with us, even if it’s not really our fault, but staying on the same page will make your relationship with your friend stronger.