Giving more depth to your friendships: 4 ways to strengthen your connection
Over time, many people enter our lives. Some end up becoming life-long friends, while others only stay in our lives for a season. Either way, each friendship is important in their own right. Regardless of how long people stay in our circle, we most likely have shared fun times, heartfelt conversations, and genuine moments together. Having "companions", or people who are part of our personal journey and with whom we share the ups and downs of life, is important.
Here’s the thing though...we all know that responsibilities such as a job, maintaining a home, and family obligations can feel all-consuming and may limit how often we see our friends. What’s more, as life moves forward, people may move to different cities or experience other major life events like a new baby. With all of the things that can feel like ‘obstacles’ to maintaining friendships, it’s crucial that the time we do have with our friends is spent intentionally and that we continue to make our friendships a priority.
Why are friendships so important?
These days, it’s easy to fall into the “busy trap” and let work deadlines, social media, and day-to-day stressors overwhelm us. (P.S. - looking for ways to beat the ‘busy trap’? Check out this awesome blog post on how to do just that!). The thing is though, when life feels overly full, maintaining social connection becomes even more important!
Remember, good friends are our “family of choice.” They’re people we choose to let into our lives, spend our time with, and share both joy and sorrow with. It’s incredibly valuable to have people in our lives who we trust, know us inside and out, and accept us for who we are. But we can’t expect our friendships to maintain themselves! It takes a little effort, but that doesn’t necessarily mean meeting for coffee every day or talking on the phone every night.
If you feel your friendships could use a little TLC, keep reading to learn 4 of my favorite ways to deepen your connection with friends, even when you don’t see each other or speak every day. After all, it’s about the quality of time you spend together, not the quantity, that makes the difference!
4 Ways to Strengthen your Friendships
Stay interested in each other’s lives - and stay part of it!
As I mentioned earlier, sometimes the circumstances in our lives change. People move, get new jobs, get married, have kids. However, even though circumstances shift throughout life, if we want to maintain and strengthen our friendships, we have to go along on the journey!
For example, I didn’t start college until later in life after many of my high school friends had already graduated. Even so, I made it a priority to visit my friends while they studied in Spain and now they come to see projects of mine at an exhibition once a semester. It’s so important that we remain interested in the lives of our friends, even if we’re in different stages or places in life. It shows genuine appreciation for one another!
Equally important, however, is that we always respect the paths of our friends - even if it’s not the path we, personally, would have chosen. When this happens, remember what connects you to that person and recognize that they may be adding to the relationship with a new perspective on life. What a gift!
Create fun traditions
Is there something you look forward to all year long because it’s a special event or tradition that you and your friends get to experience together? Maybe it’s something like a music festival, wellness retreat, or sporting event?
If you don’t currently have something like this with your friends, I highly recommend it! (Side note: it doesn’t need to be expensive or fancy - just fun!). Whether it’s a guys weekend getaway once a year or an annual barbecue every summer (that’s what my girlfriends and I do!), knowing you have this event on the calendar helps keep the connection strong...even if you don’t see each other very often in everyday life.
When my girlfriends and I get together for our barbecue, an important part of this summer tradition is the Vertellis Holiday Edition. We like to play the game after dinner accompanied by delicious drinks and candlelight. By asking thought-provoking questions about the past, present, and future, we’re not just reminiscing about ‘old times’ but can stay up to speed on what’s currently happening in each person’s life! These conversations are so intense, inspiring, and emotional, that I feel much more connected to my friends afterward.
Incorporate mindfulness into your friendships
"The only way to have a friend is to be one." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
What do you appreciate most about friendship? Is it kind gestures, knowing you have someone to call in an emergency, having someone who listens to you when you’re going through a hard time, or is it the feeling of deep appreciation for another person? Now ask yourself: Are you the friend you would like to have?
By asking this question, you’re opening yourself up to being more mindful in your friendships. Notice your behavior around friends and ask yourself if that’s the way you’d personally want to be treated. For example, I recognize I appreciate genuine attention from friends. When we’re together, let’s put our phones away, be present, engage in deep conversations, and have fun!
I also try to stay mindful of important events going on in my friends’ lives. For instance, I’ll send a “good luck!” text in the morning before a big exam or ask how an important presentation went at work. These small, kind gestures show friends they are valued and let them know: I’m thinking about you!
Have “magic moments” to remember!
A friendship lives from shared memories. However, it’s also important to not get stuck only talking about the “good old days”, but also create magic moments in the present!
These "magic moments” often come about coincidentally. For instance, I will never forget when I traveled to another city to see a concert with my best friend. As luck would have it, we met our favorite band during the day and then were even more excited to attend the concert at night! I'll never forget that experience and, to this day, whenever I hear that band I think of her!
But...magic moments can only happen when we actually meet. So come on! Call up a friend, set a date for a dinner or activity, and create new magic moments together.
If you have a handful of good friends by your side, you’re very lucky. Take good care of these friendships and reap the benefits of genuine human connection! I hope these 4 tips give you some ideas on how to strengthen your connection with friends and take your relationship a little deeper.
What if you call your best friend right now and tell him/her how grateful you are for their friendship and how much you appreciate them? P.S. This is the perfect time to send up an in-person, friend-date, too!
Vanessa works for Team Vertellis from her home country of Germany. She loves to write - for others and for her own blog - but also can spend the afternoon with her nose in a good book. When she’s not reading or writing, you can usually find her outside: walking, hiking or inline skating. She describes herself as cheerful and open to new experiences!