In a virtual world, the true meaning of friendship can become a little blurry. We collect friends on social media sites and like each other’s photos. We even refer to our online connections as friends, though we may never have met them. These connections should not be underestimated. Some of them lead to real-world friendships. But in terms of true friends, these relationships need nurturing.
Prioritise Your Friends
We all lead busy lives, and it’s easy to put off meeting up with the people we care about. We intend to do it when this project at work is out of the way. Or when our children are more settled in their new schools, etc. There’s always something, and before you know it several months have slipped by.
Make your friends a priority in your life. Prioritise time with them as you would prioritise work and family commitments. Even if it’s just meeting up once a month, put it in the diary and stick to it.
Take It Offline
Online friendships are important. But it’s often when those relationships come offline and into the real world that they flourish. It’s fine to support your friends by liking their posts and sending them texts. Just make sure this doesn’t take the place of spending time with them. It doesn’t have to be anything special or expensive. It could just be a rainy day at home spent laughing and catching up. Or, a quick catch-up at the the coffee shop with the good espresso coffee machines and the great coffee.
Everyone likes to be heard. They like to feel as though they have a voice and that their voice matters. Taking the time to listen to someone is important. This means not interrupting with your own similar experiences. It means being silent for a while, making eye contact and demonstrating understanding and empathy. It also means checking in with them. If they have confided a problem to you, catch up with them to see how they’re doing. Even if it’s just a quick text to let them know you’re thinking of them, it will mean a lot.
One of the great things about friendship is that you can share your problems. You can talk about things that you would never share with anyone else. If someone can confide in you this way, it’s a privilege and should be treated as such. Being non-judgemental is important. If someone discloses something difficult and you judge them, this will erode their trust in you. Just be honest and supportive.
Bad things happen in all our lives at some point. We all go through losses and difficult times. It’s often through these circumstances that we learn who are real friends are. In challenging situations it’s hard to find the right words. But don’t let this be a reason to back off. Instead, admit that you don’t know what to say. Tell your friend that there are no words but that you’re there for whatever they need. This, more than anything, will strengthen the bond between you.
And it goes without saying, have fun whenever you possibly can. Do the things you both enjoy, be silly, and laugh. Friends will be there for you in the bad times. Make sure you have plenty of good times too.