It’s easier to cancel on a shopping trip with a friend then it is to skip your child’s school play or ignore the oil change light on your car. And the ramifications of canceling on a friend are a lot less dramatic then skipping the play or ignoring the warning sign in your car – most of the time all that happens is you’ll see each other less.
Most likely the friendship won’t be ruined and feelings won’t be hurt; however, friendships aren’t indestructible and it’s easy to keep canceling… Rescheduling to another week. Pushing girls night out back and back and back until it doesn’t ever happen.
Truthfully, there were many years where I practically ignored all of my friends.
They weren’t even put on the back burner – they were completely tossed aside. It wasn’t until I realized that I honestly missed them that I knew I had to do something about it.
See, we all need friends. We can’t rely on our boyfriends/husbands and family members to be the only people there for us. We all need friends for support, understanding, new perspective and love.
In fact, having friendships can help you strengthen your other relationships, improve your outlook on life and feel more confident, supported and motivated. I’ll even bet that if you dedicate time and energy to friendships all of the other areas of your life will improve.
Yes it takes time and energy to improve your friendships!
5 ways to improve relationships with your friends:
1. Make dates and actually keep them
Don’t cancel this time. Take it seriously. Write it in pen in your planner. Consider this time as sacred and valuable and show up. Yes, I know it’s easier said then done, and I understand if a crisis comes up, but make your friendship dates a priority in your mind and your life and you’re more likely to keep them that way.
If you tend to cancel all the time try scheduling the date farther in advance.
2. Be Totally Present
Then when you get there, really, truly, completely be present. Give your friends the attention they deserve. Listen to their stories, their feelings, their stories. Hold this space for you and your friends to connect on a deep level ::: so put your phones away, let go of your to do list and just give them all of you.
3. Have Quick Check-ins
Now-a-days there are so many ways to connect with friends so don’t rely on face to face meet-ups to stay connected. Instead, email, text, call, Facebook or even snail mail them in between your dates!
It’s a great way to let them know that you’re thinking of them and that you value your connection.
4. Be thoughtful
Is one of your friends having a rough time? Bring them a little care package of goodies. Is someone else going through a career change or divorce?
Make sure they know you’re there for them – call, text, email just to say that you’re there for them if they need anything. Doing little things like sending them a card or bringing them flowers lets them know that you’re thinking of them and they’re important to you. Oh, and…
5. Really Be There
If you say you’re around for support and help be sure to show up. Don’t flake out when they need you. Be the shoulder they can lean on, the person they can count on through the good times and the bad. Not only will they do the same for you but it’ll feel good to help those that you love.
While these guidelines can help I know that friendships can be complicated; so, I surveyed my readers for their biggest challenges in keeping friendships strong. Here were a few of their concerns:
But Erin, I have trouble even just scheduling a date – our calendars just don’t match up!
If you struggle finding a time and date that works try combining your friendly meet-up with something you already have to do. Like, go food shopping together, run errands together one afternoon, go to the salon together, or even better work out together. That way you’re spending time with your friend but getting stuff done at the same time.
This is all great but my best friend lives on the other side of the country – how can we connect?
For those friendships that are separated by miles and miles of distance (rather than just busy schedules and to do lists) here are a couple ways to help stay connected: Skype/phone call coffee dates, snail mail/emails, yearly visits or meet somewhere in between. Say your best friend is in CA and you’re in Boston – meet in Chicago (pretty cheap airline tickets) and have a girlfriend’s weekend! Or you can both bring your families and spend some time with everyone together in one place.
Our differences are making it hard to really connect – we have completely different lives…
This is a lot harder to address in this post but my instinct is to say that sometimes you need to give each other space to grow. Giving your friendship a small break (or long one) can actually allow the connection to grow deeper and stronger. Sometimes not. Sometimes it’s best to allow yourselves to grow apart and find new friends. Listen to your intuition to tell you whether it’s a good time to take a step back, take a total break, or try to make it work.
Bottom line: Get creative with your meet-ups and really focus on connecting when you are together.
Share your ideas on how you keep your friendships strong!
P.S. Feel free to share this post with your family and friends in fact we love it when you do!
Erin is known for her radiant energy, bright smile and willingness to get real.
As a writer, life coach and Reiki Guide Erin is dedicated to supporting people in their journey to find clarity, direction and happiness. After moving past her own barriers to happiness she knew that she could help others though the same mindful yet bold approach she used to create a joyful, engaging life. Just recently she launched a video series: Creating Careers of Purpose that runs every Friday.
She believes in the importance of community, connection, compassion, and a good cup of coffee.