All human relationships have their nuances, but in a distraction-filled world, friendships can be especially tricky waters to navigate at times. The following are a few tips to maintain positive, proactive, relationships for the betterment of your and your community’s mental health.
You’ve known your pal for years, but all of a sudden, your close friendship has changed. They seem distant from you, avoid hanging out and/or ignore your calls. Sound familiar? You might assume it’s on you, “What’s wrong with me?” or, “What did I do wrong?” It hurts when there’s no rationale for why someone would become distant. But, as with any friendship, there’s no need to panic when you’re experiencing a friendship breakdown.
People, events, and contexts inevitably change. It’s a part of life that everyone experiences. How you react to friendship obstacles determines the direction of the relationship moving forward. While acknowledging that challenges will arise, here are four strategies you can use to bolster a relationship with a close friend:
Communicate: It’s alarming how often we avoid authentic communication in relationships. If you think there’s something below the surface that needs to be discussed, get to the bottom of it. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. If your friend declines your request to discuss the issue, then accept they’re not ready. Often, challenges resolve when the time is right. If you’ve reached out on multiple occasions without success, give them space and do your best to accept this fact.
Work on yourself: It’s cliche, but turning your attention inward will never lead you astray. It’s easy to get thrown off the horse when you’re obsessing over situations you can’t control. It’s common to let events in our lives distract us from taking proper care of ourselves. Eating well, exercising, keeping a routine, and taking time for hobbies you enjoy are vital to maintaining healthy relationships with friends.
Show effort: When you have the same friends for years, it’s easy to assume they’ll always be there for you no matter what, and vice versa. However, friendships are like any other living thing, they need input and a little tendering. With job changes, the introduction of a new family member, or a move, life changes, and inevitably has impacts on relationships. Accordingly, choose to put effort into those relationships that matter most to you.
Actively listen: As the Dalai Lama wisely expressed, “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know, but if you listen, you may learn something new.” One of the most important parts of being a friend is listening, so take the time to participate in the conversation actively and show that you care about them.
Building and maintaining new friendships requires effort, understanding, and patience. Here are six tips to help nurture these meaningful connections when meeting new people:
- Open Communication: Keep the lines of communication open. Share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. When misunderstandings arise, address them promptly and honestly. Active listening is an equally essential social skill, showing that you value and respect your new friend’s perspective.
- Quality Time: Invest time in the relationship through common interests. Whether it’s a quick chat, a movie night, or an occasional getaway, spending quality time together helps strengthen the bond and create lasting memories.
- Mutual Respect: Value your friend’s opinions and feelings, even if they differ from yours. Avoid passing judgment and appreciate the unique qualities that each individual brings to the friendship.
- Support and Encouragement: Be there for your friend during both good times and bad. Celebrate their achievements and offer a listening ear or a helping hand during challenges. Genuine support fosters trust and deepens the connection.
- Set Boundaries: Every relationship needs boundaries. Discuss and establish what’s comfortable for both parties regarding personal space, time commitments, and shared responsibilities. Respecting these limits ensures that the relationship remains balanced and healthy.
- Stay Flexible and Adaptable: People change, and so do circumstances. It’s essential to recognize that new relationships might evolve over time. Stay open-minded and adaptable to these changes, finding ways to navigate and grow together.
Remember, friendships, like any relationship, flourish when both parties invest effort, show mutual respect, and communicate effectively. Meaningful friendships are a key component to your emotional health and happiness – they help you navigate through life’s tough times because you’re not in it alone. Keep in mind that relationship challenges should not be avoided but rather seen as opportunities for growth.
If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health, request an appointment with one of our professional mental health providers at Diversus Health today. If you need immediate assistance, call our crisis hotline at 844-493-8255, or text ‘TALK’ to 38255.