Friendship, like any other relationship, is a work in progress. Every person grows, learns, adapts, and is shaped by their lifestyle and environment. If you want to nourish any bond, implementing some simple mindfulness habits can go a long way.
Make Time for Focused Contact
Life is busy, and it’s easy to get immersed in work and obligations. Piling one thing after another in your schedule leaves little to no time for yourself, let alone your friends. If you can be more mindful about how you organize your week, you can purposely carve out “friend time.” Coffee dates or just hanging out is extremely important if you want your friendships to thrive.
It’s important that you stay up-to-date with what’s going on in each other’s lives. This way, you can share experiences while simultaneously creating new ones. And when you do get together with chums, make it a “no-phone zone,” so you’re all focused on one another during the time you have.
It’s not uncommon to see groups of people in a restaurant, walking down the street, or even in a movie theater, who are each on their phone. Try to practice being present and paying attention to the person you’re with. They’ll appreciate it, but you’ll have a much better time, too.
Communication Is Key
Good communication is necessary, not only to become a better friend, but also if you need to stand up for yourself when someone isn’t behaving like one. In fact, if you’re experiencing stress in a friendship, honest communication is even more important.
Pay attention and listen when your friend talks to you and be there to support her. Share your own stories and experiences, but also ask for help or explanations when you need them. All relationships are a two-way street, and communication has to flow both ways in order for it to function.
If something is bothering you, speak up. Stand up for yourself whenever you feel like you’ve been treated poorly.
Sometimes, you might be the one who does something wrong. Maybe you’ve unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings. In those situations, it’s important to listen to the other person, respond without anger, and apologize if necessary.
Embrace the Low Points
Everyone has both joyful moments and hardships. Being there for each other through thick and thin is the level of support every good relationship is based on. Of course, it’s awesome to spend time together laughing and engaging in fun activities.
However, it’s just as important to be each other’s shoulder to cry on, back to lean on, or ear to bend. And we all need that helpful friend who offers solutions or help without imposing or judging.
Just a short text asking someone how she’s doing lets her know you’re thinking of her. Life can get pretty messy and hectic, so it’s always nice to know you have someone you can count on.
Create Some Space, Too
Although spending time with your friends is important, giving each other some space to breathe matters just as much. Sometimes, being in the background can be more valuable than constantly being in each other’s presence.
Taking a small break and stepping away can be really good in the long-run, especially if there’s been a disagreement or an issue. Take some time apart to gather your thoughts and emotions, so they don’t overpower you in the moment.
Everyone deals with things differently. Being a good friend doesn’t mean being there literally all the time. It’s about being mindful, respecting each other’s decisions and feelings, and letting each other process things our own way. Your friends will be grateful for this, and more likely to reach out to you, as well as return the favor.
If you have some friends whose energy might be a bit too much to handle all the time, creating a safe distance is crucial. You still want to make sure they know you’re there for them and stay up-to-date with their lives. However, you don’t have to agree to their every request. If you do, you’ll get burnt out and might even start resenting them, which can lead to conflict.
Know When to Step Away
While being mindful of your friends’ needs is certainly part of building friendships. However, it’s just as important to recognize when a relationship has run its course.
Sometimes, being a good friend means being a better friend to yourself. Acknowledge and accept when someone isn’t reciprocating. Don’t waste precious time and energy on someone who doesn’t deserve it. Rather, consider that it might be time to call it quits and go your separate ways.
There’s nothing bad or wrong with this—not everyone is meant to be in our lives forever.
Being more mindful can help you improve the quality of your friendships. Making time to spend together and knowing when to give each other space are both equally important to maintain a good friendship.