And yet, as we get older and become preoccupied with our jobs and our families, oftentimes the friends we’ve known the longest – and have come to rely on emotionally – get the short shrift. It makes a counterintuitive kind of sense. Those relationships have already lasted years, so it’s only natural to assume they will continue to thrive while we tend to newer, more fragile connections.
We forget though that everything is subject to the forces of entropy – even the things that seem to be the most secure. Our minds turn to the classic poem “Ozymandias” – famously referenced in Breaking Bad – in which the poet describes an ancient, monumental sculpture lying in ruins: “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!” the inscription on the sculpture’s pedestal reads, though ironically “nothing besides remains … of that colossal wreck” except that pedestal.
The message: even the most stable things in life are subject to the erosive effects of time, crumble. We might operate under the assumption that our friendships will maintain themselves—and, indeed, we’ve all had the experience of meeting up with an old friend and feeling like no time has passed—but there are often exceptions to the rule. No doubt this is why the failure to keep in touch with friends ranks among the most common regrets people have at the end of their lives.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to maintaining friendships. But there are ways to remind yourself that they need to be tended to. Consider these three concrete steps to strengthen and enrich your friendships.
Taking note of these important milestones in those aforementioned apps – and send off a quick text to let your friend know you’re thinking of them – is a great way to make sure you stay engaged with your friends and are there to support them. You’ll see – a small “Good Luck!” text will go a long way.
That’s why the common inclination is to say and do nothing, out of fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. But doing nothing won’t help anyone – and it certainly won’t strengthen your relationship with your friend. On the other hand, acknowledging our bafflement – admitting that we aren’t quite sure how to help – can actually be incredibly powerful. Asking how we can help gives our friends the space to express their needs and helps us show up for them most effectively.
Taking these four simple steps can go a long way in helping to deepen and maintain your close friendships. But if you’re still struggling to strengthen your rapport with your friends, consider starting a relationship with us. Click here to get started on the road to healthier relationships.