How often do you sit on the sofa with your partner barely a foot away from each other, chatting with other people on social media? How often do you go out for lunch with a friend or to their house, to both spend time checking your emails or scrolling through feeds? If the answer is “all of the time”, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most of us are now spending time communicating or sharing with people online when we are in the company of others. We’re glued to our phones most of the time, and we often give it more attention than the people around us.
Social media is wonderful. Used correctly it’s a great way to nourish your friendships and maintain contact with people that live far away. But, many of us are guilty of paying more attention to these screens and communications than we are our real lives. Our real-world relationships are suffering because we struggle to give the real world and the people in it our full attention.
This kind of neglect can lead to the breakdown of friendships, divorce, and ultimately extreme loneliness. These friendships and relationships are important. These are the people that are there when you need them. That offer you a shoulder to cry on or important advice. That pick you up when you are down and give you a confidence boost.
While these friends and lovers might always be there when you need them, without nourishing the friendship by giving it your attention, time, and love, it won’t always be the same. For a lasting friendship that never falters or declines, you need to put some work into it. Here are some great ways to do just that:
Give Them Your Time:
Best friends are often the ones that you don’t need to see every week for things to stay the same. Even after a bit of a break, you snap back into your old ways, sharing jokes and giggles like you’ve never been apart. You can call them in the middle of the night even if you haven’t seen them for a month. But, you do still need to give them some time. Eventually, it will have been too long. Try to meet regularly, even if it’s just for a quick coffee. Show them that you want to make an effort to see them, even when you are busy, and they’ll do the same for you.
Leave Your Phone at Home:
There’s nothing worse than being out with a friend to see them constantly on their phone. You feel like going out was a waste of time, and you’d have got more of their attention if you were both at home chatting online. So, don’t make this mistake yourself. Have a rule with your friends that when you are together, the phones stay behind. So what if you don’t share a photo of your dinner with all of your Instagram followers? You’ll really share it with your friends, instead.
The key to all relationships is listening to each other. This is another thing that’s easier to do when you’ve put your phones and devices down. To show you are listening to everyday conversations, remember what they’ve told you and ask about it in the future. Don’t make them tell you the same thing twice because you weren’t paying attention the first time.
Everyone loves to receive a gift, but as we get older, we often buy them less. Many of our friends probably only get a birthday text or Facebook message. Now and then, get them something just because you want to. It could be a membership to the Flower of the Month Club or a nice meal out. Think about it, though. Don’t just buy something for the sake of it. Get them something that they will genuinely love.
Try New Things Together:
One reason that relationships start to fade is due to a lack of shared interests. Think about yourself ten years ago – are your interests still the same? Probably not, we change and develop all of the time, just as the world changes around us. Your best friend from ten years ago will also have different interests, and they may not be the same as yours. To maintain this friendship, it’s important to do two things. First, show an interest in the things that they love. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, ask them questions and give it a go for yourself or at least make it clear that it’s something that you are willing to talk about.
Then, you need to try new things together. Think outside of the box and try something that neither of you has ever considered. This will mean that you’ve always got something new in common, even if it’s a disaster.
Know When to Let Go:
However essential friendships are, it’s also as important to know when to let go. To stop wasting your time and effort on those people that never give back, that only bring negativity into your life, and that leaves you feeling worse than you did before you spoke. Letting go of these negative relationships can help you to feel more positive and give you more free time to spend with the people that are willing to give back.
Good friends listen, they are honest, they make you laugh, and they are there whenever you need them. To have friends like this, it’s essential that you learn how to be one yourself.
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