Friendship is one of the things that truly make life worth living. Our friends lift us up during dark times, inspire us with their own success, and give us laughter and joy. But perhaps the most important thing about friendship is having the opportunity to love others. We experience personal growth and development when we become dependable and positive for other people. Strong relationships with your friends can make you both feel safe, confident, and valued while helping you avoid loneliness, anxiety, and depression.
We understand that friendship sometimes presents challenges, too. Unpredictable life events can affect the closeness and stability of your relationships with each other. Here are 14 ways to love your friends and keep them.
1. Choose your friends carefully.
True friendship requires you to be vulnerable, forgiving, generous and devoted. This will take a lot of time and effort on your part, and it is a gift that should only be given to the worthy people in your life. People who demonstrate the virtues that you want to have, and are considerate and thoughtful towards you, are the ones who deserve your friendship.
2. Respect their complexity.
Accept your friends for who they are, even if they turn out to be somewhat different from your first impression of them. As you get closer to your friends, learning new things about them will be part of the journey.
3. Let them grow.
True friendship is more than just having fun together. To love your friends, you need to encourage them to work hard and reach their goals. Sometimes, this can mean that they will have less time for you. Let them know that this is okay, and that you will still be there for each other when you really need it.
4. Listen to them.
Make the effort to understand how they feel and why they feel that way. Empathize with them, and try to interpret the deeper meaning beneath the words they use. People aren’t always easy to understand, but your friends are certainly worth the effort.
5. Be happy for them when they succeed.
Ironically, this is harder than it seems. It’s been said that anyone can share the sorrows of a friend, but it takes someone exceptional to be able to share the success of a friend. Even when we truly care about someone, we can still feel envious when they’ve succeeded beyond our expectations. Many of us think that we could never feel this way about our friends’ success, but this is often observable in the way that people act when their friends get married or get a better job, and their new life occupies more of their time.
It’s actually completely natural to feel this way because we fear being left behind. The key is to view this as an opportunity for your friendship to grow and become more mature, as you both adapt to life’s changing demands.
6. Let them know when they’ve done something wrong.
Don’t let them keep failing out of politeness and the fear of hurting their feelings. This is one of the things that only true friends do for each other. When you see that your friends’ behavior is harmful to themselves or others, find a loving and concerned way to tell them. Push them to turn things around and act responsibly.
7. Listen to their advice.
During the times that your own behavior needs correction, accept the criticism from your friends. It comes from a place of love and concern, just like the criticism that you give to them. Listen to their advice but you should not stop there. Do everything you can to improve and learn from your mistakes in the past. This is true especially if you’ve been called out about the same thing more than once.
8. Unburden yourself at the right times.
It’s a sign of trust to confide in your friends about what you’re going through, and this is something you should be able to do with your friends most of the time. However, when your friends are going through their own intense struggles, their energy may be too depleted for them to listen to you talk about yours. During these times, it’s wise to allow your friends time to recover so that they can give you their full attention.
9. Initiate contact with them.
It hurts to get rejected, even though it’s “just” your friends. In this day and age, it’s not really cool to keep reaching out. But some people are worth it. Even if they’re busy, your true friends still want to spend time with you.
10. Be honest with them.
Let them know when they’ve hurt you. Out of fear of being labeled “demanding” or “needy” many people just suddenly start distancing themselves from their friends. If your friends have hurt you or disappointed you in some way, give them the chance to apologize and repair your friendship.
11. Make time for them.
If you’re the one who’s usually busy, you may not realize how much it affects your friends when you reject their invitations to spend time with them. Although you shouldn’t feel guilty about being busy, you should consider finding ways to spend more time with your friends that work with your schedule.
12. Share your interests with each other.
Introducing your interests to your friends is a great way to spend more time with them, and help them get to know you better. Encouraging your friends’ interests will also increase their confidence and give you new ways to bond. When you’re growing and improving together instead of just entertaining each other, your friendship will be stronger and more likely to last.
13. Resolve conflict openly.
Even your closest friends will disagree with you sometimes. But if you remain respectful and focus on finding a solution to the problem, your friendship can grow stronger because of the honesty that you’ve shown them.
14. Stand up for them.
Protect your friends when they’re threatened. In settings such as some workplaces or schools, gossip and politics can run rampant and victimize certain people just for the sake of entertainment. True friends will defend each other against untruths, even if they lose some popularity.
15. Share your blessings with them.
Be compassionate. The good things in life become much better when they’re shared with the people you love. It’s true that there are many people who would take advantage of your generosity. But when you’ve chosen your friends carefully, they will graciously accept what you share with them, without taking advantage of you.
16. Pray for them.
As much as we want to give our friends, there are times when they need more strength and hope than we can offer them on our own. When you pray for your friends, you entrust their healing and well-being to God – the One who would never let them down.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” – John 15:12 (NIV)
When we need guidance on how to take care of the important friendships in our lives, we can always look to God’s perfect example of friendship. In the love that we have for our friends, we find a glow of the divine, and the assurance that we are deeply connected to each other, and will never have to walk alone.
Also read: 18 Simple Ways to Love Your Family