Much like romantic relationships, friendships require effort and commitment in order for them to thrive.
Like the love fern in How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days, they need regular TLC. You can’t just leave them to fend for themselves. We have to continuously nourish them, honour their importance and give them the energy they deserve.
We’re all guilty of letting the weeks pass us by without seeing our friends or scheduling in some quality time. Work gets in the way, life happens and before you know it, it’s been six months without the whiff of a glass of vino and a much-needed chinwag.
There’s bound to be periods in your life when you don’t have the time to fart let alone hang out with the girls but looking after those connections and having fulfilling conversations makes us feel seen, understood and appreciated.
And on that note, we’re dedicating this post to bettering our friendship skills. Here’s to being a bloody good pal and getting that well overdue catch up in the diary ASAP.
Don’t flake on plans
Double booked? That’s cool on the first occasion but cancel a fifth time and you’ll forever be known as that flaky friend.
Make plans, be reliable and show up for others – physically and mentally.
Check-in on them
You don’t have to be geographically close to be emotionally present – a random text asking if they’re having a good week will let them know that regardless of how stacked you are in your own life, they’re still a priority.
Be a great listener
Listening is a h-a-r-d skill to master. If you can actively hear someone out without needing to chime in with your own stories, that’s when you’re really lending an ear. Basically, be a sounding board and know when to shut up every now and again.
Have fun and make new memories
Come through with them Oprah quotes whenever they’re needed but make space for the good times in your friendship too. Laughter lines are a sign of true friendship.
Champion their milestones
Celebrate their wins with them and make a fuss when life is going their way!
Whether it’s a promotion, a new baby or finally having the confidence to kick that f*ck boy to the curb, even the smallest gesture can send a clear message that their happiness and success is important to you. When they’re winning, you’re winning.
Practise the art of empathy
We all move through life stages at a different pace and while you might not always be on the same page or able to relate to their circumstances, you can certainly try to walk in their shoes for a minute.
Whether they’re single and you’re married or they’re trying to find their feet with motherhood while you’re nowhere near ready for babies, you can still find ways to understand their reality.
Accept that life just gets in the way sometimes
It’s not you and it’s not them – life runs away with all of us sometimes but as long as you’re both aware that it’s a just a phase and that you can pick things back up when things are a little less crazy, that’s all you need to know.
Know when you’re in the wrong
Having the humility to swallow your pride and admit you messed up makes you a top friend. You live and you learn!
Be loyal and trustworthy
With any interpersonal relationship, trust is a real deal-breaker. They need to know that they can confide in you with total confidence. You have their back and then some.
Speak from the heart
Honesty is one of the most significant friendship traits.
Respect their boundaries but never be afraid to offer up some moral guidance if ever they lose perspective.
Accept them for who they are
A good friend is someone who encourages you to be your true authentic self without fear of judgement. They’ll love you despite your shortcomings, weaknesses and wrong moves.
Solid social connections make for a happy life. Don't miss out on the rewards.
It’s not hard to find suggestions for how to become a “better” person. Whether it’s toning your body, training your brain, or adjusting your attitude, you can probably find an app, a YouTube video/podcast series, or at least a dozen books that could guide you in the right direction. And most of us do strive to better ourselves in some way, no matter where we are in life. However, there is one area for development that might be the key to a whole slew of related life changes for the better. What’s this magic path to living a better life? Simple, it is becoming a better friend.
10 Ways to Become a Better Friend
Here are 10 suggestions for enhancing who you are and what you bring to a friendship—or any other type of significant relationship.
- Communicate with others with honesty and tact. Be willing to voice your own perspective and your genuine feelings, but do so from a place of kindness and sensitivity to the feelings of others.
- Always be a person of your word and stand behind the promises and intentions you make regarding your commitments to other people. Be the kind of friend that people are able to trust implicitly.
- As a corollary, be willing to trust your friends, as well. Most of us feel good about ourselves when others are able to put their trust in us; many of us take pride in being perceived as trustworthy. Spread the positive feelings by being willing to trust others. Too many people have difficulty trusting that others will be there for them—take a leap of faith and model for others how trust can be given and trust can be earned.
- Show up for others – metaphorically and literally—when you say that you will. Be willing to put yourself out for a friend knowing that there may be a time in the future when you need your friend to put himself out for you.
- Recognizing that all of us have a shortcoming or two – and accepting that as part of human frailty—is a significant aspect of enduring loyalty. Don’t give up on friends who falter or who might not be as readily present in your life as you might like. By being loyal to your friends, you are building a strong support network. We don’t always know when we might find ourselves freefalling through life—have a network of friends who are there to break your fall usually is much more likely to occur if you’ve been loyal to your friends over time.
- Practice and master the much-valued gift of empathy for others. Be willing to put yourself in another’s shoes and drop any need to convince others of the “correctness” of your own perspective. Imagine the world from the position of another and you will soon learn the value of this skill in building relationships built on a sense of shared understanding.
- Learn to be present with a friend and to listen without feeling the need to interject just because there’s a pause in the conversation. We grow through learning and if we aren’t willing to listen to others, we can’t learn any more than we already know—or are trying to teach others!
- Don’t assume your way is always the right way! Grow your ability to observe the world from multiple perspectives. This will help you become more empathetic with your friends and it will also help you let go of any judgments or biases you might tend to bring to interactions with others. Empathy and non-judgment are two essential skills that are like fuel to the fire of deepening relationships.
- Be there for your friends when they are coping with the bumps in the road that they might meet; but, equally important, be there for your friends when they are celebrating their triumphs. Everyone knows just how much misery loves company, but remember that most of us love to be surrounded by the people who care about us when we are celebrating our accomplishments, as well. Don’t begrudge, resent, or envy a friend’s good fortune or hard work pay-off, join the party! There’s enough pain to go around in this life, so don’t miss the chance to revel in the joy that your friends might experience in their lives.
- Learn how to laugh at the humor in life—and, most importantly, learn how to laugh at yourself and stop taking yourself so seriously. Yes, life is “serious business,” but without finding a space for joy, lightheartedness, or wonder, you’re investing way too much energy in the “business” of life. Not only do you need to see the humor in life, you also need to be fun to be around. Being the responsible one might be your role in a friendship group, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be fun to hang with. We have enough drama in life on the job or in our families—let go of any tendencies to be a “drama queen” among your friends.
Social Relationships are the Key to a Well-Balanced Life
People are driven to connect and build interpersonal ties with others for the purposes of comfort, security, and belonging. In fact, social engagement enhances our self-esteem and leaves us feeling better about the world and our place within it. Not only do we enjoy intrinsic rewards from social interaction, we also rely on our ability to build communities in order to advance civilization; today, these include online and virtual communities. Throughout history, social organizations have grown increasingly complex as our ability to “tame the world” has increased. Historically, community collaboration allowed people to enjoy benefits and reap rewards that individuals or even families could not generate on their own. Today, this mutual reliance on others speaks to the faith we have in others’ ability to help us meet our needs—whether this for material goods or emotional connections. In fact, friends can offer love and support to you when you cannot offer it to yourself.
Humans are social animals. This observation was first made by Aristotle more than 2000 years ago but continues to be a central truth about our existence. Cooperation with each other is at the heart of our lives and our societies.
At a fundamental level, we rely on each other for basic survival. For example, we rely on farmers to produce our food, and doctors to protect our health. But beyond survival, our reliance on each other helps us thrive. Social connection is a basic human need.
Having strong bonds with other people has a number of positive effects. It bolsters both our physical and emotional health, provides us with comfort in challenging times, and enriches our lives. When we can get along well with others, we are more comfortable and committed; we feel like we belong.
Making friends and building strong relationships seems to come naturally to some people, but can be more difficult for others. But interpersonal skills can be learned, and consciously working to improve them can have tremendous benefits on your well-being. If you’d like to improve your skills in this area, here are some questions you might explore:
Is it possible to get along with everyone?
The short answer is mostly yes. Certain relationships can just be more inherently challenging than others. Perhaps you have different communication styles, have had conflict in the past, or just don’t see eye-to-eye. Perhaps you feel you have a fundamental difference in values. Any of these factors can make it more difficult to get along.
More difficult, but not impossible.
There may be times when you don’t get along with someone and have the flexibility to choose not to spend time with them. But there are also times we have to find ways to get along with family members, coworkers, neighbors, and other acquaintances because they are going to remain in our lives. In most cases, it is possible to improve these relationships and make them more positive.
Doing so will make your life easier. It might also reveal hidden value: a unique perspective, insight into sources of resistance, greater self-awareness and growth, and possibly a rewarding relationship.
Why is it important to get along with others?
The answer to this question lies in our understanding of how important relationships with others are to each of us. Because we are social animals, a significant part of our lives is based on interactions with others. This is true whether we are in school together, work on the same team, or simply live in the same neighborhood. Our ability to get along with others can help us succeed both personally and professionally.
There are individual differences in the number and types of relationships we seek out for our lives. Some prefer to surround ourselves with fewer people with whom we have deeper connections, while others seek to build a broad network of friends and acquaintances. Either way, it’s still important that we build these relationships and get along with others.
In our professional lives, having one or more friends at work has been shown to have tremendous benefits, to you and to your company. For instance, women with a best friend at work are more likely to have a positive experience during the day, including enjoying what they do and being recognized for success. They are more engaged at work, so they are willing to go above and beyond in their roles, and may take greater risks that lead to innovation. Not to mention, when you spend more of your waking hours at work than you do at home, it’s nice to have a strong connection with someone who understands you personally and professionally.
Why do I have a hard time getting along with others?
The answer to this question can vary for each relationship, or each person. For example, you may not get along with a family member who has a different sense of humor from your own. You may feel resentment against a colleague who passed off one of your ideas as their own. Or you may have a hard time getting along with other parents at your child’s school because you have a different parenting philosophy.
Getting along with others in these cases can feel like compromising yourself. It can help to remember why you need to get along with them in the first place. Maybe you need to get along to make it through Thanksgiving dinner without upsetting your grandmother. Maybe you need to work with a colleague to meet a client deadline. Maybe you need the participation of other parents to create a rich learning community for your children.
You don’t have to accept or even approve of all of the other person’s attitudes or behaviors. But sometimes we lose focus of what we have in common and forget the why of getting along in favor of all the why nots.
Look at each strained relationship individually to get to the root of why you might be having a hard time getting along with others.
- Look at your past. Take the time to reflect on relationships you’ve had in the past. This gives you an opportunity to learn from these relationships. What is your track record when it comes to getting along with others? Have you generally found most people easy to get along with, but occasionally meet people who you’d consider the exception to that rule? Or when you look across your life, do you see that there were a number of relationships that challenged you?
- Look for patterns. When you connect the dots between various relationships, trends can emerge. Identifying those trends can be enlightening. Are there certain types of relationships or characteristics of individuals that you find most challenging? What is it about those relationships that challenges you? What are the similarities among the most difficult relationships in your life, and what can you learn from connecting these dots?
- Look at yourself. As much as we want to look at others when we think about our relationships, it’s important to look at ourselves too. After all, you are the only common denominator across all of your relationships! Examining your own role in how you get along with others gives you an opportunity to identify your strengths and areas of opportunity when it comes to building relationships. When you think about people with whom you have gotten along, how did you show up in these relationships? When you think about people with whom you have not gotten along, how did you show up in these relationships? What can you learn from your own role in relationships with others? Are there things you do that tend to draw people close or push them away?
Understanding why you have a difficult time getting along with others can help you learn more about how to improve your relationships. At the same time, after considering the roots of the strain, be realistic. Not every relationship will be a friend—more positive and productive is the goal.
How can I make friends more easily and get along better with others?
All relationships require work, though it may not always feel like work. That could mean a date night with your spouse, calling a friend, or getting together with your family for the holidays. Professional relationships require work too, whether that means inviting a new colleague to lunch or chatting about your personal lives with colleagues before a meeting.
Here are some tips to improve your relationships and get along better with others in both your personal and your professional lives:
Many of us have drifted apart from some pals and become even closer with others, after realising we shouldn’t be taking our loved ones for granted.
However, while we are often quick to call out bad behaviour in friendship groups – whether it’s a mate who hasn’t backed us or someone who has let us down – what about what we could be doing ourselves to be better friends?
It turns out there are a number of ways to have more meaningful friendships – and ones that will last longer, as a result.
Psychologist Emma Kenny delves into some simple things to keep in mind.
Honesty is best policy
Even when it can be really tough, it’s always better to be honest – rather than lie.
‘Really great friends don’t lie to appease their mates, or avoid having difficult conversations because they know what they have to say will be painful to hear,’ explains Emma.
‘This creates a foundation of authenticity and trust, which is the basis for a long-lasting relationship.’
Be there, always
Whether it’s a hard breakup, family problems or work drama, it’s vital to be there for friends when they are having a difficult time.
Emma adds: ‘Make sure you show up during the most challenging of times because this is when you’re needed most and why you’ll be respected and loved.
‘It can be hard to be around someone who is grieving, depressed, angry or lost – but a true friend will weather the storm beside them.’
Push each other
Bring out new sides to one another by pushing each other.
‘Challenge each other to try new things by setting goals and holding one another to account,’ adds Emma.
‘This makes life interesting and means your relationship is ever-growing and full of fun.’
Try to understand
Emma stresses that it’s important to practice acceptance, as opposed to judgment – even when we don’t agree.
This is because if someone feels judged, they are likely to push you away.
‘We all think the advice we give is good advice, but the art of being a great friend involves accepting that our friends need to make their own decisions – even when we think they are the wrong ones,’ Emma adds.
‘When things go wrong, encourage them to figure out how they can learn from the experience, as opposed to saying “I told you so.”‘
It’s crucial to make time for friends – a period where you can fully focus on each other, with no distractions. This quality time will help with bonding and connection.
‘Life is full of distractions and this can mean that good friendships suffer,’ adds Emma. ‘Make a commitment to see each other regularly and stick to that schedule. When you meet up pay attention to what’s going on in one another’s lives so that the time you share is quality.’
Call, don’t text
Taking time to call someone can, quite literally, make a person’s day. It also makes a friend feel special.
‘Instead of texting, make sure you pick up your phone and give them a call because research proves that talking regularly encourages and promotes bonding behaviour – whereas texting can make the recipient feel unimportant,’ continues Emma.
Don’t get sour
While it’s a completely natural feeling, jealousy can also be a dangerous – so it’s important not to let it get in the way of a friendship.
Emma says: ‘It can be hard to remain a cheerleader in your bestie’s life when they seem to be going from strength to strength – particularly if your life isn’t moving at the same pace.
‘This kind of toxicity can ruin the greatest of friendships and the only antidote is to be happy for them.
‘Instead of feeling envious, use their success as a motivator for yours and ask them to give you insight to how they have achieved their goals so you can do the same.’
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Emma suggests getting stuff in the diary in advance, so you always have something to look forward to and know when you’ll be seeing each other next.
Locking in these future dates and activities will make friends feel more valued.
Keep things positive
‘When you are together, try not to be negative about others behind their backs as, while the two of you may love a gossip, you may actually undermine trust in the relationship you have with one another,’ adds Emma.
While it can be tempting to talk about other people, it’s a good idea to avoid bitchy behaviour – as a friend might worry you’re doing the same to them.
Good friends are hard to come by, but when you find them, you need to hold on tight. Does your social circle need a revamp? If you can relate to any of the following, you may need to upgrade your BFFs.
You can’t trust them with your secrets.
A friend who can’t keep her mouth shut is no friend at all. Just like relationships, friendships are built on trust. Everyone deserves a certain amount of privacy, so the women you chose to share your deepest darkest secrets with should make sure those skeletons stay in the closet.
They’re only around for the good times.
You know that friend that’s always the life of the party? Well, just because hanging out with her is a blast doesn’t mean she’ll be around when life blows up in your face. Good friends are around for the good and the bad.
You’re always cleaning up their messes.
It’s sad to say that some friends drag you down, but unfortunately, it’s too often the reality of so many friendships. Whether the girl is drunk and sloppy or actually breaking laws, you don’t need that stress in your life. Her screw-ups aren’t your problem, and if she can’t get her act together, you might just be better off without her drama.
They take you for granted.
Think about how much effort you put into your friendships. Are your friends as invested as you are? In order to have a friend, you need to be a friend. Can you honestly say that your friends appreciate everything you do for them? If not, what you need to find is a friend that gives as much as she gets.
You spend more time as enemies than as friends.
The history of your friendship shouldn’t be marked by a long series of fights. Just like relationships, there are healthy and unhealthy friendships. You should be allies, not constantly at war. Sure, friends fight, but there should always be more good times than bad.
They don’t fight fair.
You don’t want to be fighting all the time, but there will be fights every now and then. That’s life. That being said, you shouldn’t be approaching every fight like it’s your last. There’s no need to start rumors, sabotage relationships, or reveal a friend’s deepest darkest secret. Bottom line — if you want the friendship to last, don’t play dirty.
You can’t trust them with your boyfriends.
Come on, this is friendship 101 — you don’t go after your friend’s guy. A girl who flirts with your boyfriend or a guy you’re even interested in is no friend at all. You need a wingwoman helping you find love, not a heartless attention seeker stealing it.
They make you feel bad about yourself.
Your friends are supposed to build you up, not tear you down. When you can’t see the good in yourself, they should be there to remind you of just how amazing you are. They’re friends with you for a reason — just make sure that reason isn’t to make them feel better about themselves by making you feel worse.
You’re worse off with them than you are without them.
Your friends should bring out the best in you, not the worst. Are you happy when you’re hanging out with your girls? Do you have a good time? And how do you make other people feel? If your friendship is built on being bitchy to everyone else, then the world would be a much better place if your relationship didn’t exist.
You don’t know why you’re friends.
The question is simple — why are you friends? It should be easy to list off the good qualities that make your girls such amazing friends. If you can’t come up with even one good reason you’re friends, maybe you shouldn’t be.
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We know that exercise is great for our minds and bodies, but sometimes it’s challenging to maintain interest. That’s why exercising with a friend can be a huge benefit. Here are eight reasons to get exercising with a friend.
1. It’s more fun exercising with a friend
You’re less likely to get bored when you have a workout buddy, especially a friend. While you’re catching up, having a laugh, encouraging each other, you’re also getting healthier. It’s a win-win.
Chatting to a friend during exercise and breaks can help time pass quickly too. You’ll have more options as well, such as a game of tennis or squash.
2. You can build new friendships
Exercising with someone you don’t know well provides an opportunity to build a new friendship. You’ll be starting with a shared interest – improving your health – which can make it easier to chat about other things as you work out.
Joining an exercise class can be a great way to meet people, get to know them better, and make new friends.
3. You’re more likely to stick to your commitment
If you’ve arranged to meet a friend for a walk or booked an exercise class, you’re more likely to keep that commitment. Not wanting to let your friend or exercise partner down can be a great motivator to show up.
And as your exercise becomes routine, perhaps after a few weeks, you’ll both find it less challenging and will more likely stick to your commitment.
On those days when you don’t feel like exercising, a pep talk from your workout buddy might be just the lift you need. You can support each other.
4. You’re more likely to succeed in your goal
Having someone to motivate you can make all the difference to achieving your goal. In fact, research
has found that people are more likely to lose weight if their exercise buddy is losing weight. Bonus!
But remember, exercise is still beneficial even if you aren’t losing weight.
5. You’ll work harder with someone else around
When you exercise with a friend who’s around the same fitness level as you, you’re more likely to encourage each other and to push a little harder (to increase intensity, for example) than you might do on your own.
A friend can bring out your competitive side and spur you on. When you’re ready to give up, the sight of your friend powering on might be just the incentive you need to keep going.
6. It can be more affordable exercising with a friend
If you hire a personal trainer, or buy equipment, splitting the cost two ways will save you money.
You can also save on travel costs by car-pooling to get to the park, gym, pool or sports venue.
7. Your friend may have new exercise ideas
Your workout buddy probably has some skills and knowledge that you don’t. Along the way, you might learn new skills – refine your running style, for example – or you could learn a whole new sport or activity.
Variety is the key to sticking with your exercise plan. Mix it up. You’ll have more fun and less reason to quit.
8. It’s safer to exercise with someone else
Having someone to spot you when you’re lifting weights (that is, someone ready to support you, if need be), or to go running with you, especially at night, means you have help at hand if anything goes wrong.
Finding someone to exercise with
There are plenty of ways to find an exercise partner. Here are a few suggestions to get the ball rolling.
Friends or family
Start with friends and family who live nearby, or maybe your neighbour or a work colleague. Suggest a daily or weekly workout date, and make the commitment, helping each other along the way to achieve goals.
Join or start a walking group
Walking groups are easy to find, or to start up from scratch. Check out the Heart Foundation Walking website
for everything you need to know to get started. What about starting up a lunchtime walking group at work?
You can also find walks in your local area and throughout Victoria on the Victoria Walks website
Charity or fundraising teams
Get fit and do a good deed at the same time while taking part in a charity event. Many charities host walks, runs and triathlons to raise money and awareness for their causes.
Popular events include:
For more activities, check out the following events websites:
Neighbourhood boot camps
Boot camps are a fun and affordable way to join a fitness group. Many personal trainers, as a side line, offer discounted boot camp programs at local parks and recreation centres. Search online for a ‘boot camp’ or ‘personal trainer’ in your area.
for professional advice and ongoing support.
Sports clubs or groups
If a particular sport takes your fancy, there’s sure to be a club or group where you can share your passion, practise and play. Think soccer, AFL, tai chi, table tennis, darts or dancing. Search online for clubs or groups in your area. Having structure to your exercise helps to keep you committed.
You can find a list of recognised sporting associations at Sport and Recreation Victoria
Exercise ideas to share with friends
Exercise options are endless. Here are a few suggestions to try with a friend:
I write often on the benefits of living with fewer possessions. One of the greatest rewards of living with less is the opportunity that it provides to focus our energies (and finances) on the things that are most important to us. These values will change from person to person, but for me, they have been typically defined as faith, family, and friends. Since choosing to become minimalist, I have had more time, money, and energy to pursue each of them.
One of the reasons that friendship makes my list of values is because I have seen how much benefit they provide. The opportunities they provide to make life better far outweigh anything that can be found in material possessions. As a result, they ought to be pursued with far greater fervor than most of us commit to them.
Consider the ways friends make life better. Authentic friends…
1) Encourage us. Friends believe in us. As a result, they offer both the words and the support we need to become better people in all aspects of life.
2) Challenge us. Friends recognize deficiencies in our life. They challenge us to embrace and succeed in making these healthy, life-giving changes.
3) Motivate us. In every regard, it is highly motivating to know that someone loves you, believes in you, and is cheering for you.
4) Listen to us. Friends open their ears and hearts to our words. A listening ear communicates value, trust, and openness. And a listening ear provides the opportunity for our thoughts to disentangle themselves.
5) Celebrate with us. Full joy is never realized until it has been shared with others – that’s why we immediately call our friends when something good happens. Friends celebrate with us in victory and make our joy complete.
6) Grieve with us. Life is full of ups and downs. Friends make the high points higher and the low points bearable.
7) Support our contributions. Friends recognize the value we contribute to the world and the beauty we offer to it. They look forward to our contributions and promote them to others.
8) Keep us honest. Friends know us best. They know our strengths… and they recognize our weaknesses. Because of their intimate knowledge of who we are, they keep us honest with each other and with ourselves.
9) Add joy to our lives. According to a study from the Harvard Medical School, the more friends a women had, the more likely they were to be leading a joyful life. There is likely some correlation between being joyful and having friends… but clearly the inverse is also true.
10) Improve our health. Studies also indicate that authentic friendships actually result in better health. These relationships make healthy habits easier to adopt and the body more likely to heal itself.
11) Provide opportunity for influence. Trust always precedes influence. Sometimes trust can be earned quickly (books, experts, studies), but other times it can take years of living life together. Friendships – life lived in relationship with others – offers trust and influence.
12) Provide opportunity for sacrifice. Giving always benefits the receiver and the giver. True friendships require sacrifice. And in that sacrifice, both lives are improved.
Of course, those of you who already have good friends understand these realities. In that case, take some time today to be reminded of their importance in your life. Adjust your life accordingly. Extend gratitude where needed or change your priorities as necessary to further invest yourself into them.
But there are a number of people who will read this post and desperately desire the level of intimacy and longing mentioned above. You have sought these friendships for years and yet, for one reason or another, they have eluded you. Or you had them at one time, but they have since disappeared from your life. Take heart. And never lose hope.
The path to discovering these authentic relationships is always the same. It will require risk, trust, and honesty. It will require sacrifice and intentional investment. It will require you to give and give and give some more and it will require you to become the very friend you desperately desire. But in the end, it will be worth every ounce of energy you commit to it.
When a friend hooks up with your boyfriend or posts mean stuff about you on Facebook, it’s obvious that it’s time to let them go. However, bad friends aren’t always obvious, which makes it important to watch out for the more subtle signs that you need new friends. It can be hard to let go of people that have been a part of your life, but bad friends can end up hurting our emotional wellbeing, and good social support is important for both our physical and mental health.
"Every relationship serves a purpose for us, even if it’s a bad one," says Jasmine Menser-Lust MA, LCPC over email. "While we might not be completely fulfilled, there is something in those bad relationships that we are getting such as a feeling of companionship, hope, or worth. When you realize that the purpose the relationship is serving is outweighed by the discomfort of what is lacking, you will be more secure in your decision to not engage in that relationship."
It might take some strength, but saying goodbye to the toxic friends in your life can do you some good. Here are 11 subtle signs to watch out for that indicate that you need some new friends in your life.
You Don’t Feel Like Yourself When Your Around Them
Good friends just make you feel comfortable completely being yourself. "This is a huge factor when you are in a friendship that is no longer serving you," says psychotherapist Melissa Divaris Thompson, LMFT over email. "How do you show up when you are around this friend or group of friends? Do you find that you can’t really be yourself or that you judge yourself for what you say or you are careful about what you share?
Some friendships last a short time, and some last a lifetime, but all friendships are important.
Friends don’t have to share all the same interests, being different helps us learn new things from each other, and allows us to feel free to be ourselves. Love your friends for what makes them unique, and don’t feel you have to be anything you’re not with them.
2. Don't worry about having a best friend
Sometimes we can spend a lot of time fretting about who has that coveted ‘best friend’ status. In reality, no single friendship can provide everything we’ll ever need in our friends, so it’s far better to have lots of good friends rather than just one best friend.
3. Spread your wings
To make new friends, we need to be where the people are! Sports and social activities are a great place to meet new friends, as you instantly have common ground to chat about. Plus, you’ll be spending a lot of time working together in a team or on a project.
4. It's not all about you
When making new friends, don’t rush to tell them everything about yourself. Remember to listen and take note of things you’re both into. Make sure you’re there for your friends whenever you need to and regularly check in with them to see how they are.
5. Know how to rekindle the spark
Making the effort to spend more time together again can help, if you feel a friendship is becoming distant. To keep a deep friendship going, it’s usually best to have regular, short contacts rather than leaving it ages before getting in touch. If there is an underlying issue that’s affecting the friendship it’s best to talk it out and try to resolve things. Meanwhile, keep thinking about you friend in a positive way and remember the good times you had.
6. And when to let go
Some friends grow together, others grow apart. As we go through life, our personalities, interests and circumstances can change too. This can mean we’re not so suited to each other as we once were. This doesn’t mean that your friendship wasn’t a special part of your life, but it’s ok to move on to new friendships and meet new people throughout your life.
Had a fall-out with a friend? Check our advice on making up with your friends.