Getting closer with your friends is a way to build a lifelong friendship with them. The kind that makes you feel great because you know there will always be someone who can support you in your life endeavors that’s outside your family. But such a thing takes time and effort to build and keep. It sounds a lot because it is a lot. Not in the way that you think though. It’s not about spending 24 hours a day every day with them, it’s about the quality of your friendship’s foundation.
So no matter how many weeks since the last time you’ve talked with them, or how many years since you’ve last seen them in person, both of you know that you have each other’s backs and can still continue talking just like the good times. Life can sometimes get in the way. Even so here are the following ways that you can do to get closer with your friends:
1. Be authentic and stay authentic
To be authentic is to be true to yourself. And to be true to yourself is to get to know yourself. It’s not an easy thing to do. In fact, it is arguably harder to do nowadays with the ever-growing influence of social media. Sometimes people immediately jump onto the bandwagon to feel a sense of belongingness without considering if they’re really into it or not.
To know whether your interests and dislikes are really yours, to begin with, there’s no harm in exploring them. Instead, there’s only the first step of setting boundaries for you and for the people around you. Never hesitate in having boundaries. It’s great for your mental health. It’s also a way to build healthier and long-lasting friendships.
By being authentic, knowing your boundaries, and setting them, you’ll filter out people who aren’t worth your time. Who are bad for you. And how do you know they’re bad for you? Well, they’ll always cross the line. They show disrespect towards you. Being around people with who you can be yourself around helps you to stay authentic. Don’t be afraid to let go of people who don’t accept you for who you are.
Staying authentic and keeping notes of your boundaries will help you track the things you’ll have to improve upon. Remember: People are attracted to authentic people because they inspire them to be true to themselves. Although you can’t please everybody, you’ll earn their respect. Everyone is different, and there will always be someone who can appreciate you.
2. Remember getting closer with your friends takes time
A seed takes time to grow into a tree. It also takes nourishment from the soil, water, and sunlight. Friendships are exactly like this. You don’t rush it. Instead, you take time into building it through time and effort. It can sound exhausting, but really it doesn’t have to be. You’re not alone in building a friendship, there are two of you to care for it.
Nowadays, it’s not easy to trust someone. Not even someone you just happen to bump into and talked for a few minutes. No. Getting closer with your friends takes time because you each have to establish a sense of trust—in other words, security. No matter the number of shared interests you have with your friends, you’ve come to live a different life. Different kinds of childhood and life experiences.
It’s important not to rush someone to get closer to you because it can be really hard for some people to trust. Maybe they’ve been betrayed by their family or friends. Not just once, but many times. So if you’ve learned that your friends have had a bad childhood or have been betrayed in all ways possible, slow down. Never think that you could change them and be the hero. Only people can change themselves. Never expect them to trust you either. All you can do is to be there for them and support them.
That’s why it’s also important to be authentic in the first place. People who are scared to trust have the tendency to be scared of people who can’t stand their ground—when you tell them you like a certain thing today, and the next day, you claim to hate it. Yes, you’re free to change your mind. But it’s better for them to see the process and reason behind it. Make them understand.
3. Be there for them through ups and downs
There are things in life that are way out of your control. It happens to everyone. Like all relationships, friendships do have their ups and downs. You all have your differences. You don’t always agree with each other. And sometimes you can get into a heated argument. Yes, friendships aren’t all about great times. It’s about having each other to rely on when life keeps tumbling down.
During the time when your friends are down and aren’t interested in socializing with anyone, respect them. Don’t take it personally as well. It may have nothing to do with you. If it does, wait for them to tell. Or wait for a bit before asking them about it. People need time to think about things before they can start to recover. So give them the time and respect they need.
During the time when your friends have something to celebrate, congratulate them and give them a gift when the occasion is right. Don’t try to steal the light from them by one-upping them or doing anything negative. Let them shine. Ask them open-ended questions to show that you’re happy for them. They’ll gladly share with you amazing moments of their life from then on.
Whatever mood your friends get into, be sure to listen well. Let them talk it all out. Let them finish. Nod to them and don’t do anything else while they’re being vulnerable to you. Sometimes people only need someone to listen. So by the time they ask for your advice, that’s when you give one. Or after they’re finished and you’ve come up with something, ask them: “Can I give you some advice?” Respect their decision.
4. Bond over your shared interests
Everything starts somewhere. With your friends, it’s better to start with what made you start being friends with each other in the first place. Or if you both have moved on from that, start with your shared interests. There’s always that one reason why you two have clicked. Maybe you both like a sport or some hobby. You can always for each other’s input or discuss it over drinks or meals.
Now if you’ve lost interest in whatever it is that has bonded you with your friend. Don’t panic. You and your friend may have other things you both share an interest in. It’s better to inform your friend that you’re no longer interested in something and make them understand in a way that doesn’t offend them. So choose your words wisely.
If you don’t know how to start the conversation, just ask them about their bucket list. It’s something everyone got because well, not everyone has the time and resources to immediately do something. That’s when they put it on the list. Make sure to ask them when you both are relaxing over drinks or having a great time. Timing is always the key to making meaningful conversations.
When you both have come into agreement on exploring a new shared interest or playing a sport/game together sometime, make sure to agree on a schedule. You see, most of the time people only love the idea of the plan. So it’s important to sometimes take the initiative and set the time and date that is convenient to both of your schedules.
5. Always reciprocate with your friends
It takes two to build a friendship. And it takes two to keep it. So if your friends make an effort to spend time with you and share their moments with you, reciprocate. Give your time and energy too. Invite them over when you have something to celebrate about. Sharing moments with them will bring you closer with your friends.
Reciprocating isn’t just about physically giving back to them. There’s also Emotional Reciprocity, which is about giving each other an equal amount of empathetic support. It involves letting yourself be vulnerable to your friends and letting them be vulnerable to you. It’s about telling them what you need, and hearing theirs as well. It’s about making an effort to help them and letting them help you.
Reciprocity is possible with communication. So never hesitate about communicating with your friends, verbally and physically because it’s among the best ways to get closer with them. Not only does it foster a healthy friendship, but it also builds trust and security. That there will be someone they can rely on. And that someone can be you—if you give back an equal amount of effort to them.
Remember that your friends can’t read your minds. Nor can you. But then again, you don’t only communicate with words. So look out for other signs they give out and ask if there’s anything you can do for them. When you both reciprocate, it means that you both value your friendships. And it should be enough to motivate you into putting an effort into getting closer with your friends.
6. Follow up every now and then
As you grow older, so do your responsibilities. Everyone can get caught up with their work and return to their family, which means there isn’t much time as before to catch up with each other. But there are other ways to do so without leaving your home. With today’s technology, there’s always a way to follow up and get closer with your friends.
There are websites and apps almost everyone uses every day like Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Email, and many more. A simple text saying “How are you?” can go a long way. It shows that you think about them and that you hope that they are well. Something that you must say explicitly too. Don’t only text or call them when you need something. They’d feel used that way. So go ahead and press that send button. They’ll respond as soon as they’re available.
The best thing about communicating or following up online is that you can check on what you typed before sending it. It lets you be mindful of your own words. And your friends can also have time to think of their response. But sometimes, texts can be easily misunderstood. If you’re talking about something personal and don’t have time to meet up somewhere, it’s best to talk it over on call or through video chat.
For you to be able to follow up with your friends, make sure that you have all the contact details you need from them. If they only give you their Facebook, then be glad to accept it. It still means that they still want to be connected with you, or that Facebook is their main way to communicate with friends. Be sure to also give out your social media or number to your friends they too can reach out to you.
7. Avoid comparing anyone, at least out loud
Sometimes you can’t help but compare. It’s okay. It’s not your fault if you do end up comparing people. You may have gotten it from when your family or friends have compared you to other people. Or have compared for the sake of making a point. Comparing is great in certain situations, like which exercise is more convenient for you. It can be a hard habit to kick, but an easy way to keep it down is to just keep it to yourself.
People love to compare because sometimes it’s easier to communicate their message that way. But you have to remember that people are different from each other. They’ve lived in different homes, went to different schools, and have different personalities. Everyone is their own person. So when you make new friends, don’t compare them to your old friends. Vice-versa. Let them be themselves, as you want to be yourself around them.
If your friends recognize that you don’t compare people during your conversations with them, they’ll start to feel more drawn to you because it shows that you let people be. They’d feel more comfortable around you and think that you’re someone they can reach out to when there’s no one else for them. Not comparing people is respecting other people. And in turn, not only will you get respected for it, but you can also get closer with your friends.