Have a relationship you'd like to transform? Keep reading to learn how!
1. Commit to your plans.
We all do it: the whole “Let’s hang out soon!” bit without any further thought or follow-up. Sometimes it’s because we are comfortable with the relationship where it’s at and sometimes it’s because we don’t have the time in the moment to make solid plans. There’s nothing wrong with either of those scenarios, but if you find yourself feeling guilty leaving your friendship on hold like that, take action! Make plans and commit to them; hold up your end of the bargain even when other opportunities come up that might be more enjoyable.
That being said, a solid relationship takes effort and it’s not always going to be 50/50, but it should even out. If the other person is consistently flaking out, move on. While that doesn’t mean you cut them out all-together, it does mean that they probably don’t value your friendship as much as you might value theirs and you should find someone else who thinks you’re as great as you think they are.
2. Learn each other's love language.
While the term ‘love language’ might seem a bit froofy, there really isn’t a better way to describe the unique method by which each person gives and perceives affection. There are five main categories: words of affirmation, acts of service, presents/sacrifices, quality time, and physical touch. All are pretty self-explanatory, and each person usually prefers two categories almost equally. Simply put, take the time to observe how the other person shows affection, then try to show them affection in that way. It’s usually a good idea to talk about this together, even if in a very give-and-take, casual sort of way so you’re both on the same page. It doesn’t need to be a serious or intense conversation, unless you’re in a romantic relationship.
3. Ask questions.
It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised, upon reflection, how few questions we ask our friends. We’re not talking about questions that are a means to an end, but truly penetrating queries that teach us about the other person. Be intentional in learning about each other and ask questions not merely to fill the silence but because you’re invested in the relationship. Trust us, the more you know about each other the more you’ll enjoy the friendship.
4. Listen to learn, not to speak.
Don’t listen just so you can get your turn to talk. Listen to increase your knowledge of the other person, to be a sounding board for their successes, frustrations, and dreams. In a world of social media and constant business it is difficult finding time to meaningfully talk to those around us. Don’t spoil that by cheapening the other's words in an effort to get yours out. Be okay with being silent while your friend fully describes their thoughts, not interjecting, and ask questions that help get to the heart of what they are trying to convey.
5. Voice your concerns and frustrations.
There’s no point in an investing in a relationship where you don’t feel comfortable speaking your mind. Friendships become stronger with conflict and resolution. If there’s something bothering you, take the initiative to bring it to light. While it’s not okay to be a jerk about what’s bugging you, it’s perfectly acceptable to be up front with the issue. Sweeping hurts and annoyances under the rug is the perfect recipe for an eruption that spews every grievance (not matter how long ago they happened) all over the friendship. That will destroy what you’ve built.
Keep in mind we’re talking about bigger problems than leaving a window open or forgetting to pick up milk…some things you just need to get over. But with those annoyances you feel will keep occurring? Bring it up. Work it out. Move on.
6. Be yourself.
It’s impossible to build a truthful relationship when no one is being honest about who they are and, for the most part, people are really good at sniffing out the huge turn-off which is fakery. Surround yourself with authentic people and don’t invest in someone because of who you want them to be, but because of who they are right now. You’d want them to do the same for you, right? Work together to become better by holding each other accountable to the goals you set and don’t hide whatever quirks make up your personality. True friends will love you for them.
We are better together, so take the time to discover the relationships you want to deepen and be an active participant. Make memories with those you love! They are one of the only things that last.