Building Successful Friendships

If you’re in your 30s, 40s or older, you may find that many of the friendships you once had have changed or in some cases fell apart, usually due to just natural growth on each person’s part; or moving away or developing different belief systems.

At any rate, some of us find ourselves a bit older with very few strong, genuine friendships. So, if you're in the market for a new friend, what can you do?

Here’s a list of 10 things we can keep in mind if we’re in the market for new friendships:

1. Start with you

First, start with you. Developing yourself to be a genuine, authentic person will help you to attract others like you. Starting with a self-check is crucial- you shouldn’t ask of other people what you are unable or unwilling to give yourself. Consider what you have to offer a friendship. Make a list of what you have to offer. Then use the same piece of paper to make a list of what you need in a friendship. If there are any discrepancies, use those as areas of opportunity for you to grow before pursuing friendships.

2. Seek like-minded people

Now that you have a good idea of what you offer and what you need, seek out like-minded people. This can be hard- where do you find people?

If it were that easy, we wouldn’t find making friends difficult, right? It may be easier than you think. What activities do you enjoy? Do you have any special interests? How active are you in those communities? Think about some things you can do in your community. If nothing exists, consider creating your own group based on something you’re passionate about.

3. Next Steps

So, now you’re in contact with others who seem like good people. How do you take the next step? Most people appreciate you showing an interest in them, so try reaching out and starting a conversation. True friends typically want to know about you and your life, and how they can be a part of it, so don't be afraid to share more about yourself in the process.

4. Brush up on conflict management

At some point, you and your new friends may  disagree.

Try to take care of minor issues before they turn into larger ones. It's okay not to agree on everything, and you certainly don't have to be exactly alike to have a healthy relationship. Just be open to discussing your differences in ways that benefit you both.

5. Learn to be direct and upfront

Learn to be comfortable being direct and upfront. If you’re needs are not being met, don’t shy away from talking about what you need with your friend.  If they are as invested as you, they will respect your boundaries.

6. Make time  

Make time for your friend, and make sure the relationship is healthy and reciprocal. Due to our busy lives, we may not always have time to hang out for hours or have long phone conversations, but a quick "how are you?" text or email to check in goes a long way in building rapport and trust in your friendships.

7. Be on the same page

Understand that some people’s definition of “friend” can be different from yours. Make sure you and your potential friends have the same understanding. Some people are great acquaintances and associates, and there is nothing wrong with having those categories in your relationships. If your definition of friend goes beyond these, make sure to let your expectations be known.

8. Give Space

Give each other space. When you meet like-minded people, it's very tempting to want to spend all of your free time with them- which makes sense, right? It feels good to be around people who get you. However, it's good to give  others space and time. Try to plan out your time together when possible.

9. Celebrate your friends!

Celebrate them! Often times, it’s the little things.  If you friend succeeds- show up for them and celebrate their wins, and they should celebrate yours in return.

10. Be trustworthy

This is a no-brainer- it’s hard to maintain any relationship if there is no trust. Be upfront and honest with your friend. Never say negative things about them behind their back and keep your word whenever possible.

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