There’s a clear difference between having the skill of making as many friends as you want, and keeping those friends for a long time.
If you have trouble keeping friends around, or if you’re tired losing many friends over the years, then there are a few lessons I learned and want to share with you here.
Which Friends To Keep
It’s useful here to put aside the myth of keeping in touch with a 100% of the people you meet. That’s just unrealistic. You can’t keep up with thousands of people,… Unless that’s your hobby.
The question here is: “What kind of friends do you want to keep?”
The answer to that question is often about what you value most – the friends with whom you get along best, and those with whom you feel close, those who make you feel that you matter, those who make you feel understood, and those who will be there when you need them, and those you can trust with your most intimate secrets.
You also generally want to keep friends who have similar interests and general opinions on life as you do.
What Makes A Friendship Break Up
Somethings in life cause you to lose friends, and you can’t do anything about it. Circumstances like moving, new family obligations (think marriage/kids), or maybe even work related issues that force your friends to socialize less often.
Another reason why you might break up with your friend is unresolved conflicts. You or your friend can’t see eye to eye. One of you did something and refuses to apologize Or maybe you just disagree on who’s fault it is. Sometimes, it’s plain jealousy between friends.
Another reason why you might lose friends is that you start to have less and less in common. You both feel less and less of a drive to hang out.
Other times, you or your friend is too clingy or too distant. There is sometimes a difference between how much “space” you need in the friendship and how much the other person wants. It they’re too different, it can be tough to maintain the friendship. One friend might want to share a lot of activities and maybe share all their secrets, while the other one wants to be less involved.
What You Can Do To Keep Friends
All that being said, at the core of how you can keep your friends, instead of losing them, there is clear things you can do. These are the conditions that have to be met for the friendship to be maintained.
Yes, friendships need to be maintained, to stay alive. It’s an often FRAGILE relationship. Friendship, being a loose relationship (not like romance or business) needs more conscious nurturing than we assume.
1. Keep Having Interactions That Sustain The Friendship
Keep taking interest in what they do. Keep sharing your own interests with them. If they pick up a new interest or hobby, get excited about it a little; encourage them to try stuff out. Keep having fun with them and doing fun things; keep that environment of leisure, and taking a break from day-to-day life.
Keep talking and sharing your stories about work, family, relationships, and day to day life. It sounds simple, but that’s partly what friendship is about: sharing life.
2. Keep The Interactions Frequent
This is probably 80% of the game: stay in touch. To keep a friend or a group of friends, you need to see or talk to them at an acceptable frequency. If they’re in the city, try and meet them once a month, especially if you want to keep them as close friends. Casual friends can be met less frequently. For you inner circle, the people you go out with the most, I recommend once a week; or twice a month if you can’t do it every week.
Staying in touch is 80% of the game.
For long term, long distance, or acquaintances, I recommend you touch base at least twice a year. Take the opportunity to touch base on their birthdays; call if you can – don’t just post a message on their facebook profile.
Some friendships can survive even if you don’t see/hear from the person that often. It’s the case if you spent a great time together and feel that you bond very well. Even in that case, it’s still nice to touch base once in a while.
Take half an hour to an hour every week and do all your “staying in touch.” Make it a habit, it’s easier that way.
3. Don’t Push Away Your Friends For No Reason
A casual friendship can be turned into a close friendship. That requires liking each other more, sharing more personal information, opening up more, being more intimate, and supporting each other emotionally.
If you have a legitimate reason NOT TO do that with a friend (you don’t have time, you already have enough close friends, you don’t entirely trust them, etc) then fine, you don’t have to let the friendship “escalate.”
Don’t stop a friendship from “escalating” unless you have a reason to do it.
If you have no reason to keep the friendship casual, then don’t prevent it from happening. If a friend gets more involved in the relationship, and you feel like you want to do that as well, learn not to shy away from it. Go step by step, as you develop the trust with that person; again, step by step.
If they invite you to their home, try and replicate. If they introduce you to their families, try and do the same. If they share information that is dear to them, try and replicate as well.
If you don’t replicate, the other friend can assume that you’re not that interested in a close friendship, and might stop investing themselves with you. There is nothing wrong about opting for a casual friendship – but at least do it consciously; don’t push friends away for no reason.
4. Deal With Friendship Conflicts, It’s Worth The Temporary Pain
Managing conflicts in friendship is a vital skill because it’s the best of friendships that are likely to hit a bump in the road. If you don’t resolve the conflict, you might lose a very dear friend.
Managing conflicts in friendship is a vital skill because it’s the best of friendships that are likely to hit a bump in the road.
Whether it’s between you and someone else, or between two of your friends, try and resolve conflicts without too much judgement. The key to that is to take each person’s perspective. That’s very important. Each person needs to share how they see the conflict, from their own place.
Once everyone shares their perspective, each one can at least see some validity in their friends’. You want to “get” why the other person did what they did.
After that, you want each person to see that the other person didn’t intentionally hurt them. You want them to see how the friendship is more important than that one incident. That’s how they see the bigger picture, apologize to each other and move on.
5. Remember, Your Friend Isn’t A Stone; They’ll Change
Part of being a friend is accepting the other as they are. So who are they? They’re a human being, with a dynamic personality. They can change their opinions, change their habits, or have their moods change.
A big problem in friendship is that people expect the other person to be predictable. Experience will show you that the most interesting of your friends are those who seek out new interests. They like to challenge their existing opinions and assumptions.
And while they challenge their old ways of thinking – that might not be easy for you to hear.
The best thing to do is to embrace it. Let them have their adventures in activities or in thinking. That’s what friends are for, allow them the space to share that without judgement.
Knowing this will free you from wondering why some friends leave while others stick around. In my eBook, Get The Friends You Want, I teach you the friendship skills necessary to meet, befriend, and keep the best people you can find. But we keep a focus in making sure you can get that done within your existing schedule.
Download your copy here: Get The Friends You Want. Give it a try and learn what it takes to have people want to keep you as one of their best friends.
Free Social Skills Newsletter and Secrets to Making Friends
Learn what really attracts friends to you, and:
How to overcome shyness and loneliness
Techniques to keep conversations going
Specific strategies to make new friends and build your social circle
Download GET THE FRIENDS YOU WANT Today
Learn the ONLY way to:
Overcome Loneliness and Shyness
Master Conversation and Important Social Skills
Learn To Make Friends and Build a Social Circle
Try The Monthly Advanced Social Skills Training
Learn How to:
Meet and Make Friends With Great People
Use Proven-To-Work Social Skills and Techniques
Take Your Social Confidence To A New Level