There’s a clear difference between knowing how to make friends and knowing how to keep and maintain friendships for a long time.
If you have trouble keeping friends around, or if you’re tired of losing many friends over the years, then there are a few lessons I learned and want to share with you here.
Things come and go in our lives. While that is something we can and should accept sometimes, it doesn’t always have to be that way, especially with the best friendships we’ve built.
In the essence of that, today you will learn how to keep and maintain friendships.
Which Friends To Keep
It’s useful that you should put aside the myth that you should keep in touch with 100% of the people you meet. That’s unrealistic and you shouldn’t make that your socializing goal. You can’t keep up with thousands of people.
The question you should be asking yourself is: “What kind of friends do I want to keep?”
The answer to that question should fall in line with what you value most — the friends with whom you get along best, those you feel close connections to, those who make you feel that you matter, the people who make you feel understood, those who will be there when you need them, and those you can trust with your most intimate secrets.
These are the qualities of a good friend. If you happen to meet and befriend people like these, you shouldn’t lose them. These are the kinds of friendships you should keep and maintain.
You also generally want to keep friends who have similar interests and general opinions on life as you do. The people you share common interests with are likely to be your closest friends in the future. If not, they can become colleagues you’ll share ideas with. Whatever the case, cherish those you meet who you have a lot in common with.
What Makes A Friendship Break Up
There are a lot of factors that can cause you to lose friends. Sometimes, you just 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 are scenarios that can happen to anyone.
Another reason why you might break up with a friend is unresolved conflicts. You or your friend can’t see eye to eye on a matter. One of you did something and refuses to apologize or maybe you just disagree on whose 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. As you both grow individually, you also gain more knowledge and skill. The knowledge and skills you gain may not always coincide with those of others. You both feel less and less of a drive to hang out together because of this.
Other times, you or your friend are 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. If it’s 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, there are clear things you can do to keep your friends instead of losing them. These are the conditions that have to be met for the friendship to be maintained. Once these conditions are met, they have to stay that way.
Yes, friendships need to be maintained in order for it to stay alive. It’s often a FRAGILE relationship. Friendship, being a loose relationship (not like romance or business) needs more conscious nurturing than we assume.
Be that as it may, you should treat friendship like you would any form of relationship. If you don’t want it to fail, you need to treat it well. If you want to keep and maintain the friendships you have now, take note of these following tips.
1. Keep Having Interactions That Sustain The Friendship
Keep taking interest in what they do. Share your own interests with them as well. If they pick up a new interest or hobby, get excited and be happy for them. Aside from that, encourage them to try other things out. Keep having fun with them. Do fun things together. Keep that environment of leisure alive. You and your friends should take a break from day-to-day life every once in a while.
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. Talking about your experiences in detail. Getting to know each other deeper through stories. The more you know about each other, the stronger your bond will be.
One other thing you can do with your friends is to find a new hobby you will enjoy doing together. If there’s anything you and your friends haven’t done and have been meaning to do so, do them now! Even if it’s just you who have been dying to do something new, bring them along with you. Doing new things together is a good way of maintaining a friendship.
Interact with your friends in a way that’s meaningful and fruitful and you’ll be able to keep and maintain your friendship better.
2. Keep The Interactions Frequent
This factor is 80% of the game when it comes to maintaining friendships: staying in touch.
To keep a friend or a group of friends for a long time, you need to see or talk to them at an acceptable frequency. If they’re in the city, try and meet them every once in a while, especially if you want to keep them as close friends. Casual friends can be met less frequently. For your 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-distance friendships and casual acquaintances, I recommend you touch base at least twice a year. Take the opportunity to touch base on their birthday or other important events. Call if you can. Don’t just leave 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 to do all your “staying in touch” with friends. Make it a habit, it’s easier that way. In just a few weeks in of doing this, you’ll realize the importance of your friends and how they make your life more fun.
3. Don’t Push Away Your Friends For No Reason
A casual friendship can be turned into a close friendship. This, however, 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. You develop the trust with that person; again, step by step.
Once they invite you to their home, try and replicate. If they introduce you to their families, try and do the same. Once 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. As a matter of fact, go out of your way to strengthen your relationship with them.
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, do your best to resolve conflicts. Make sure you do it without any judgment. 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, and you, as someone who needs to resolve it, should listen to every side.
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.
Another thing you need to understand is that conflicts are bound to happen. If it happens in a friendship, in yours, don’t get discouraged right away. Resolve it instead of letting it go immediately.
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 human beings 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 for you 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 judgment. Better yet, join them! Be part of their adventure. You might learn a thing or two about yourself in the process.
Change is inevitable and it happens to people too. It happens especially to people. Whenever it happens to a friend, embrace the change. The best changes happen to the most interesting people. So if your friend changes in a certain way, be happy for them. Just be sure that it is change for the better and not the other way around.
6. Be More Open To Your Friends
This may take time, but being more open towards your friends is something you should strive for. If you can’t be open to your friends, you’ll always keep them second-guessing about you. This leads to frustration and doubt. Those are two elements you don’t want in your friendships if you want them to last.
There are two ways you can be more open to your friends. One is to allow yourself to be a little vulnerable. This doesn’t mean you should always be like an open book, but your friends should be able to see you as a person, both good and not-so-good aspects.
A true friend will admire you for your strengths and understand you for your flaws. You shouldn’t hesitate to expose both to the friends you value.
Another way you can be open to your friends is to always speak your mind. If you have opinions on any matter, even if it’s about them, especially if it’s about them, let them know. Don’t let those thoughts bottled up inside you. Your friends will appreciate your more if you’re able to speak up your mind.
If you see your friend doing something right, let them know in appreciation. If they’re doing something wrong, be honest. You’re being a good friend this way and it’s one of the best ways you can keep and maintain your friendships.
7. Go Easy On Your Criticisms
The previous point talked about being open. Here you’ll understand more of that in terms of maintaining friendships.
Yes, you can and should be open and honest with your friends. However, there’s a fine line between being honest and being critical. That’s a line you shouldn’t cross.
You’re allowed to criticize your friends. But for you to be able to do that properly, you need to know the difference between constructive and destructive criticisms. You should always opt for the constructive ones.
Whenever you criticize a friend, make sure you do it in goodwill. Make sure your criticisms are understandable, They’re honest but helpful. Never use hurtful words and comments. They’re needless and cruel in this situation.
At the end of the day, just make sure everything you do and say is done and said with the best intentions. Your honesty and helpfulness will be appreciated and once all of that is over, you’ll have strengthened your friendship, thus keeping and maintaining it.
8. Share And Keep Secrets
Secrets are a vital part of every friendship. Friends share secrets with one another all the time. Secrets can also make and break friendships.
If a friend shares a secret with you, make sure you keep that forever. The moment your friend told you that secret, they immediately gave their trust to you. Make sure you don’t break that trust by telling their secrets to other people. You also shouldn’t use those secrets to take advantage of your friends. Don’t use it against them.
Exposing a friend’s secrets to others and/or using that information against them is a sign of betrayal. More often than not, this destroys a friendship beyond repair. Make sure you don’t do anything like this if you want to maintain your friendship.
Once a friend does start sharing their secrets with you, make sure you do the same. Reciprocate. As mentioned, friends share secrets with one another all the time. This doesn’t mean it’s just them that should be sharing theirs, you need to share yours too.
Sharing your secrets isn’t necessarily a “rule” that lets friendships blossom, this only means you’re trusting your friends enough to tell them a few secrets of yours. Trust should go both ways.
If your friends break your trust by telling other people your secrets or using it against you, then that just means they’re probably the kind of people you shouldn’t keep in your life anyway.
9. Don’t Be Too Critical Of Their Other Friendships
It’s just a given fact that all of your friends will have other friends too. Human beings are very sociable creatures, after all. Your friends won’t always be with you when going out. They also meet other people outside of that. Malls, parks, social media, etc. Whenever they do make friends, you need to understand that completely.
What will most likely happen is that you’ll also meet the friends your friends have made. When this happens, make sure you’re not too critical of them. If your friend and someone else ended up building their own friendship, it means they were able to understand each other to a certain degree. You will not always understand that, but they will.
You don’t have to get along with every single one of your friend’s other friends, but sometimes, you will too. Just keep an open mind and allow them in your lives too. Who knows, you may end up being close with them as well.
Sometimes, you’ll encounter friends of friends who you just won’t like at all. That’s fine. It happens to the best of us. But this doesn’t mean you should encourage your friends to stop befriending them as well. Let them be. Their friendship has to run their own course. Just focus on your own friendships.
If you keep on pestering your friends on their other friends, they might think you’re being too jealous or hateful. This may turn them off and that will stop your friendship from going further.
10. Just Enjoy The Friendship
The rules of friendship should always remain unspoken. It is not something you say out loud nor is it something you list down. This is something you remember out of courtesy and respect for your friends. It’s something you do unconsciously if you really care about the friendship. The best thing you can do is to just have fun with the friendship itself.
Your friends are your sources of inspiration, celebration, and your companion through good and bad times. Having friends will have a good impact on your life, both physically and mentally. Make sure you have fun with the idea of friendship.
Once you quickly enjoy the idea of friendship, you will immediately care for all of the friends you currently have. You will also feel more drive to make more friendships. You will unconsciously start going out of your way to make sure all of those friends will remain with you. Nourishing them will become second nature and you will be able to keep and maintain your friendships. You will be an amazing friend towards all of your friends. This is the most important part here.
Consider making friends as an essential aspect of life instead of a chore. Compare nurturing your friendships to your nurturing of yourself. You nurture yourself because you want to remain healthy. It’s not something you do as a chore. Think of your friendships the same way. You nurture them to keep them healthy.
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 on 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.