Universally, I think while there might not be studies around friendship and the difficulty in making authentic, intentional friendships but we can somewhat agree that it gets tougher as we grow older. I think that difficulty is especially compounded when living in transient and dense cities like New York. Having been here for a short while, the conversation of flaky and shallow relationships always comes up more frequently than I had anticipated. While I might not be an expert or the perfect friend to others, I have found there are traits that people have displayed that I find make fulfilling relationships
- Stop making everything about “you.”
Seriously, just stop. Do you want to go out but never willing to visit your friend who suggests a place in Brooklyn or the Bronx? Are you constantly making the conversation about your own life, successes and problems? Do you completely ignore you friend’s needs and not try to be empathetic or understanding?
It is easy to constantly be stuck into your own life but try to be open to listening and engaging your friends. Being self absorbed is not a quality a lot of us want to be associated with but its possible that it is problem a lot of us have.
Its hard to actually not make a conversation about our own lives but challenge yourself to completely not think inwardly and you will be surprised to learn what you find out about about the people you think you are close to.
After you stop making everything about yourself, the next logical step is to listen actively and be open to hearing what your friends have to say. I have realized that my experience of restaurants is that everyone is always talking over each other in loud voices (yes, that’s a stereotype) but that leaves little room to listen and deliberately pay attention to the needs of those you care about when they open up to you. Listening opens up an avenue for you to be there for your friend.
3. Be open and transparent
I value being trusted and needed. I would like to believe you do too. There are moments that we choose not to share some personal details of our lives which is sometimes warranted however it is also important to keep your friends involved and aware of the happenings in your life.
While you might consider it as just omitting some truth, others might look at it as lying. We always want people to see our intentions but people engage with your actions.So while you might think your intentions were in the right to keep important details about yourself it reflects negatively on other people who care for your well being. Try to make sure as much as you can that your friends feel included in your life.
I find it strange that people do not like to make calls. We love to leave voice messages or texts but never picking up the phone to call. I do not remember the last time I made a call to be honest. While technology has made an amazing job of keeping us connected, verbal communication allows for more in-depth interaction than text or voice messages. Making the time to communicate over the phone forces you to be attentive versus the tiresome task of texting with everything else that we have to do.
“Most of the time multitasking is an illusion. You think you are multitasking, but in reality, you are actually wasting time switching from one task to another” — Bosco Tjan
If it means putting the call on your calendar, then go ahead and do so. So just pick up the phone and make that call
5. Prioritize your friendship
In a culture of busyness, it’s expected to have a scheduled life to the minute. I think though it is important to show the value of friendships clearly even when you have other plans. If you have a meeting that can be rescheduled for another time or an engagement that is not life or death, occasionally prioritize your friendship especially if they want or ask for your company. With recent discussions around mental illness, it is important to show people that they have value in our lives. You don’t know whether or not you simply choosing them over something else could be what helps them through a tough time and knowing they are loved.