As you get older, it gets increasingly difficult to maintain the same level of friendship that adolescence afforded. Put simply, life starts to happen, and things like career, relocation, and family start to fill your calendar. The days of hanging out every day dwindle quickly.
But your best friends are the family you choose, so it’s important to keep up a level of intimacy with them even as life conspires to get in your way. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 7 ways to be a better friend, starting right now.
A lot of friendship maintenance is about getting into a rhythm or building a schedule. Like anything, practice is essential. Even if your friends live in the same city, just call more. Pick up the phone once a week or twice a month, whatever it takes to make it so you’re not just ‘catching up’ every time you speak. Catching up is what acquaintances do — to keep a friendship healthy, you need to get beyond the day-day-day monotony and get into the real stuff. Keeping a regular phone dialog going makes this passive and easy. Use your commute to drop a line or set aside a few minutes every Saturday
2. Practice Patience
One of the most essential parts of being a good friend is patience. There’s something to be said for having faith that if a friend doesn’t call you back quickly it’s nothing personal. People operate in mysterious ways — often, they’re looking out for their own best interests. And that’s all right. Of course, there are limits, but practice a bit of patience and understanding.
3. Go Visit
Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, it’s tough to get time off work, or it’s inconvenient, or it’s any number of things. But there will always be excuses to not see someone. So stop getting in your own way and book the flight already.
4. Invest In Their Families
Friends are the families we choose, but it’s still important to put in time to get to know the people that made your friend who they are. Sure, every family has its drama — and maybe some families simply aren’t worth it (you’ll know, trust me)— but learning to love your friend’s family is learning to love a new side of your friend. Plus, maybe you’ll get invited on one of those cushy family vacations.
5. Be There For The Big Moments
This one is a bit different than visiting, because visiting implies more fun. But as life continues, it invariably gets more difficult. Sickness strikes, parents pass away, marriages start and end — show your mettle and be the friend that drops everything and flies across the country when things get tough. It’ll mean the world.
6. Learn To Love Their Significant Other
It’s a tough thing to truly appreciate the significant other of one of your best friends. Inherently, the new girlfriend or boyfriend takes up emotional space that you might have once occupied, and you get bumped down a peg or two on the priority list. Instead of getting bitter or resentful, take the time to bond with their significant other. You never know, he or she might just be around forever.
7. Keep The History Alive
You don’t want to be one of those friends who only reminisces about the good stuff. Your oldest friends understand you better than anyone because they’ve seen it all. So embrace your odd years, tell those embarrassing stories, and embrace how lucky it is to have someone that’s been there through thick and thin.