As women, we devote endless amounts of time into our search for “the one.” We pour over matchmaking apps, drop everything for a romantic dinner, and clear our calendars for the next date. But when it comes to developing platonic friendships, we think they’ll happen on their own.
We fall into the trap of not putting enough energy into our friendships. Our excuses reflect our current life situation: “It’s too hard to make friends because my kids are so demanding.” Or, “I just moved; I miss my old friends and don’t want to make new ones. Or, “I’m really into this new guy. I need to spend more time with him to find out if we have a shot.”
When it comes to friend-making, we’re too tired, too busy, too distracted…the list goes on.
Yet we’re harming ourselves by not investing in our friendships. People with close friendships have reduced risk for health problems such as high blood pressure, depression, and unhealthy BMI. Many studies have shown that older adults with close friends live longer.
Friends are vital to our health and success because they contribute to our sense of belonging. Consider this quote from Shasta Nelson in her bestselling book, Friendships Don’t Just Happen: The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of Girlfriends: “Our bodies and hearts need [friends]. The lonelier we are, the more we need them. The busier we are, the more we need them….The healthier I want to be, the more I need to connect.”
If you’re looking to invest in your friendships this year, here are five simple tips to get you going.
5 Ways You Can Incorporate Friendship Into Your Busy Week
1. Remember Important Dates
Mark your calendar with specific dates of importance in your friends’ lives. The occasion can be anything: her birthday, the anniversary of her father’s death, her IVF egg retrieval day, the one-year anniversary of when you first got drinks. Send a text, a little present, or take her out for a celebratory dinner to mark the occasion. A little thoughtfulness goes a long way!
2. Don’t be Afraid to Go Deep in Conversations
Instead of just asking for a general update on her kids, try asking “How do you think motherhood has changed you as a person?” Or, “What are your goals and intentions for the new year?” Or, “When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?” As adults with too-full schedules, we don’t have endless amounts of time to gab with our girlfriends like we did in high school and college. Why not skip the small talk and go deep? You’ll both leave the interaction feeling more connected.
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3. Initiate All The Time, and Don’t Take it Personally if Things Don’t Work Out
This one requires you to have good faith in a friend or potential new friend. If we come to the relationship with goodwill and a lack of self-judgment, we won’t be hurt or bitter if our girlfriend misses that scheduled phone call, or keeps giving us a “maybe next time” when we invite her out. Recognize that she’s busy (just like you!) and trying her best. Take a moment to mentally wish her well and send her love. Then try, try, try again.
4. Try a New Experience Together
If you always go out to brunch, switch things up: try a kayak ride instead! Is there a new Ethiopian restaurant in town you’ve been dying to try, even though you’ve never had Ethiopian food? Invite a girlfriend to come along. Visit that museum you’ve heard so much about; get a season theater subscription and ask a bestie to be your date. The more unique experiences you create together, the more connected you will feel. You’re only limited by your imagination!
5. Express Gratitude as Often as Possible
Who doesn’t love to hear that they’re appreciated? Don’t be shy in expressing your gratitude for your girlfriends whenever you can. Text to say how much that coffee meant, or how grateful you are that she let you cry on her shoulder after a bad breakup. The more gratitude you express, the more gratitude you feel. . .and the happier you become.
We deserve healthy relationships with girlfriends who will laugh with us, cry with us, and cheer us on. But we’ve got to put the time into developing those friendships.
Here’s to investing in friendships for the purpose of making us happier and healthier this year.
- 5 Ways You Can Incorporate Friendship Into Your Busy Week - June 11, 2018