Maintaining a friendship is work like anything else that’s worth having. But no matter what you do with your life, sharing it with people you love is a tremendous source of happiness. The better friends you have the happier you will be. It’s as easy as that. But how can you maximise your chances of developing and maintaining deep friendships for life? I say by being a great friend yourself. Here are some tips on how you can become a better friend.
Pay your debts – without having to be asked
Often when you hang out with people someone will come up with an idea like, “I am hungry, let’s order a pizza. Who is in?” But unfortunately, you have no money whatsoever in your wallet. So either you tell them that you aren’t hungry and, like a hyena, hope to get some leftovers, or you borrow cash.
Many people borrow little amounts like $10 and then just forget about it. Constantly having to ask them for your money is a pain in the ass, – both for you and for your friends – so set an example by writing these little debts down and paying them unasked. Do this even if your friends forget about their debts all the time. You reap what you sow.
Remember events that are important to your friends
I am not just talking about birthdays here. Events that are big to your friend but unimportant to others. E.g, an important exam, a job interview, a surgery, a first date your friend was nervous about, a big match – basically anything that makes your friend stay up at night but everyone else deems “not a big deal”.
Write these events down somewhere and send your friend a supportive text the night before. You can’t imagine how good it feels to know there is someone out there who cares about you.
I know being punctual seems outdated to some. Nowadays everything is more chilled and not as strict. But punctuality is still important. If you are late what you communicate indirectly is, “my time is more important than yours”. You don’t care if your friend had to wait outside in the cold for 15 minutes because you were watching an old episode of Breaking Bad and wanted to see how it ended. Not cool!
Some people claim they just can’t be punctual even though they try. I don’t buy it. Somehow when something important comes up, like boarding a plane on time, everyone suddenly seems to have no problem with punctuality. So if you are honest to each other you will discover that punctuality is merely a matter of caring enough. And if you don’t care enough about a good friend to be there at the arranged time (or at least call that you are running late) it speaks volumes about how much you value the friendship.
Put your actions where your words are
“I’ll be there.” When you speak these words do you stay true to them? Many people don’t. They use their word to get rid of uncomfortable situations like when someone invites you to a party you don’t want to go to. But if you want others to trust you it’s incredibly important to put your actions where your mouth is.
If you arrange to go to the gym with a friend the day after tomorrow at 2 pm, there should be no need for your friend to check back if you haven’t forgotten about it. I don’t know about you, but I want to be remembered as the guy who stayed true to his promises all of his life.
Be there when a friend needs you without expecting anything in return
It comes up seldom, but every now and then a friend will call you up with a request like, “Hey my car broke down in the middle of nowhere and I didn’t know who else to call. Can you pick me up?”
I hope you are the kind of person who gets up immediately, jumps into the car and drives there no matter how far it is.
I specifically remember an event a couple of years ago. My girlfriend Kristina and I moved in together and we had to get rid of two heavy old heavy mattresses. The problem was that we didn’t have access to a car. So we called up a friend who can sometimes borrow a van from work. He came over a couple of hours later, picked up the mattresses and even brought them to the waste dump by his own. It doesn’t sound like much, but I will be forever grateful for what this friend did for us.
It’s when a friend needs us that we have to be there no matter what. This builds bonds for life!
Are you open with your friends?
It’s all too easy to stay on a superficial level with your friends. If you aren’t careful, you will slide into it without even noticing it. But there is an easy solution. Be open with your feelings and show vulnerability. By doing that you will let your friends take part in your life and they will open up to you in return.
Sharing your feelings is the best way I know to maintain an interesting relationship with your friends that doesn’t solely rely on supporting the same sports team, or working out together.
Next time a friend asks you, “How are you?”, don’t just reply with the same old, “I’m doing ok.” Answer truthfully instead, “How are you?”, “To be honest, I feel like shit.”
People who say what they feel, without wasting any thoughts about how it might make them look, are refreshing. It’s easy to have deep conversations with people like that, and it makes it easy for you to share your feelings with them as well.
Don’t just call your old friends when you need a favor
Let’s be honest, most of the advice in this post isn’t new to you. We all know how we could be better friends, but we don’t put the effort in because we are too lazy, or we take our friends for granted.
But if we aren’t careful, we could easily lose some of the most valuable people in our own lives without even noticing that we are drifting apart. That is why I want you to take at least one last thing with you from this post; stay in touch with your friends!
Pick up your phone, or open up Facebook and send an old friend a message. Ask to meet for a beer, or just tell them about what’s going on in your life. Don’t forget to ask about their life as well.
Set a reminder if you know you are catching up too seldom and reserve an evening just for talking and writing with old friends.
I promise you, become a great friend and you will never have a lack of good people in your life.