Friendship matters. Beyond a certain age, you realise that it’s not about having a huge friends circle. All that matters is that you should be happy with your friends irrespective of the number. But it’s no cakewalk. It takes work. On Friendship Day 2023, let us tell you how to maintain friendships.
Health Shots reached out to psychotherapist, life and business coach Dr Chandni Tugnait to get some tips to keep friendships strong.
Reasons why you are struggling to maintain friendships
Do you sometimes wonder “Why do I struggle to maintain friendships?”
Well, friendship is all about mutual understanding, care and commitment. But sometimes maintaining long-term friendships becomes difficult. Here are some reasons why it may happen:
1. Social anxiety or low self-esteem
You may feel insecure around others or worry about being judged, which causes you to withdraw socially, says Dr Tugnait. You may isolate or cancel plans frequently, which will eventually end the relationship.
2. Difficulty with vulnerability
You may have trouble opening up to others emotionally or resisting the vulnerability required for closeness. Past betrayals or disappointments can breed fear of opening up.
3. Intense emotional reactions
You may have intense emotional reactions that strain bonds or cause dramatic shifts in mood that perplex friends. Moodiness, outbursts, hyper-sensitivity can keep friends away from you.
4. Lack of reciprocity
You may be too self-absorbed or demanding in relationships, and fail to reciprocate interest in your friends’ lives.
Select Topics of your interest and let us customize your feed.
5. Competition or jealousy
Comparisons and envy toward friends’ successes can breed resentment and distance.
6. Poor communication skills
Defensiveness during conflicts, failure to express feelings constructively, and lack of listening hamper resolution. You may lack skills for managing conflict, listening empathetically or expressing feelings, which hampers resolving issues.
7. Low commitment
You may have a reluctance to invest time and effort into maintaining friendships consistently. You could be operating from ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality, says the expert.
8. Lifestyle differences
Diverging paths and evolving mismatched interests, priorities or values over time can cause friendships to fade.
Tips to maintain friendships
If you want to maintain strong friendships in adulthood, do the following.
1. Make time for each other
Schedule regular catch-up sessions whether virtually or in-person to dedicate quality time to actively nurture the friendship. Don’t always wait for the convenient time, says Dr Tugnait.
2. Communicate openly
Discuss both the joys and frustrations openly in the relationship. Don’t let little annoyances build up, and be a good listener.
3. Show appreciation
Express how much the friendship means on a regular basis. Send thoughtful gifts or messages. It doesn’t have to be just birthdays or any other special occasion.
4. Follow through on promises
Don’t commit to plans or favours you can’t fulfil. Honour your word to deepen trust, suggests the expert.
5. Allow friendships to evolve
Accept that interests or priorities may shift as you and friends change. Adapt to new phases of life together.
6. Give each other space
Respect each other’s boundaries and need for alone time or space from the friendship occasionally. Time apart can surprisingly strengthen bonds.
7. Put away distractions
Avoid using phone or multi-tasking when together. Be fully present and engaged in whatever you are doing with your friends.
8. Celebrate milestones
Make occasions like birthdays, accomplishments or holidays special. Share and support major life events.
Maintaining long-lasting friendship needs a little effort, but there is so much you can gain from it, especially in stressful times.