- Build your community of at least five friends. Choose friends that you trust and can share the important stuff of your life. Join a group or community of friends if these relationships are not already in place. It may take time to put together your network but your health and happiness hinge upon these vital connections.
- Reach out to your friend rather than hoping that certain people will include you or reach out to you first. Make dates and plans together and stick to those commitments.
- Listen actively and deeply to the words and nonverbal communication that your friend conveys. Consider “tone over content” matters most. Check out with her to make sure you understand what is being communicated.
- Surround yourself with friends make you happy. More often than not you feel a sense of joy after spending time together. If you consistently feel let down after an encounter, reassess the importance you wish to give to this friendship. This is about valuing your own time and preserving your emotional well-being.
- Create rituals. Girls night out, periodic outings, dinner or lunch dates are great ways to spend time together. Celebrate each other’s life passages is another way of building a deeper sense of connection and fun into your life.
- Be patient with your friends. Listen even when the conversation doesn’t grab your interest. Allow yourself to attend to what is important to her and trust that she will offer the same kindness in turn.
- Be quick to forgive and assume the best. Keep in mind that we are all imperfect. It’s better to err on the side of generosity and forgive. This is best for your own health and fosters the relationship.
- Savor time with friends. Stop the texting or glancing at your phone and devote your complete attention. This will make your friend feel cared for and you better able to listen authentically
- Celebrate each other’s accomplishments. We tend to rush to the aid of friends around losses and hardship. Sharing successes with your friends strengthens your bond happiness factor.
- Be compassionate. Practice loving-kindness. Keep an open mind about how the relationships should go. Be present for whatever comes up. Writing the script for any friendship limits its potential.
The unique bonds that women establish together often run deep and can outlast relationships with partners. There is no manual for how to navigate through these sometimes complex relationships. Friendships require our time and commitment in order for us to thrive throughout the life cycle.
What are doing to fortify your friendships?