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Nowadays, everything has become digitized, including friendships. We see people on social media more than we do in real life and we also receive bad news with those we aren’t that close with. Prioritizing healthy friendships keeps your own self confidence and wellbeing in good shape. We often get lost in our phones and forget how valuable in-person friendships are. n this age of difficulty connecting in person, how can we make the first moves to build better and stronger friendships? 

Communicate Often and Honestly

Honesty is so important when it comes to building friendships. If you base a relationship on lies, it will never have a solid foundation. Communicating often and honestly will build one another’s trust and build a lasting relationship. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like their favorite band or food—just be honest. As adults we often fail to properly schedule times to hang out with friends. Set aside time either weekly or biweekly to do something in a positive environment. 

Listen More

Listen to your friends when they talk to you! There are many different types of listening, each one reflecting a different goal. In different situations, it is more important to be empathetic, and sometimes being critical and helping your friends understand things better is more helpful. Put down your phone when you’re hanging out so you can listen more and truly value the time you are sharing together. Another tip is to let them finish their story or what they are saying before you interject to say anything. 

Be Yourself

If you are pretending to be someone else while creating friendships, you aren’t creating authentic ones. Be your silly, wild, calm, whatever-you-are self. Show your true colors at first so they aren’t confused when they try to paint a picture of you later. This can be hard for some people, but take the leap with the next person you meet! 

Hang Out in All Circumstances 

A good way to make real friendships is to encourage people to meet all different sides of you. That means good and bad days. Hang out when you’re still broke and all you can do is stroll in the park and people watch. Help them and let them help you land a job and stay positive. Then, reap the benefits by hanging out while you just got paid and you can treat them to lunch. Spend time together when they are in the same ups and downs you know or have yet to experience. Hang out after you get a promotion. Hang out after you lose a job. As much as it’s important for you to be authentic, some people won’t be in return. In order to build a strong friendship, it’s important to find someone who will accept both the days full of fun and the days full of dread. You want someone that will support you through thick and thin and not abandon you when you need them most. 

Friendships Need Work 

Friendships aren’t maintained by themselves—the effort needs to come from both sides. Take the time to talk, to go out, to laugh, to have tough conversations and to appreciate one another. Little things like remembering someone’s birthday or bringing them a coffee and donut on a special day show that you care about other people’s wellbeing. Practice empathizing with your friends when they have hardships, and they are more likely to reciprocate the gesture. There’s no such thing as a perfect friendship, but there are some tried and true ways to preserve and create healthy relationships with the people in your life. Consider applying some of these practices into your relationships, and you may be surprised at the changes you see.