I always complained to my husband that I never had any close friendships, even in high school. He said that I would make friends with the other school mums when our kids were at school. And let me tell you, that was a long time for me to have to wait.
So I chose not to wait for those friends to appear in my life.
I decided to do things to become closer to the people I already knew.
And now I have a group of about 10 women that I am really great friends with. And a few of those I consider to be my closest friends, including a best friend.
Why is cultivating friendships important?
Strong friendships just make life better.
Good friends provide us with a sense of belonging. Which can be really important when you are trying to find your place in the world.
Healthy relationships also encourage personal growth, by exposing us to a diverse range of viewpoints and experiences.
They give us the harsh truth, they help us lower our stress levels and can often help with our mental health.
And, human connection leads us to a happier life.
Make an effort for deeper friendships
Don’t wait for your friends to make plans with you, be the one to make an effort to organise something. Real friendships are like a two-way street. But sometimes you need to put some extra effort into those meaningful connections.
Making an effort means taking intentional steps like spending time making plans, offering a listening ear and being there during different seasons of everyday life.
Ways you can make an effort with your friends:
- initiate plans
- celebrate their achievements
- remember things they like and don’t like
- compliment them when you can
I’ve found that the more people you try to make plans with, the harder it can be to organise something that suits everyone. With my group of friends, we know that we all have different commitments so we don’t expect each other to be able to do everything. If you can make it, great. If not, no hard feelings.
Show up to create lifelong friendships
Show up when things are great and show up when things aren’t so great. It can be easy to choose not to help your friend through a rough patch, we all have things going on. The best way for me to show up for someone going through something is to think about how I would like my friends to show up for me in the same situation. Whether that’s just my company, financial support, running errands and doing chores or dropping off some prepared meals.
Different ways you can show up for your friends:
- active listening when they talk
- respect their boundaries
- remember important dates like birthdays and anniversaries
- apologise when you mess up
When one of our friends was in hospital after the birth of her second child, we all went to her house. We spent a few hours doing chores so she could come home and focus on her new baby. We spent our time cleaning the bathrooms, vacuuming, and doing loads of laundry and dishes. We even cleaned out the fridge. And I hope it’s not the last time we do this.
Support their dreams for stronger friendships
The easiest way to support someone’s dream, especially if they have their own business, is to buy from, use or promote their business.
You can offer a listening ear for their ideas and ambitions, provide encouragement during both their successes and setbacks, and be a source of motivation when they face challenges.
And sometimes supporting your friend’s dreams means respecting their journey even if you don’t agree with it. At the end of the day, you can still provide a positive influence without being there every step of the way.
Different ways you can support the dreams of your friends
- be their biggest cheerleader
- hold them accountable for what they say they will do
- offer constructive criticism
- present networking opportunities
A friend of mine started her own housekeeping business about 12 months ago, so I hired her to clean my house once a month. She now has several employees and has had to register for Goods and Services Tax. Apart from using her services, it costs nothing to recommend her and like or share her social media posts.
Follow up in meaningful friendships
Following up means remembering something that your amazing friend mentioned and asking how it went.
Take the initiative and reach out through text messages, social media, phone calls, or in person.
Different ways you can follow up with your friends
- recall previous conversations
- check in on how they are doing
- ask about specific events or situations
A few years ago, a friend confided in me that she was seeing a specialist doctor for an issue. So I set a reminder for the day after her appointment to see how she went. She really appreciated that I remembered, even though she didn’t go to the appointment.
Surprise friends for deeper connections
Surprising your friends can add an unexpected touch of joy and thoughtfulness to their lives. It’s going out of your way to do something nice to someone.
It’s a great way to show that you value and appreciate them. A well-thought-out surprise can brighten their day and go a long way in creating lasting friendships.
Become the friend that gives the best gifts.
Different ways you can surprise your friends:
- attend important events like presentations, concerts and graduations
- send a gift or flowers
- send an encouraging text message
- drop off a treat for them
At Christmas last year, I wrote a card for everyone telling them what I like about them and how they have affected my life.
These are all great ways to nurture meaningful relationships, make your special friends feel valued and reinforce the healthy friendships you are trying to build.
Remember, amazing friendships aren’t about perfection, but rather our willingness to show up, be present, and grow together. As you invest in these invaluable yet deep relationships, you discover that the joy of shared laughter, strength in mutual understanding, and comfort in support are the true treasures of a fruitful friendship.