How To Build Strong Friendships
We all experience significant changes during different stages of life, and our friendships morph and change as we do. As we get older, we more seriously consider how to bring our friends along for our journey, and we do our best to support them in theirs.
Grand and life-altering changes can happen during our twenties and thirties, including marriage, having babies, buying a house, or maybe even upheaving everything to move abroad. Whatever the changes, one major challenge is finding friends who will stick with us along the way.
Four distinct words come to mind when considering how to maintain friendships throughout significant life changes, and they all happen to start with E. May these words and practices serve as a guiding light as you navigate how to build strong friendships!
This beautiful word is an anchor word for gracefully moving through life and communicating with others. When using empathy as a tool in friendships, it serves as a reminder to be present for friends going through life changes. Not only can we share in their emotions, but we can also practice empathizing, even if we've never experienced what they're experiencing.
Empathizing with friends looks different for different people. In my experience, empathy simply means listening, offering support, and creating a feeling of closeness. Alternatively, my friends calling to check in and letting me know they are here for me during transition has been a beautiful practice in seeing empathy at work.
Of course, friendship in general requires effort, but it takes a particularly dedicated practice when friends are going through transitions. During significant life change, take time to lend a hand and offer support. Go the extra mile and check in, ensuring they are doing okay with the transition. For example, if a friend is moving, ask if you can help or offer to throw a housewarming party. If a friend has just had a baby, care for them by offering to bring a soothing meal or sit with them while they breastfeed.
In my experience, I've noticed my friends' efforts when they've gone the extra mile to make me feel loved, whether they show up in person or do something behind the scenes that makes me feel cared for. That small effort goes a long way.
It's not always exciting to watch our friends go through transition. Maybe they are moving away, and we're sad they are leaving, and this makes it hard for us to feel excited. Or maybe they’re getting married to someone we don't approve of (yikes.) The thing about showing up with enthusiasm, regardless of our opinions, is that it gives our friend joy. At the end of the day, it is their life, and if the friendship is truly meaningful, we can be excited for them, even in transition.
This can get tricky if you need to be the voice of reason—a delicate but sometimes necessary role. In general, it's best to lead with love. Be joyful for your loved ones' life changes and offer enthusiasm along the way.
Relationships require physical and mental outpouring of energy to keep them sustained. When we're going through life changes, a lot of energy is directed to transition, and it's easy to forget balance. Remember to save energy for relationships during times of life upheaval.
We must also be conscious of our output so as not to exhaust ourselves. Understanding our personal boundaries and remaining mindful about the energy we give is key. If the transition we're going through is incredibly exhausting or emotionally draining, we can reach out to loved ones, letting them know our energy levels are low. Communication is key. Being honest about how much energy we can give is essential for maintaining friendship through life changes.
These rules are anchors, helping us to understand how to show up for our friends through life changes. Remember, others want us to be happy, as well as involved in our relationships. As we get older, we can learn the best practices for showing up for friends, and we can learn what we need from our relationships as we grow.
Courtney Jay Higgins is the Associate Editor at The Good Trade. She is also a Yoga Instructor, vegetarian, wellness and fashion enthusiast. Originally from Colorado, her soul found California when she came to get her degree in Visual Communications at the Fashion Institute Of Design & Merchandising. She has a background in telling a story through writing, creative direction and content creation. Check out her blog and Instagram for her unique perspective on the mergence of fashion and spirituality.