Long-lasting friendships are one of life’s greatest gifts. I know it sounds weird to talk about this subject, considering I’m only in my mid-20s, but I feel like I have learned and grew a lot as a person thanks to my friends. In this article, I will share my story and some tips on how to preserve long-lasting friendships.
I met my best friends in school, 18 and 14 years ago. We lived 5 minutes apart, so we grew close quickly. We had been part of a larger group of friends, but we were the only ones who stuck together during the crazy high school years, much to our surprise. The three of us celebrated birthdays together, shared embarrassing stories, stood by each other during breakups, hangovers, and health issues.
Then we moved to different cities for university. We went from seeing each other every day to living miles apart and chatting mainly via social media. The three of us rarely came back to our hometown simultaneously, but we visited when we could, creating new memories. The fact that we are 24 and still close never ceases to amaze me because we never expected to form long-lasting friendships the first time we met.
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How can you preserve long-lasting friendships?
Every relationship is different; therefore, we can hardly talk about a ‘recipe’ here. However, I am willing to share a few tips I discovered over the years by trying – and sometimes failing – to be a decent friend.
1. Long-lasting friendships are built on shared values
Yes, it’s nice to have the same hobbies, like the same bands, or enjoy the same movies, but these are important only when you get to know a person. For a friendship to evolve into something more profound, you need shared values, such as honesty, kindness, etc.
My friends and I couldn’t be more different. We pursued various academic fields – medicine, IT, and psychology. We listen to different types of music, we have different styles, but we respect and support our individual choices. Our distinctive ways of thinking start interesting debates that enrich our knowledge and bring us closer. Sometimes we agree to disagree: long-lasting friendships mean that you can have a mind of your own while still loving your friends.
2. Keeping in touch is the key
If your long-lasting friendships are at a distance, this step is essential. You can’t just see your friend on the street, go for a coffee and catch up, right? Instead, call them for a chit-chat session. Make time for regular online game nights to relax and find out what they’ve been up to at the same time. Don’t be afraid to come as annoying: tell your friends you need to vent and politely ask them if it’s OK for them to do so. Found a funny photo related to an inside joke? Send it to them! It will bring back fun memories, and it could be a great conversation starter.
3. Be honest
Long-lasting friendships offer you a safe space where you can freely speak your mind about personal issues or friendship-related subjects. Don’t be afraid of sounding lame or stupid; your friends love you anyway.
You decide how much you share with others but bear in mind that unspoken words create gaps between you and your loved ones. If you feel hurt, insecure, or need reassurance regarding your relationship, please speak up! Likewise, let your friends know you appreciate them however you see fit: tell them, give them a gift or hug the stuffing out of them.
On the same note, try to listen and understand your friends. Every person has inner struggles we might not know about. An open, warm attitude goes a long way. Most of the time, all you have to do is to be there – just as they have done for you!
4. Be realistic
We all dream of long-lasting friendships that start at kindergarten and last until we’re 100. Still, life is more complicated and messier than that. My friends and I barely talked when we were all caught up in our exams or family-related problems. And yet, when things got sorted out, we caught up with each other, and everything was fine.
I’m saying that you must understand that you can’t be together with your best friends 24/7 forever. You need space to explore, grow, evolve, which sometimes might result in losing touch with each other. The catch here is to put your friends high on your list of priorities. No matter where or how long you wander in life, you must always come back to the most important people for you.
5. Long-lasting friendships are hard work. Put in the effort!
Yes, everybody leads busy lives. Sometimes you don’t feel like hanging out even if you agreed to do that a week ago. Or maybe you just met new people and want to know them better. You have the right to spend some time alone or with other groups – it’s healthy to do so.
Even so, don’t abandon your old friends on a whim! They’ve known you longer and have been there for you when nobody else was. Apologize if you did them wrong, reschedule a meeting or surprise them with a visit. If you can’t meet in person, call them or leave them a message to let them know you’re thinking of them. They will appreciate your effort and will treasure the time spent together.
The more I think about it, the more I believe that long-lasting friendships are the gift that keeps on giving. They enrich our lives, enable us to feel the joy of being close to another person, and gives us the chance to grow up and evolve together.