Developing strong friendships in adulthood can be a daunting task. As a child, you may have had natural opportunities to make friends through school, sports, or other community activities. Often as busy adults with spouses and children, households to manage, and careers to advance, forging strong friendships needs to be a much more intentional process.
However, making the effort to foster such friendships has a great deal of benefits. Strong friendships can create a sense of community and purpose, increase happiness, lower stress, boost self-esteem, encourage progress, and offer a network of support in times of distress.
Below are five key components to cultivating friendships strong enough to last a lifetime.
- Strong friendship is founded on trust, transparency, and dependability. These qualities are a process to develop within any relationship. Moreover, they often require some level of courage. After all, to share who you are, shortcomings and all, opens you up to rejection. Choosing to come alongside a friend on their worst days does the same. Because of this, while you might have dozens of casual acquaintances, there are probably only a few friends worthy of the intentional investment it takes to make deeper connections. A mind set on strong friendships will value quality over quantity.
- Strong friendship requires a level of selflessness. In any relationship, you must be willing to be inconvenienced on occasion, to change plans or spend energy aiding your friend in their need. That might look like answering late night phone calls, giving up a Saturday to help move, or dropping off soup when they are ill.
- Strong friendship is based on respect and understanding. As you seek to be a support to your friend, (s)he should do the same. When issues come up, it is important both parties take time to communicate clearly and to consider one another’s perspective. Healthy friendships don’t allow room for grudges; they challenge each person to demonstrate humility, forgiveness, and greater understanding of each person’s individuality.
- Strong friendship can and should flourish amidst adversity. In the moments of personal pain, loss, and tragedy, choosing to reach out for support-or responding to your friend facing the afflictions- furthers an environment of vulnerability, connection, and security.
- Strong friendship encourages growth. A casual friend might not make the effort to help you to develop better habits or address issues, but a strong friendship allows for difficult conversations and calls to change. Rather than hiding flaws or overlooking them, these friends can openly discuss hot button topics and challenge one another to reach higher grounds physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Do you have any strong friendships to rely on in the good times and the bad? If not, it might be time to consider developing deeper relationships in your social circles. Is your marriage this type of friendship? Sometimes we forget to prioritize the friendship aspect of marriage. Nurturing companionship in marriage can reframe your perspective and cultivate more intimacy.
Whether you prioritize your friendships in social circles or marriage or both, it's worth it! You have a great deal to offer and an even greater deal to gain from the experience!