Maintaining strong, healthy friendships throughout your life provides many social and health benefits. In addition to companionship, friends can be a source of support during difficult times. Having healthy friendships can help improve your mood, lower your stress level, help you feel cared about and give you a sense of belonging. Similar to other types of relationships, maintaining a healthy friendship takes some time and a little effort.
Make time to see your friends. It may be difficult to juggle the responsibilities and demands of life, such as family, chores and a job, but making time for friends is essential. Talking and spending time together helps you stay in tune with what’s going on in your friend’s life and keeps you connected. Consider having a set day once or twice a month to get together. When schedules are too busy, stay connected through a quick phone call.
Learn to listen. A healthy friendship is a two-way street. Don’t only talk about your own life. Take the time to find out what is going on with your friend. A healthy friendship involves having respect and compassion without being judgmental. Listening to what a friend is really saying and not judging him or her is part of being a good friend.
Know how to set boundaries. Everyone has a different comfort level with what is acceptable in a friendship. Don’t do something which makes you feel uncomfortable. For example, if a friend asks you to lie for him and you find it unacceptable, don’t do it. A healthy friendship should not involve doing things you don’t feel are right.
Avoid turning your friend into your therapist. A healthy friendship can certainly involve giving advice and listening to a person’s problems. That’s partly what friends are for. However, constantly discussing your problems and contacting your friend for advice all the time may become overwhelming. Find a balance by understanding how to lean on a good friend while not expecting her to provide constant therapy.
Disagree without being disrespectful. Even good friends argue or disagree on occasion, but you should not do so with disrespect. Avoid name calling and sarcastic remarks. Listen to your friends point of few and you just may learn something.
- Don’t make things a competition. Being jealous of a friend and always feeling like you are competing, is not healthy for a friendship.