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Three Ways to make Better Friendships

Are you unintentionally shooting yourself in the foot when it comes to deepening the friendships and acquaintances you have into something more meaningful and supportive? Read on to find out!


2 women hugging with the words "Friendships make us stronger."

 

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"Friendship is the golden thread that ties the heart of all the world."


- John Evelyn


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Most of us live lives filled with people.

We live with kids, spouses, roommates.…


Our phones are filled with names and numbers of family and acquaintances. We go to work or school and see our coworkers and peers. We engage daily with clients and mail people and neighbors.


We head to coffee shops and museums and take-out places and restaurants and bars and movie theaters all full of people.


We have Facebook and Instagram and Twitter accounts also brimming with contacts.



We’re swimming in people & connections.

So why are so many of us quietly, vaguely hungry for more?



Even those of us with a large group of friends aren't immune to feeling a restless discontent with our sense of being connected deeply to others.


We know more people than ever before, and have more ways to connect with them all at our fingertips and yet...


Many of us have lots of friends, but very few people we could rely count on in a pinch, let alone to fully support us in the aftermath of an emotional trauma.

We have relationships that entertain and enthrall us, that amuse... but not nearly as many that nourish, ground and nurture us. That are, as Samuel Johnson said: a sheltering tree.


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And that makes perfect sense when you look at the numbers.


Studies consistently show we make most of our friends based on places where we live, work and play. We tend to find friends in a coworker, a peer in our field, the PTA, or that jogging group or yoga class we regularly show up for.


And the studies also show we primarily see these friends only at those places.


That's probably been true for humans for most of humanity. We meet people where we often show up and live.

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So what's changed?

The pace of our modern lives....



The average American now changes jobs 12 times in their life.

They stay in a job on average 3 to 4 years.

And we relocate about every 5 years.


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Pretty hard to sustain friendships with those numbers, let alone give them the time to naturally deepen into something more meaningful and stable.



So If you don’t have those deep friendships that we all yearn for?


You can let yourself off the hook....

It’s not you, it’s us, as a society.



In fact, you’re probably pretty magnificent at forging new friendships in new places. You've had to be to survive and make friends everywhere you go.


But it takes time to deepen friendships into something more than merely "fun." To get beyond just a good rapport and into the kind of connection and history we can count on.


And the pace of our lives isn't going to slow down anytime soon.

So how do we make this work?


We’re going to have to get good at taking some of our better friendships, the ones we’d like to deepen, and making them location & fast-paced-life proof. Here's 3 ways to do just that!


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1. Get good at making the first move.


Be brave, be vulnerable, and extend the olive branch first. Be willing to be the one to say “I’d like to be better friends with you. We should go do something outside of work, like a movie or something.”


It’s funny how often we assume we’re the only ones in the market for a deeper friendship, or feeling lonely in a crowd, and that everyone else is set.


Don’t fall for that.


Instead, assume the other person is in the exact same market as you, and make the first move to start to take the friendship outside of the location where you usually meet.


And side note: make sure you are consciously making space and time in your life for spending more time with the friends you'd like to get to know more!


  • Then, Invite a coworker friend to lunch.

  • Offer to bring a friend from that jogging group coffee when you meet up next time for that run.

  • Make time to chat with her afterwards, instead of running off to get home to shower and start dinner.


Commit to keep going deeper. Be a little more vulnerable, a little more honest, and most importantly, less “perfect,” each time.



2. Be a competition free zone.


We live in the days of Instagram and social media. And it's become quite common to see our friends as "friendly" competitors.


You know there's another name for that... Frenemies.


Once upon a time I knew a woman who really knew how to charm the pants off people with her warm, friendly attitude. So I was startled when it became painfully obvious that she had no friends.


Until I spent some time with her. She was constantly judging others, and then comparing herself to them. She'd schmooze up a new friend, only to ruin it by cutting them down with a snarky comment when she felt they were getting too big for their britches (ie when she felt threatened by their successes).


Most of us would never do that, and yet how many of us can relate to spending our days comparing our lives, bodies, and successes to our friends.


Nothing can sour the potential of a friendship to go deeper viewing the other person as a competitor. That energy tends to leak out and be felt, even when we never voice it.


This has become maddeningly common these days.


Instead, be the friend who can see what the other person has to offer without feeling threatened or insecure about it. We all have different gifts and attributes, and there's more than enough for us all.


Throw a friend a celebration party for a milestone.

Be the 1st to clap for their success.

Give sincere compliments.


That's the kind of space that builds deep trust and love. Those are the kinds of friendships that stay with us over a big move or a relocation.




3. Be a resource, not a drain.


There's an interesting way that many of us break the ice and make friends, particularly as women, with other women.


We make a self-depreciating comment to a new group of women about having a bad hair day, or we deflect a compliment about our outfit by saying "this old thing." At work we might make friends by complaining about management or our lives.


We bond through our negativity.


And we can get stuck with friendships that are all about complaining, venting, griping or whining, and we never get any deeper.


The negative always ends up depleting us.


Instead make it a point to talk about the good stuff in your lives, to celebrate milestones and birthdays. Have fun going out together. Engage in shared interests you enjoy.


That doesn't mean you can't rely on each other when something bad happens or you do need to talk, but don't make negativity a habit.


Make the time you spend together a source of energy and joy.


If the friendship gives to you each, and brings you more energy than it depletes, you are both far more likely to want to make the effort to keep it regardless of job changes or moving to a new neighborhood.


And those are the three ways to help make your friendships lasting, deep, and supportive despite our busy modern times!


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So in conclusion, Is it impossible to develop deeper friendships and support in our friend groups? Absolutely not! It just takes us refining our skill set, and making more of an effort to take our friendships to the next level.


With that I will see you next week with a brand new blog!

Lots of love and friendship to you,


Desirée Sommer


 

Desirée Sommer is a former Interior Designer, and a current Writer/Speaker who helps people just like you


Style, Beautify and make their lives Fun again!



She happily resides in the rural beauty of Idaho with her pet pooch Bree, where she gets to take epic hikes, and plot her next big adventure/road trip/travel destination.



 


Oh and before you go. I have a gift for you!


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