Hopefully you’re enjoying your summer! There’s so much to do and your friends are probably along for the ride. Friendship is a beautiful blessing that‘s often taken for granted. Friendships strengthen and develop with time and intention. As you hang out with your friends this summer, here are some ways to intentionally strengthen your good friendships:
Strong Friendships Need Awareness
You may not be the greatest at bonding. Your friends slip your mind easily but this doesn’t mean you don’t love them. To break this pattern, you need to be aware of your tendencies in friendships. You don’t want to unintentionally isolate a friend because you accidentally took them for granted. A little can go a long way in terms of showing your friends that they mean a lot to you. It could be as simple as checking in on how their summer reading is going, or sending them a snapchat of something that reminded you of that person or tagging them in a #ThrowbackThursday photo. Everyone has different communication styles, but strong friendships look outside themselves. A good friend will be understanding if you’re not great at responding, but return the favor by showing your friends that they’re still valued.
Good Friendships Need Common Ground
Think of a friend, any friend. What moment did you first “click” and realized you were friends? Was it over common ground? Chances are, the answer to this question is “yes”. The importance of common ground doesn’t dwindle as you maintain a friendship. While it’s incredibly important to show investment in your friend’s interest that you may not share; common ground helps maintain a relationship. You don’t have to agree on everything or share all the same interests, but knowing how you two connect is very important. Some of these connections are more serious than others. For instance, one of my close friends, Mimi, and I have a few things in common. Two of the things we have bonded over the strongest is our love of comedy, and that we both lost our father at age 14. Mimi and I are different people and we have different opinions on comedy and we had different experiences in grief, but we still have that common ground.
Friendships Develop Levels
Friendships have different stages and levels of closeness. I am not going to share the same things with someone I have just started hanging out with as I do with my best friend Grace. That’s normal and appropriate. Understanding where you are with your friends helps you not undervalue your relationship as well as move along at an appropriate pace.
My junior year of college I was the stage manager for a musical, and the people involved became some of my closest friends. One bonding moment I had was during a rehearsal where the director asked me to change out the old tabs in her script with new ones. I was very focused, as I gave the tabs to my assistant stage manager to throw away and I placed the new ones in the binder. It was a bigger job than I expected and it was stressing me out because I had other things to do. I turned to my assistant stage manager to ask her something and I saw that she had placed all the stickers on her face. She dryly stated, “I’m Simba” and I lost it laughing. It was a sporadic moment for sure, but it still involved her being aware that I was stressed, common ground of the musical and it brought us to a new level in our friendship.
Bonding sometimes comes naturally, other times with intention, and sometimes both. We would love to hear your bonding stories! Connect with us so we can share your encouragement with others!