November 21, 2020
My friends today might find this shocking but I wasn’t a great friend before I met my husband, Alex. I was socially awkward, distant, and aloof. I struggled with building strong lasting friendships. Let’s put it to you this way I was only a bridesmaid in one wedding and that was for my sister. (Obligatory maid of honor position) There are a few habits I picked up from Alex who is a master at making and keeping friends!
“Friendship is like a bank account. You can only withdraw what you have deposited.”
Alex has a habit of reaching out to his friends. When he thinks about them he sends a text or calls. He doesn’t wait for an opportune time because he knows he will forget. Even if it has been awhile he braves the awkwardness. This one habit has helped him maintain friendships for decades. He proactively communicates with his friends. He also interacts with their social media feeds. He doesn’t just “like” their posts. He comments so they know he loves what they are up to. This is the lowest level of reaching out though. If you want to be a real friend you must communicate directly with them.
Not sure what to say? Here are a few go to phrases that I use just to let someone know I’m thinking about them.
“Hey, I thought about you this morning. How are things?”
“I feel like it’s been ages since I have seen you. Can we grab a coffee in the next few weeks?”
“I saw your post, loved it! Would love to hear more about it when you have a minute.”
“Miss you friend.”
Be responsive and answer the phone.
The second part of communicating is responding. When a friend sends you a message, reply right away. There is nothing more annoying than sending an invite and hearing nothing. A quick, “Sounds like fun, let me check my calendar.” is perfect. Or if it is just a nice message send an appropriate emoji. Responsiveness also calls for you to pick up the phone when someone calls you. I was the worst at picking up the phone when anyone called. I waited to see what they wanted before I called them back. Alex picks up the phone everytime no matter whether he recognizes the number or not. This habit makes your friends feel important.
Invite them to be part of your life.
Alex is incredibly invitational and includes people in the things he loves to do. I always worried whether someone would want to do the stuff I was doing so I didn’t invite them. Rather than be rejected I withheld the invitation. What I have learned is that MOST people will come along just to be with you and have something interesting to do. Creating a habit of inviting people to do life with you helps build stronger friendships. Shared experiences create a pattern and culture of doing life together. Inviting people to do stuff with me is still the hardest habit for me…but I am getting better.
Alex is one of the best encouragers I have ever met. He has helped me continue to pursue my dreams when I felt my lowest. He champions his friends’ dreams and goals. He listens carefully to their ideas and gives honest feedback but ultimately encourages them to go for it. He is genuine in his encouragement which is why it is so powerful. The habit of lifting up your friends is key in building solid and lasting relationships. An encouraging friend can help us keep going when we want to give up.
It goes without saying that friendship should be fun. However, some friendships are taxing, hard, and draining? It’s time to set boundaries and choose friends that you enjoy spending time with. Life is too short to waste time with people that are boring, sad, and cranky. Alex doesn’t spend time with people he cannot have a good time with. That’s not to say we haven’t had experienced tear-filled evenings with friends going through tough times, it just means that those are not the norm. We, like most people, prioritize hanging out with friends that are fun.
Alex is a fabulous friend. I am eternally grateful that he has helped me become a better friend. I attribute my incredible friendships with my girlfriends now to the habits he has shown me. I am a proactive friend and reach out when I think of someone. I try to respond to text messages and phone calls. I’m working on including people in the events and activities I like to do. Alex and I cheer for our friends and celebrate their victories. Because we have healthy friendships we laugh, cry, play games, talk politics, and everything in between. Friends are what make life enjoyable so choose some good peeps and practice these habits to build and maintain these life-giving relationships. Which of these habits is hardest for you?