The Friendship Doctor

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On Friendship Day–2014

Maybe there is something actionable you can do before the end of the day.

In 1935, the U.S. Congress proclaimed the first Sunday in August each year as Friendship Day. This year Friendship Day is on on August 3, 2014.

Unlike Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, or Christmas, holidays that have become highly commercialized, there are no expectations of gifts, cards, or flowers for this holiday. Most people probably haven't heard of it, so if you choose you can act as if it is just another Sunday. On the other hand, you can decide to set aside time to celebrate the friendships that enrich your life.

With the hectic pace of our lives, it's too easy to take friendships, even very good ones, for granted. One idea for a lazy Sunday or to take time out from a busy one: Use Friendship Day as an excuse to rethink and realign your friendship priorities. It's easy to get sucked into spending your time with a needy friend who constantly seeks out your companionship but consistently drains your energy, or with a toxic friend who is filled with ambivalence but conveniently lives next door. Consciously choose the friends you want to spend time with and nurture the relationships that matter most.

Think about the friendships you really cherish and find a fitting way of your choice to celebrate the day:

1)  Say it in words. Call her or write her a card, note or email telling her just how much her friendship means to you.

2)  Remind her visually. Send her a photo of a wonderful time you had together in the past and tell her how happy it makes you feel that you're still friends after all those years.

3)  Give her the gift of time. Instead of continually saying, "We have to get together," make concrete plans. Get out your electronic calendar or datebook and set a time when you can spend quality time together---even if it's just over a cup of coffee.

4)  Plan a getaway or trip together. Perhaps you've both been busy and haven't seen each other for a while. Your lives have diverged yet you still feel like you're kindred spirits. Make a relaxed spa date or commit to a weekend when you have uninterrupted time to make new memories.

5)  Weave her into the fabric of your life. If she's single and you're married with children, invite her to join one or more of your family traditions. If you think she might enjoy the company of another close friend of yours, introduce them to each other. Introduce her to your mother, sister or cousin.

6)  Suggest you both read the same book or go to a movie so you can talk about it afterwards. It can be a great springboard for discussing feelings and values.

7)  If something has recently gotten in the way of your friendship and you believe you may have been at fault, don't be too big to apologize. Get together and let her know you feel badly about what you said or did, and want to get over it.

It is a privilege for me to be able to respond to your questions and dilemmas about friendship on this blog. Sometimes, relationships are confusing because ---to me too! Like any advice columnist who hears a snippet of your problem, I may not always hit the mark but I hope that my posts give you some food for thought.

Happy Friendship Day,
Irene
The Friendship Doctor

This post is an update of prior posts that have previously appeared on The Friendship Blog.

Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Her latest book is Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend.

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