How to Make or Break a Friendship in 10 Easy Steps
You can't force friendship, but there are ways to deepen these relationships.
Posted Jul 03, 2019
Friendships are key to our emotional well-being. We all need to have a support network that leaves us feeling that we belong and are appreciated for who we are, just as we are. Friendships provide a “family of choice” in that they are voluntary relationships that we create with people we like and who like us.
We are constantly growing and changing and our friendships grow and change, as well. However, not all friendships are durable or flexible enough to grow and shift along with each individual's development. Not every friendship is going to last a lifetime. Some relationships are “seasonal” and reflect who we are and where we are at a particular moment in time and that’s okay.
Remember, too, that disagreements are going to occur in friendships, just like they do in any relationship, but there are some behaviors that are likely to increase conflicts and some behaviors that will decrease them. Choose to engage the ones that strengthen rather than strain your friendship.
How to Break a Friendship in 10 Easy Steps
- Express jealousy or criticism of your friend’s other relationships and friends. This is selfish and also reflects a lack of self-esteem on your part.
- Duck out when a friend is in need. If you can’t be counted on to be there in a pinch, you can’t expect friends to be there for you.
- Break your friend’s confidences. Trust is the hallmark of a healthy relationship. If you abuse the trust that a friend has placed in you, then you are not the type of friend that others will value.
- Don't trust or confide in your friends. Trust is a two-way street and if friends don’t feel that you trust them, they won’t feel that you value their friendship.
- Put down a friend in front of others. Constructive feedback can be highly beneficial, but it’s all about timing.
- Withhold positive regard and empathy. Primary purposes of friendships include the provision of understanding and affiliation. If you’re indifferent to a friend’s feelings or well-being, there’s little point in continuing the friendship.
- Don't stand up for your friends when they’re not around. If you don’t have your friend’s back when they turn their back, you’re not really being much of a friend.
- Neglect to provide emotional support to friends when they need it. One of the primary purposes that friendships serve is support and belonging.
- Nag a friend about behaviors, choices, what you think they should do or what you want them to do, or how they should be or bringing up topics that you know will bring them down.
- Expect your needs to always come first without thinking about what your friend might need in the way of attention or support.
How to Make a Friendship in 10 Easy Steps
- Most important, be yourself from the beginning. Authenticity is essential if you want a healthy relationship.
- Establish clear boundaries at the start as these are essential to all healthy relationships. It’s so much easier to set expectations at the outset of a new relationship than try to reign things in later on.
- Make time early on for talking and meeting up so that the friendship can deepen naturally through shared activities and time spent shooting the breeze.
- Communicate expectations for the friendship early on. If a friend is expecting too much, disclosing too much, or trying to co-opt more time than you have for the friendship, let them know how you’re feeling.
- Have fun with friends and be willing to try out new activities, visit new places, and experience new things. Friends give us the support team we need when we’re taking risks and true friends never mind if you look like a dork the first time you swing a golf club or sing karaoke.
- Really get to know your new friend and share about yourself, too. Friendships are built on mutually deepening self-disclosure. Invite your friend to share about themselves, but always be willing to do the same. One-sided self-disclosure leaves the discloser feeling vulnerable and the non-discloser feeling awkward.
- Mix it up at social events by inviting both new and old friends to get to know one another. There’s always room for one more new friend in our lives, so don’t be afraid to “share” your friends.
- Follow through on your promises and plans. Life can definitely get in the way of the best-laid plans, but do your best to show up when and where you’ve promised or get back to friends when you’ve said you would.
- Keep in touch, whether you live right next door or 2,000 miles apart. Stay current with your friends’ lives and don’t use “busy” as an excuse not to send a quick text when you think of your friend or give a quick call. It matters to the recipient.
- Be there to celebrate new jobs, lottery wins, and lucky breaks. Friends are not only there to support a person when they stumble, but good friends celebrate each others' successes in life too.
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