5 ways to make your friendships last

By: Simone Paget

© Author: Canadian Living Credits: ©


5 ways to make your friendships last

By: Simone Paget
As life becomes more complicated, competing responsibilities -- such as marriage, parenthood, family, work and relocation -- can make staying connected with your close friends challenging.

However, friends are an invaluable part of life. They provide an additional support network and help you get through everyday challenges. Although it can be tough to maintain your friendships when you have a lot going on, the task doesn't have to feel impossible.

We asked Iona Monk, a registered clinical counsellor, couple therapist and founder of Vancouver Couples Counselling, to provide us with some insight on how to maintain lasting friendships in today's busy world.

1. Be flexible
Be open to the fact that your friendships will change and grow over time. "Friendships change over the years and it's important to be flexible and to change with them," says Monk. "It's important to feel securely attached to each other so you can navigate through the waters of change. Marriage, babies and relocations are all things that affect friendships."

Your relationship is much more likely to be long lasting if both you and your friends have the ability to grow as people, accepting and embracing change in the process. "Friendships are fluid, ever-changing entities, and it's important to be able to accept that," Monk advises.

2. Stay committed
Commit to staying connected with your friends even when you are far apart. When it comes to maintaining a long-distance friendship, it's important to share the details of each other's lives so you can stay connected on a closer level.

"Skype and phone calls are excellent ways to maintain a friendship when you are apart," says Monk. "It's also nice to send little gifts to each other in the mail, to show your friends you're thinking of them."

For a long-distance friendship to work, you need to make the commitment to stay in touch. "Make the commitment to speak at the same time every week or month," suggests Monk. "This is your date to connect with your friend and it becomes your special time together. Develop rituals and routines and keep them going," she says.

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3. Be patient with your friends
When a friend goes through a huge life change, such as having a new baby, it may feel like there is no longer any space for your friendship. This can be difficult, but patience is key.

"Ultimately, someone may end up feeling misunderstood and resentful. It is important to realize that your friend has a new priority," explains Monk. "You may feel jealous and angry at first; this will pass over time, but the first year or so will be tough."

It's important not to take the change personally. "Your friend is swamped with a brand new world of feeding, diapers and lack of sleep, and she will not have a lot -- or any -- time for your friendship. Do not take this personally," says Monk. "It's important to be understanding during this time and to help her out where you can."

So what can you do? Spending time with your friend and the new baby -- and doing things to make life easier for her -- is a good place to start, says Monk. Putting your needs on the back burner and helping her out as a friend (babysitting so she can nap, offering to run errands for her or making her a meal) will all be appreciated.

4. Communicate with your friends
When conflict occurs between friends, communication is the only way to move past it in a healthy way. "Being able to speak your mind and let your friend speak hers is important," says Monk.

Stay cool and don't jump the gun by making assumptions about your friend that aren't true -- for example, telling yourself that your friend doesn't care about you.

"Calm down and then communicate with each other. Writing an email or a letter to fully express your feelings is a good idea to ensure you get it all out," Monk advises. "But wait until you are calm to do so. Once something is in writing and the send button is pushed, you can't get it back."

5. Maintain balance
In order to maintain a relationship that's healthy and beneficial to the both of you, it's important to find a balance within the friendship. "Treat the friendship and your friend's feelings with care -- the same way you want to be treated," advises Monk.

Remember that your friend is human and will make mistakes, and so will you. Keep in mind that you love each other and allow for mistakes to happen, Monk says.

Friendships are an important part of our lives. They provide support, perspective and camaraderie. While it might seem hard to maintain these relationships, with patience, healthy communication and an open mind, you can help your friendships thrive despite your hectic daily life.

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5 ways to make your friendships last