35 Ways to Create Lasting Friendships

Do you have good friends?

Do you make friends easily or is it hard work?

I’ve collected 35 tips for you on how to create lasting friendships.

Some of the tips are about finding friends, others are about how to deepen a friendship once it’s formed. Finally there are some points on how to repair a friend.

A friend recently said to me:

“What if I were to get convicted of a crime – even if I’m innocent – and get put in jail for ten years. Who would be at the gates when I’m released?”

Could you rely on some of your friends to be there if that happened to you?
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What’s your definition of a friend?

Zen Master John Tarrant says the following  in this book Bring Me the Rhinoceros: And Other Zen Koans That Will Save Your Life

It’s common to feel lonely, to think of yourself as something small and solitary in the vastness of things. It’s easy then to think of a friend as a home territory carved out of that vastness, a kind of living diary for sharing and storing the feelings of the day so that life can go on more or less as usual.

Yet there are other kinds of friendships that don’t just assuage loneliness but undermine it by changing your understanding of who you are.
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Good friends help us to understand who we really are.

To create and enjoy lasting friendships takes effort and skill. Some people make friends easily, but for many of us making and keeping friends isn’t always easy. Here is a list of  35 ways of creating and cultivating lasting friendships.

          1. Know yourself. In order to make friends, we need to know who we are. You may want to check out this article and work out what is special about you. If you are not clear on what your life purpose is, these questions will help you.
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          2. Check whether you really want to have friends. If you’re secretly afraid of people, or don’t trust other, you will find it difficult to make friends.
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          3. Spend time around people. You can’t find people in a cupboard.
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          4. Be kind. Look at what you can do for other to make their life easier.
          5. Be steady and dependable. Be a friend one can count on. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
          6. .Be genuine. Don’t try and be someone you’re not. Friendship is built on honesty.
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            Photo by banoootah_qtr

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          7. .Join groups and pursue activities that you enjoy. You are more likely to find friends who have common interests. ………………………………………………………………………………………………
          8. Become a volunteer. You’ll find people who have a similar set of values which is a great basis for a friendship. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
          9. .Talk to people. You’ll spend a lot of time in groups without making friends if you don’t talk with people
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          10. Make eye contact and smile when you communicate people.
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          11. Be positive. If you only talk negatively about yourself, others, or life in general, people will not enjoy your company.
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          12. Remember names. If you find that difficult, ask the person again until you’ve really got it.
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          13. Initiate a get-together. If you meet someone you like, ask them out for a coffee or arrange another meeting. An easy way to do that is to say something like: A good way to extend yourself is to say: “Well, I’ve got to go, but if you ever want to talk over lunch or coffee or anything like that, let me give you my number/e-mail address.”
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          14. Find common interests. Ask how he or she pursues their interest. Are they a member of a club or society? Express an interest in joining.
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          15. Tell your friend that you enjoy their company. Many friendships are lost because neither person finds the courage to express their interest.
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          16. Beware of sexual flings with friend. Many friedships don’t survive it. ….
          17. Be glad for your friends successes. Be the only person they can tell how well they’re doing.
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          18. Don’t compromise your values. Keep you standards of morality and behaviour and don’t change them just to fit in with friend or a group.
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          19. Don’t gossip. If a new friend hears you revealing personal stories of othere, he or she will be wary of your discretion.
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          20. Ask the other person open-ended questions about their life. Openended questions are ones that can’t be answered  by saying ‘yes’, or ‘no’.
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          21. Share more deeply with a friend. Let them know what your life feels like. This is key difference between a friend and an aquaintance.
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          22. Keep the sharing equal. Don’t hog the time with your problems.
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          23. Have even roles in the relationship. If you notice that you are always the listener and she the star
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          24. Switch roles regularly in your friendships. If there is one who always calls the shots, the friendship won’t last.
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          25. Listen to your friend. Listening is the number one glue of friendships.
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          26. Keep confidences. Nothing kills a budding friendship faster than spilled secrets.. ……………………………..
          27. Allow your friend to help you. Give and take has to be balanced in a friendship. …… ………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………
          28. Share the bad times. Help your friend when things go bad. Allow your friends to help you when times are difficult. ………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
          29. Keep contact. Check in regularly with your friend. A short text message, email or phone call keeps a friendship alive
          30. Don’t crowd your friend. Make sure you don’t overwhelm – or even stalk – him or her.

          31. Share bonding activities. Have some adventures together and play together. To foster longlasting friendships, create common memories
          32. Keep talking through difficult times. Don’t let disagreements fester.
          33. If there is a rift, apologize for the hurt you caused. It’s more important to keep your friendship going than to be ‘right’.

          34. If a friendship is damaging your life or your family relationships, you may need to let it go. This can be a difficult decision. Weigh up how important this friendship is for you against the disturbance it brings into your life.

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As you might have noticed, I haven’t differentiated between offline and online friendships because the rules of friendship seem to me to be the same.
What experiences do you have of online friendships? Please let me know in the comments.
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{ 31 Comments }

  1. A friendship is something very special. It requires respect and honesty.

    A friendship between a man and a woman is especially challenging to maintain without crossing over into romance and sexual relations. The purity of friendship is easily lost this way.

    How does one discriminate between “friends” and “lovers?” Friends are not always meant to be lovers. The lines are blurry aren’t they?

    John

    John Rocheleaus last blog post..Happiness is a Yellow Flower

  2. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi John,
    Hands up who’s ever made a mistake discriminating between ‘friends’ and ‘lovers’!

    I reckon everyone hands will go up :-)

    The difficulty is that the desire to become a lover is so strong in the heat of a steamy moment. It shouts down the quiet voice within that counsels that we should remain friends instead of becoming lovers.

    Anyone else experienced that?

  3. Quite simply, Mary, there is nothing to compare with the support one gets from having a deep friendship.

    To me, a strong friendship is based on trust and being candid and honest with each other.

    When you have this kind of relationship, you can be sure in the knowledge that you have someone who will give you constructive feedback. No matter how much sometimes we’d rather not hear it!

    There are very few things that can beat a firm, solid friendship.

    I have a few and they are critical to my experience of life.

  4. Al at 7P says:

    Hi Mary,

    This is a great list, because it is along the lines of friendship rather than acquaintances or professional contacts. True friendships don’t wither when an inconvenience occurs.

    I think online friends can be very strong and solid, but it can take longer and can be harder to build the level of trust compared to friends in the physical world. Definitely an area to tread carefully on, but it’s definitely doable to find a trustworthy friend online.

    Al at 7Ps last blog post..The Hero with a Thousand Jobs

  5. Mary Jaksch says:

    HI Scott!
    I agree that friendship is one of the great joys of life.

    And sometimes close friends can be obnoxious – especially when they tell you a home truth that everyone else is too chicken to let you know…

  6. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Al,
    I suppose it takes time to trust that the online friend is who he or she truly is in real life.

  7. Avani-Mehta says:

    Hi Mary,

    I loved your article.

    Every relationship has an element of friendship within. I believe true friendship is such that it doesn’t matter when or after how much time you get in touch, you still can talk as if you have been talking everyday. Nothing changes.

    Think about whom can you call in middle of the night and you will know who your friends are.

    Avani-Mehtas last blog post..Living Life Child Like

  8. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Avani-Mehta!
    What a great definition of true friends:
    “Think about whom can you call in middle of the night and you will know who your friends are.”
    Thank you for that!

  9. Mary –

    Friendship is to build a relationship that we cherish for the rest of our life. I had a friend back in India from the early childhood till I came to the States. We both spent so much time together that most people felt that we were brothers. He still will do anything for me and I will never think twice to do anything for him. It’s inexplicable but it is real. That’s is true friendship.

    Shilpan

  10. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Shilpan!
    Thank you for sharing the story of the friend from your childhood.

    It’s wonderful to have friends like that! It’s something that we can rely on in this uncertain journey that is life.

  11. Birgit says:

    Hi Mary,
    thank you for your wonderful blog and for your insightful writing. I thought I will take this opportunity to let you know how truly blessed I feel with the deep friendship we have and to tell you that you make such a difference in my life. Thank you for being my friend and sister.
    With love
    Birgit.

  12. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Birgit!
    Your comment made me cry…

    Good friends turn into family and become sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, dads.

    There is family by blood. But much stronger is family by love.

  13. Ayn Elise says:

    Mary,

    This is a really wonderful post and it contains some real wisdom within that list. I can’s speak to the online friendships, but I can speak to how some of the post points really work together.

    I can say form experience, that the 35th item on the list is very difficult to do. I came to a time in a friendship with someone where a number of things came in to play.

    The very short version is that in the 17 years that we have known each other, that friend has stalwartly remained entrenched in an ever down-wardly-
    spiraling series of damaging and negative relationships. That isn’t a personal value judgment. There are honestly symptoms, signs, and pieces/facts that evidence this a being pretty well out of balance.

    Over time, no matter how hard you try to stay neutral and just caring, some of it ” bleeds ” in to your life. I found that there was very little genuineness and hardly any allowable-honesty left to be found. I didn’t get on a moral/values high-horse, but I had to look for that one little piece of the puzzle where I helped it go on. That was as a bridge from situation to situation.

    Since I do value myself, I had to find that by walking away, that I would be a good friend to myself, too. But, you can still be a good friend to the other person, when/if you might chose to be your own friend, by allowing the possiblity of the their situation to be painful enough for them to grow. While I am not around physically, I am still very much around in empathy.

  14. good people attract good people, i tell myself often, trying to remember all of those i have ever cared for. some of them i call friends even today. i feel grateful for them. see their footprints in the sand. make them smile in my thoughts. my two grandmothers, for instance. they became best friends, however, only after they had passed away. it is probably one of the most wonderful things when you realize some true caring in your relationships. the way someone reaches a hand: a friend, for a minute or a lifetime, perhaps, even beyond that…

  15. Porillion says:

    I think my current difficulties lie in two health or health-related conditions. I have frequent, severe migraines that mean I don’t get to see my friends very often. I also have a problem with my memory which means it takes me too long to recall things friends have previously talked about to keep up in conversation.

    Thank you again, Mary, for an interesting and informative post.

    Porillions last blog post..Tuesday Round-up For Friends

  16. I sincerely appreciate the topic. I recently reconnected with some friends and it felt like my world got larger and warmer.

    I think your list is pretty exhaustive, and knowing yourself certainly belongs at the top. After all, each person needs to bring something to the relationship for it to be worthwhile and sincere.

    I’d also add that you have to not just accept but embrace growth in each other. My “get out of prison” friend is the one who’s let me change and grow without judgement. In turn, I’m able to be happy for her every chance I get. That kind of acceptance is priceless.

    Thanks for helping me appreciate what (and who) I’ve got and inspire me to give them the wonderful treatment they deserve.

    Sara at On Simplicitys last blog post..Teaching Tweens Simplicity

  17. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Sara!
    You raise an important point. We need to accept the growth in our friends. Otherwise we stunt their development.

  18. […] Having 5 close friends is far more important than having 50 acquaintances. – “What if I were to get convicted of a crime – even if I’m innocent – and get put in jail for ten years.  Who would be at the gates when I’m released?” – via Goodlife Zen […]

  19. […] the recent post on the benefits of friendship, I thought this deserved a […]

  20. Graham says:

    Great post!

    I added an item that was implied by the others, but I think deserved a point of its own: Honesty.

    Those friends that I most value are clearly distinguished with this trait. I’d also like to think that it is a virtue for which my friends value me. But I could be way off there!

    Grahams last blog post..35 Tips to Creating Lasting Friendships

  21. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Graham!
    Yes – good point! Honesty is what I treasure in my friends too.

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  23. Kat says:

    Hi Mary,

    A beautiful and inspired post! Sorry I am a smidge late in commenting here, but Iwanted to share my smile from reading it. ; )

    Hug a friend ~

  24. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Kat!
    You are welcome. I’m glad the post brightened your day.

  25. tealeaf says:

    Is the length of time one has been in a friendship a determining factor of how valuable that friendship is?

    If yes, then making friendships last a long time is a worthy goal.

    As for me, I’d rather have a bright friend for a month, than a dull one for life. If anything, having an idiot friend is a curse. If we just get friends because they might help to hook us up with jobs or sex partners, isn’t that a little cheap? Maybe it’s OK. I don’t know, but I don’t think friendships that are used mainly as support networks are satisfying in the long run.

    If friends can keep you safe and comfortable, then, if safety and comfort are the dominant values, it makes a lot of sense to look for lasting friendships.

  26. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hi Tealeaf!
    I’ve got quite a few people in my life whom I know since childhood. Some are true friends – that its, they are interesting and challenging. Others are boring. I can’t imagine cultivating a boring friend for life. Why bore yourself to death?

    On the other hand, real friends of long standing have something that can’t be produced in a bright month of friendship – shared experiences, shared thoughts, shared pain, shared joy. That’s rich and wonderful.

    True friendships are not one-month stands!

  27. tealeaf says:

    Mary,

    You make one point that I accept. Namely, that sharing is a value that is arguably more pronounced in a long-term friendship.

    However, this depends on a lot of factors. One very important factor is how quickly you open up to people. Someone like me, I open up instantly. It doesn’t take me years just to warm up to my innermost core intimacy level. I am ready to share anything and everything about my life with anyone who is sincerely (key word “sincerely”) interested. Since I don’t have a long warm up time, the temporal length of a friendship is not as important to me. But I can see how it can be important if it takes you, say 3 weeks to open up, and if you have a friend for just a month, then you only have 1 week of quality time with your friend. That could be a problem indeed.

    I had some very wonderful friends in my childhood. I mean, amazing. We were like brothers. We went everywhere and did everything together, etc. Then I moved to another country. And my best friend moved to a yet another country. And then my friend wanted to contact me again. And I chose not to pursue it. Why not? A couple of reasons. I think friends are people who spontaneously find themselves side by side on the same path. That rules out a long distance thing to a large degree, at least for me, since that’s not exactly side by side. Secondly, I’m a vastly, vastly changed man since the childhood. The fact that my old self found something interested in the past says absolutely nothing about my new self. So the values we shared are not necessarily shared anymore. They might still be shared, but then again, I also discover I share values with an occasional stranger, and even a street bum. So there is nothing particularly special about my childhood friend in that regard. And third, I like to live my life the way I do and I don’t know what I do, but I know one thing. When I have close friends, they always demand attention and get mighty pissed when I don’t deliver it in a timely and quality manner. Frankly I don’t like that attitude, because to me friendship is when you find yourself walking side by side with someone, spontaneously, without strategy or artifice. It means the other person simply happens to be going in the same direction for a while and you simply happen to be side by side for some time, and there is no need to increase the “side by side” time beyond what spontaneously occurs, even if it occurs only once a month or once every 3 months, for whatever reasons. I am a type of person who can meet once every 3 months and have as deep and as touching a conversation and connection as ever. I don’t need warm ups.

    Anyway, I hope this offers another perspective on friendship. It’s not very good to think of friendship in only one way, your way. You should understand that there are different styles of friendship and they are not shallow or useless.

    I think it’s pretty obvious that if you have a friend, you shouldn’t have to do any extra work to keep that friend. If you do things you’d not naturally do and perform behaviors that are not normal for you, but that are done just for your friend, then you present a skewed face to your friend. It’s a type of artifice. And honesty, or lack of artifice is something I value deeply. But that’s just me. So, basically following guidelines on extending friendships beyond their spontaneously manifesting durations is somewhat insincere to me, since it beings an element of strategy into what should be an innocent relationship. We already plan, plot and scheme enough when we work and do business. We shouldn’t have to do that with our friends as well.

    Just my 2c opinion.

  28. Gene says:

    What a great topic. I used to think i was a loner, but i was blessed with few but lasting friendships that have stood the test of time. And i’m certain that they’ll be there waiting for me when i’m released if i ever was in jail.

    Real friendships are bound by unconditional love. A love that doesn’t simply aim to please, but a love that is not scared to point out the wrong.

    I have to agree, the internet friendships are harder. I ask the same thing…how does it progress? Hopefully, if you do find some sort of answer you’d share it.

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  30. Farnoosh says:

    How funny! I wrote 36 tips on lasting friendships on my last blog post, never expecting so much attention to it. What a dear topic and how all of us can so well relate!!!! (And great photos, I only had photos of gorilla friends!)

  31. ayodeji says:

    This is great. I will like to have moore tips

  32. […] http://goodlifezen.com/2008/08/12/35-ways-to-create-lasting-friendships/ Today, 5:40 am Short URL 35 ways to create lasting friendshipsways to create lasting friendships […]

  33. Eve says:

    what an interesting post! Inspiring and easy to read. love it !
    I have made some friends on internet in the past month. And one is so close and accepting him as a brother! :) And I’m afraid to lose lose that friendship. So searched on ‘how to maintain a long lasting friendship’ and here I am.
    But at the last moment you wrote:
    ”You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned online friends. That’s because this is still an area that I’m exploring. I’ve made some lovely friends on the Internet in the last few months, but I don’t know how such friendships progress and deepen long-term”
    And this was actually what I also want to know.
    But I like this post v.much

    • naturally like your web-site however you have to check the spelling on several of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very bothersome to inform the truth on the other hand I will certainly come again again.

  34. […] to say the least. But more than that, I was heartbroken to lose what I thought was going to be a lasting friendship. This brought up two questions in my mind. First, what took this guy so long to confess the truth […]

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