Good friends come and go, but the best of friends remain. In the beginning of a friendship, we find shared similarities that bring us closer to someone, making us practically joined at the hip and enriching our lives in so many ways. But more often than not, as time goes on, life gets in the way. Eventually, you might even see less and less of each other or forget to call as often and lend an ear to your bestie. But if there’s a friend you miss and a relationship you want to improve on with someone who means a lot to you, then they are worth the extra effort.
Want to reconnect with an old pal or friend? Whether you came together over similar personalities, tastes in music or simply met when you were in college, your friendship is still there. You just have to know how to make it better. Here are six ways to be a better friend in the new year.
6 Ways to Be a Better Friend in the New Year
Check Up on Them Out of the Blue
With the daily grind of life, it can be challenging to pause and check in on ourselves — let alone other people. But checking in on someone special is one of the best ways to be a better friend. It lets them know you care and lends an ear to someone who might need to vent their troubles. This is especially important for friends who live far away that you may not get to see often. So add a reminder to your calendar and call them or text out of the blue to say hello.
If they seem like they’re feeling down, send them a care package to put a smile on their face. A stuffed animal care package is just the thing, too! Find out their favorite animal and choose a stuffed animal to comfort them and offer security when they need some support.
Send them a stuffed animal hospital care package, complete with a personalized notecard where you can wish them well. They don’t need to be in a hospital or physically sick, either. A GiveAFriend gift donation is made for anyone who could use a little love.
Pick Up Where You Left Off
Some friends are glued at the hip, while others find it hard to connect. If your friendship falls in the latter, don’t hold them accountable or hold a grudge after feeling rejected, which is easy to do. Instead, just pick up where you left off. Even if there has been radio silence for a long time, without a single text or phone call, welcome them back with open arms. A good friend will always be there as someone to lean on.
In the same vein, take the initiative and be the first to reach out to them. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. But that doesn’t mean you should let too much time pass between talks with your friends.
Be in the Present and Listen
When you’re talking or spending time with a friend, be in the present and listen. Whether they want to vent about work or talk about serious matters, it’s important to lend an ear and give them your full and undivided attention. To do so, put down or silence your electronic devices so they don’t become a distraction. Go somewhere quiet where they can speak candidly without judgment from family or maybe even a partner or spouse. They may confide in you specific things to their best friend that they would never reveal to anybody else.
Put Any and All Judgments Aside
As you listen, put away any judgments or preconceived assumptions or ideas you may hold. Even if you don’t share the same general core beliefs, as a friend they feel they can rely on, you want to have empathy for their situation.
It’s also important to not pass judgment on friends for the little things, too. If they need to bail last-minute on a playdate you had set aside to spend together, it’s okay. You know they would do the same for you. And you can always make a rain check instead of writing them off or holding resentment.
Be Honest with Your Friend
Listening is one way to be a better friend. Honesty is something else entirely different. As you lend an ear, try to refrain from interpreting and offering your point of view or suggestions. This can be hard to do, especially since you wish to involve yourself and want to help them.
However, on the flip side, if your friend needs advice, you should always give your honest opinion. Whether it’s your opinion about an unflattering ensemble, the person they began dating or anything else, speak from the heart. Respect their thoughts, but also call it how you see it. Your opinion might even hurt their feelings at first, but in the end, honesty builds trust between friends. Then, they will open up more and always seek you out for guidance.
Celebrate Their Accomplishments (No Matter How Small)
Another way to be a better friend is to be their cheerleader. Whenever they hit a major milestone or accomplish a big goal, help them celebrate. Make a huge deal out of it (even if it’s something small). Sending a congratulations gift or card or taking them out for a treat or dinner at their favorite restaurant is a great way to root for your bestie.
Celebrate big moments like landing their dream job, moving into an apartment, buying their first house or even moving in with their long-time S.O. Whatever it is, a celebration offers encouragement, support and lets them know you always have their back — no matter what!
A true friendship takes patience, loyalty and good listening skills. But to have someone who will always have your back — and you theirs — is more than a friend can ever ask. So remember these six ways to be a better friend so you strengthen your oldest friendships and even make a few new ones.