How To make Friends & Build Strong Friendships

Friends are one of life’s greatest joys. But you may find it hard to build strong friendships, or to know what to do when a friendship seems broken by fighting or disagreement.  Don’t give up hope. We’ve helped many people grow and deepen their friendships, and find healing when a friendship goes wrong.

Why Can Friendship Be Difficult?

It’s frustrating and painful when it feels like we can’t make or keep friends. But why is friendship difficult, even if we aren’t being unkind? There are a few common threads we’ve noticed among friendship challenges:

  • Traumatic or Abusive Relationships: If a previous friendship has become a toxic relationship, or if you have experienced physical or emotional abuse from people close to you, trusting new people enough to build a friendship may feel impossible.
  • Sexual Intimacy: Having sex too early after meeting someone can confuse or heighten emotions, making communication far more complicated. Maybe you aren’t sure whether the intimacy will continue, or maybe you feel an inner struggle because you want to go back to being friends, but aren’t sure if you can.
  • Mental Illness: Whether you have struggled with your mental health, or are trying to be supportive of a friend with depression or other mental illness, emotional imbalances can make friendships feel weak or fragile.

What Makes a Friendship Strong?

Most of us have some idea of what we look for in a friendship: shared interests or hobbies, spending quality time together, having ideas or beliefs in common, and so on. But there’s more to keeping a friendship strong when life gets tough than having common ground.

Unhealthy Friendship Healthy Friendship
You feel like you’re always giving and they’re always taking. You take turns giving and receiving health, advice, and support.
Your friendship is characterized by mean jokes, mockery, or excessive sarcasm. You respect and encourage one another.
You feel like you can’t ask for what you need without upsetting your friend. You have healthy boundaries and can speak clearly about when you need help, space, or time to yourself.
Spending time with other people leads to jealousy and competition. You are free to spend time with other friends whenever you choose.
You feel like you can’t be fully yourself. You and your friends accept each other for who you are without pressure to change or hide parts of yourself.

*Adapted from a blog by Dr. Jane Bluestein

Even a close friendship with a best friend can become unhealthy over time. If you see signs of bad health in any of your relationships, it’s time to learn more about where you’ve gone wrong and decide how you can rebuild a healthier friendship.

Getting Help to Rebuild Friendships

We all go through difficulties with our friends. Often the closer we are to someone, the more likely we are to let our guard down, which can cause us to say or do things we may regret. Rebuilding friendships starts with examining how you and your friends make one another feel. If your friendships are draining, taxing, or frustrating, it’s time to take a closer look at what you can change, as well as where you may need more support from your friends. If both people want the best for one another, a friendship can be rejuvenated with joy and gratitude. It’s just a matter of time.

You can find help strengthening friendships at TheHopeLine. Our mentors can offer suggestions via live chat or email support.

To read more about friendship, explore our resources (blogs, ebooks, podcasts and more) by searching our library with questions like:

  • Can Me and My Boyfriend Stay Friends if We Break Up?
  • What Do I Do if My Best Friend and I Are Fighting?
  • How Can I Be a Better Friend to Someone Who’s Hurting?

Most Recent Blogs on Friendship

How Can I Help a Friend Who is Suicidal?

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There have been a few times in my life when someone I care about has called me or met with me and said, “I just don’t think I can go on living anymore.” It’s overwhelming when a friend or loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts. Ultimately, they have to..Read more

Relationship Help: 5 Ways to Set Better Boundaries in Friendships

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Do you ever feel like things aren’t what they used to be in a friendship? Even with close friends, I can sometimes feel exasperated or tired after we talk or spend time together, and I can’t put my finger on why. In those moments, I realize I haven’t been setting..Read more

Faith and Friendship: What To Do if a Friend Loses Faith in God

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When a friend loses faith in God or turns away from their religious community, it can be very painful. It hurts me especially when people in my own church leave during hardships or struggles with their faith. It can be hard to know what to do or how to help,..Read more

Dating Help: Are We Just Friends, Or Is There Something More?

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When getting to know someone as a single person, we often ask ourselves if we’re just friends, or if there is something more. It can be confusing, since you can have warm feelings for someone who wouldn’t be a good fit for you in a relationship. On the other hand,..Read more

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My Best Friend’s Suicide Hurt Me

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I Was Shook By My Best Friend’s Suicide If anyone would have told me that you were going to come and leave so quickly from my life, I would have smacked them and called them a fool.  We made it to 6 months. In those 6 months, you became my..Read more

Jasman’s Story: Self-Harm

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Jasman’s Story: When I was about 7 years old my parents got divorced, but as far back as I can remember they were always fighting and arguing. I started to self-harm when I was 12.  I thought that there was no one out there who cared, knew what I was going..Read more

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Free eBooks

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Free eBook: Understanding a Relationship with God

A guide to understanding the basics of Christianity and a meaningful relationship with God.  Do You Feel Like Life is Meaningless? Are you wondering what your purpose is? Do you have questions about what Christians believe or what it means to be a Christian? At TheHopeLine we believe real and lasting HOPE can only come […]

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Additional Resources

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