Friendships

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.
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Why Can Friendships 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 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.

Physical

Healthy friendships lead to healthy bodies. Research shows that people with good, supportive friends have stronger immunity. If you feel supported by friends this will give you a positive outlook on life and your body in turn releases neuropeptides which boost immunity. Additionally, when you have friends to share your burdens with, this helps lower stress which is good for your overall health.

Emotional

If you have friends that have your back, who support you and build you up, then your self-confidence and self-worth will rise. And if your friends need your support in return, this will give you a strong sense of purpose. This along with the laughter and fun you can have with friends will lead to emotional stability, contentment, and happiness.

Spiritual

As a human you were created to be in community with other people. Therefore, friendship is literally good for the soul. You are not designed to experience life alone. So, nurture your friendships or seek them out if you feel lonely. Friendship is a gift to be grateful for.

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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
• You feel like you’re always giving and they’re always taking.

• Your friendship is characterized by mean jokes, mockery, or excessive sarcasm. 

• You feel like you can’t ask for what you need without upsetting your friend. 

• Spending time with other people leads to jealousy and competition. 

• You feel like you can’t be fully yourself.
Healthy Friendship
• You take turns giving and receiving health, advice, and support.

• You respect and encourage one another.

•  You have healthy boundaries and can speak clearly about when you need help, space, or time to yourself.

•  You are free to spend time with other friends whenever you choose.

• 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.
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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.

SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

God is all about love. It says in the Bible that the greatest command is to love God and the second is to love other people. Friendships are such a gift from God. The Bible says that a “sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” (Proverbs 27:9). So, love others well because in order to have good friends in your life you need to treat others as you would want to be treated. We are told to “encourage and comfort one another and build up one another.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Practice caring for others, and you will never be alone.

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