There's no secret recipe for a beautiful friendship, and there's no surefire way to make sure all of your relationships last a lifetime. However, there are a few key things you could be doing - or not doing - that greatly affect the relationships you are in right now. Whether it be with a distant sibling or a close crush, here are a few things you can do to seal the deal and grow closer to those you love.
The best way to attract new friends and keep old ones is to stay happy. Yes, life has its curve balls and it's too easy to complain, but think of the most fun people to be around and odds are they are pretty happy. Those who have that brighter outlook on life are just contagious and exciting. Try to be like that.
This may be the biggest one out of them all. You can't sit by the phone waiting for that old friend from high school to call you up. Nor can you send a quick Facebook message to make up for forgetting about your friend for weeks. Relationships require action on both parts. If your sibling doesn't want to talk, you make the first move.
It's important in good conversations to ask questions and be genuinely interested in the other person's answers. It is all too obvious when someone enjoys talking too much or too little about themselves. To keep these relationships healthy, ask more than the simple "how are you" questions. Be involved without becoming an interviewer. One tradition a close friend and I share is to ask each other how our emotional, spiritual, and physical well beings are doing. We call it esp and we give a numerical rating on each category. For example, my esp today is 8-9-8, which corresponds with each category. This is a quick way to catch up with someone and figure out where they are in life. It has really brought us closer as friends.
This one goes right along with action, but the healthiest relationships are those that actually have face-to-face, physical interaction. Even going out to lunch or going on a walk can count. When you actually do something with your friend, there is a closer connection built. You can't hide behind the computer screen forever. There came a time with my group of friends where everyone was OK to lounge around on the couch, but we soon realized that doing nothing means feeling nothing. Even pulling out a silly board game or card game means more than sitting like a potato.
Challenge each other
Sometimes the best relationships are those where both people learn and grow from each other. While it is great to have that chatty lunch buddy who you can talk about simple things with, you also need to have a few close relationships where you can talk about bigger ideas and challenge each other without arguing.
In fact, just don't do it. Relationships that are built on talking about other people are not real relationships. It's easy to find a common bond with someone who is negative or demeaning, so stay away. Don't chip in to catty conversations or perpetuate a friendship based on gossiping about others.
Try to find a favorite restaurant or game that you can enjoy together. The relationship that has a favorite discount store to shop at will thrive much longer than the relationship that criticizes the new outfit Susie is wearing. The best traditions I share with my friends are movie nights and frozen yogurt runs. We often choose a low-key movie that doesn't require too much focus so we can chat and laugh in between, and we always revisit the classics.
Whatever your relationships are, they can always be better. Take the extra time to write that letter, attend that concert, or call that friend. You have nothing to lose. Repair old wounds because time here is short. Healthy relationships are a bit of work and sacrifice, but it will be worth it.
Jenna Koford is on the content team at FamilyShare. She graduated with a degree in Communications—Journalism and a minor in editing. Jenna enjoys painting and calligraphy, planning a wedding, and Pinterest and Netflix.