There really isn’t any other human relationship comparable to the one you share with your best friend. Family members are bound together by genetics (so they don’t always have a lot in common), and romantic relationships carry tumult as the natural byproduct of passion. Best friends, by comparison, are united by a steady, platonic bond that often serves as a secure backdrop against the ups and downs of family and romances. A best friend is a person you can depend on: they are there with you to binge pizza and Netflix after an argument with your partner, and they are also the first person you call after you land a long-awaited promotion at work. And in turn, you get to experience their highs and lows with them. Because of this, we ought to do all we can to preserve these friendships. Let’s look at some of the different habits to make the relationship with your best friend lasting and strong.
Observe and check in
Observation is one of the most important habits in a best friendship. Observation encompasses listening to, watching, and understanding your friend’s behavior and experiences. In a best friendship, you should strive to know your friend so well that you can detect when her behavior changes, and then check in. For instance, if your friend is usually an endless stream of conversation but suddenly she becomes distracted and withdrawn, tell her what you’ve noticed and ask what’s on her mind. This is especially important in periods of time where perhaps you may be experiencing personal hardships. If you are dealing with a difficult life circumstance, it can be easy to lean on your friend and not notice when she, too, may also need attention. Make it a habit to observe your friend, and to check in when she isn’t acting like herself. By integrating active observation into your friendship, you can deepen your knowledge of one another and ensure that your relationship will last for a long time.
Being trustworthy isn’t just about keeping one another’s secrets. Trust also encompasses the way that you respond to the emotions and concerns of your friend. A friend can only feel comfortable confiding in you when she knows that you will not judge or dismiss her feelings. Ask yourself – if someone shares their difficult emotions with me, how do I respond? Do I give them the space to explore their emotions, or do I emit awkwardness, silence, or attempts to change the subject? When your best friend shares her feelings or struggles with you, let her know that it is okay for her to feel this way – even if you think you’d react differently in a similar circumstance. Then, gently ask questions to better understand your friend’s experience. By doing this, your friend will feel validated, and she will feel that you are genuinely invested in her life. A best friendship cannot survive if the friends do not trust each other to accept their emotions.
Seek new experiences to share
Even if you and your best friend are introverts and love spending most of your time together watching reruns of your favorite sitcoms, there are countless ways that you can bring new experiences into your relationship. By making it a habit to experience new things together, your friendship will grow through your responses and engagements with these unique situations. A new experience can be a new avenue of conversation, a new restaurant, walking through a new neighborhood in your city, or signing up for an activity that neither of you have tried. You can learn a lot about another person through their responses to a novel situation – plus, sharing new experiences allows you to build great, shared memories to reinforce your friendship.