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How to Have Closer Friendships (and Why You Need Them)

“We think about relationships as things that happen to us, but the truth is that we make them happen.”

Dr. Sue Johnson

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

How to Have Closer Friendships (and Why You Need Them)

How to Have Closer Friendships (and Why You Need Them)

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/20/smarter-living/how-to-have-closer-friendships.html

nytimes.com

5

Key Ideas

The need for close friendships

We are social beings and we need to create intimacy with other people, for the well-being of our body, mind, and heart.

Close friendships regulate our emotional distress because in difficult times, being close to someone you feel attachment in a safe way is the most effective way to calm yourself.

Defining closeness

Close friendships need intimacy and reciprocation to exist.
  • Intimacy means being able to be fully yourself and be seen and understood by others.
  • Reciprocation means that both people feel they are seen and understood by the other person. 

Make your friendships closer

  1. Create a foundation of security.
  2. Look your friends in the face and give them your full attention.
  3. Help people understand and accept you. Be honest and stop pretending to be somebody cooler than you are.
  4. Ask for help even when you don’t need it so you’ll feel more comfortable reaching out when you'll know ho they respond to this kind of request.
  5. Accept that closeness varies from person to person. We all need it in different doses.

Elements of secure relationships

The CARP model for secure relationships has 5 elements: 
  • Consistency (Do these friends drift in and out of my life on a whim?)
  • Availability (How available are they to spend time together?)
  • Reliability (Can I count on them if I need something?)
  • Responsiveness (Do they reply to my emails and texts? Do I hear from them on a consistent basis?)
  • Predictability (Can I count on them to act in a certain way?)

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Connecting to people

Don’t be interesting. Be interested.

  • Listen to people and ask them to tell you more. 
  • When they mention something you have in common, point it out.
  • Be enthusiastic and encouraging.

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Keep creating shared experiences

When you see a friend regularly, you develop a collection of shared memories. You will also have an intimate understanding of what they're up to generally. If you're separated long-term, those experiences will shrink.

It's important to create something you share with the other individual, not just exchanging information about past experiences. The more opportunities you give yourself to connect, the more organically you'll get to know your friend's new life.

It's going to take more effort

The idea that you can sustain a friendship and pick up right where you left off after long stretches of silence is a myth. A relationship grows stronger through nurturing.
Although long-distance hacks can work for a time, there's no replacement for in-person interaction. It's more expensive and more of a hassle, but it's the best way to recharge a long-distance friendship.

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Benefits of Friendships

Long-lasting, high-quality friendships lower the chance of chronic illnesses, and mortality rates. They boost one’s happiness and can also be a buffer towards anxiety, stress and even depression.

One can consider looking back and reconnect with a lost but cherished friend for emotional support or to relive the long-forgotten times.

Considering Reviving A Friendship
  • We need to ask ourselves if a certain friendship is even worth resuscitating, or if one of us has moved on to such an extent that we really don’t recognize the person any more.
  • The circumstances of growing apart also matter. If it was betrayal or a falling out, the process of getting back may require reconciliation and may not be easy.
  • People evolve due to the various life events that happen in the course of their lives, like medical issues, marriage, children or a divorce. It’s important to keep one’s guard up, as the person that one gets to meet after years might be a complete stranger in some ways.

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