How many friends do you have on Facebook? Hold on, let me rephrase that. How many genuine friends do you have on Facebook? If we took time to inspect our friends’ list, only 3 to 5% are the real deal. It’s one thing to find good friends, and it’s another thing to keep them.
Our family used to move a lot when I was young. Despite this, making friends was simple. I’d meet them at a sari-sari store, watch them play in the streets or in school. I remember spending more time with my neighborhood friends than schoolmates in my elementary days. But when I became a teenager, I enjoyed the company of my classmates more than my neighbors. After 30 years, I am still close with my high school best friend and other batch mates.
It is challenging to maintain lasting friendships as adults because life happens. We spend our time making a living and managing our families that making connections is no longer a priority. I realized I need friends, not a lot, just a few people to be part of my life. Now, how to maintain lasting friendships?
Make an effort to reach out
You don’t have to get all chatty at once. Start with a text message asking how she is, or that you remembered her today. Don’t forget to greet her on her birthday or wedding anniversary. If you are on Facebook, I am sure you see that in your newsfeed.
Pay attention. In the past, I’d notice some friends who are not as active on social media. I’d send them a private message asking how they are. Some would respond and some would not, and I don’t take it against them. I show my concern, but I don’t want to appear nosy. We need to respect other people’s boundaries. A genuine friend will understand that and that’s how to maintain lasting friendships.
Schedule (online) meetups
We are all exhausted about this lockdown. It’s been a year and we are worse than when we started. So we hold off having lunch or coffee with our girlfriends because it is not safe. Thanks to Zoom and other video conferencing platforms, we can still keep in touch with our dear friends. We can connect with anytime if we want to.
Set up an online get together with a few of your closest friends. Respect each other’s season in life and consider everyone’s schedule. What’s so great about online meeting with friends is the absence of formalities. Unlike work or bible study meetings, online meeting with friends can be fun. You can even have coffee or lunch together. Let’s keep connecting!
Appreciate their gesture
Let’s admit it. There are days are schedules are impossible to deal with and we forget to respond to a friend’s call or text message. Some days we get back at them after 3 days or not get back at all. They are our friends, they will understand. If we forget, the least we could do is respond even after a week of unintentionally seen zoning them.
Thank them too for the times they prayed for you and showed concern. Appreciate their support for your cause or business. Have an attitude of gratitude to maintain friendships. Celebrate her wins and comfort her pain.
Forgive each other’s faults
Colossians 3:13 tells us to
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.“
In any hurting relationship, we can either be the victim or the offender. When we were children, it was easy to patch up with friends when we hurt each other. We keep quiet for a while, a few minutes later we will play again. Maintaining adult friendships costs us our pride because we have to forgive or ask for forgiveness.
I know what’s like to be the victim and the offender. When you are the hurt party, you can choose to withhold forgiveness or not. I have forgiven some people who hurt me, but we don’t have a connection anymore. Maybe because I’m still hurting or it’s really ‘friendship over’. Only God knows why.
When I realized I offended a friend in the past, I was too proud to admit it. Later on I saw how it affected her and that I need to ask for forgiveness. She accepted my apology by God’s grace. We are not as close as we used to, but I know this friend is special to me. I make it a point to reach out as often as I can and she does too. One true test of friendship is our ability to forgive one another.
Just show up
My friendship with my high school best friend stood the test of time. After high school, we went to different schools and gained new friends. We kept our communication lines open through letter-writing. I made sure I was present on all her birthdays. Sometimes I’d feel awkward because she had other friends, but her mom and older sister made me feel welcome. My BFF thanked me every time I drop by to celebrate her birthday.
When she got married, I was there. She lived a new life with her family and settled in the US. She is a nurse and works long hours. So we lost touch for a while but reunited again thanks to the Internet. When I told her I was getting married in 2002, she made sure she would be in Manila for my wedding. I was so happy to have her as my Matron of Honor.
Like any balikbayan, my BFF meets her family and friends when she is in Manila. Despite her brief vacation, she always sets aside time to meet me. And I appreciate this a lot that is why I adjust my schedule for her too.
The older we get, the smaller our meaningful connections are. We accept that not everyone we meet stays in our lives forever. Some will go and others will stay. We keep those who stayed close to our hearts. Carlin Flora, the author of Friendfluence: The Surprising Way Friends Make Us Who We Are, says,
“If you can find the time to binge-watch TV shows and check Facebook a million times a day, you can make time for your friends.”
When was the last time you reached out to your friend? How do you maintain lasting friendships?