Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Six Easy Ways to Show Your Friends Some Love

I don't know where I would be without my friends. As I've written before, I have friends from a variety of different stages and places in my life: camp, first hometown, second hometown, temple, summer programs, semester programs, etc. Some live farther away than others, some I've lost touch with and reconnected again, I talk to some more often than others, but all of them are very important to me.

A true friendship is one where both people care enough about each other to put in the effort, and it withstands the tests of time and distance. I try my best to show my friends how much they mean to me whenever I can. Small things like sending cards for birthdays and holidays can make a big difference. I just started subscribing to Glamour Magazine, and there was a great article in the April issue called, "Six Little Ways to Be a Better Friend." (You can read the full article on MSN.) Here is a list of the six things and my thoughts on them:

1) Put her on your to-do list
According to the article, friends are often one of the first things we neglect when life gets busy. I definitely agree. Over the past year of craziness in my life, I definitely haven't made enough time for my friends. But, remember: in this age of technology, a quick text message or e-mail to check in is a great solution until you can find the time to call or meet up. Also, try actually putting your friend's name on your to-do list. It's so crazy, it just might work!

2) Be there in bad times, too
This one really speaks to me. "When her life sucks, you may not know what to say, but you don't need all the right words. Just show up." As someone who has gone through some pretty sucky stuff recently, I can't tell you how important this is. There is a common misconception that when something's wrong you always have to say something about it, but the truth is that not saying anything might be even better. Go out to dinner, watch a funny movie, shop, talk about gossip...just be there. You don't have to say anything, just be there to support your friend, and if she wants to talk about whatever's going on, she will. But, a couple words of advice: when someone's going through a tough time, don't say you'll there for them if you won't follow through. And, just because they don't ask for help or support, doesn't mean they don't need it, in fact, in probably means they need it even more.

3) Don't over-advise
Be careful when sharing your opinion on something. There are times when friends just want you to listen, so don't be too quick to give your advice. If they ask you straight out what you think, then give your honest opinion, but keep their feelings in mind.

4) Accept her weaknesses
We're not perfect, and neither are our friends. Recognize that certain people are better at certain things, and deal with them accordingly. It's okay to have certain friends who you don't share everything with, especially if they're not so good with serious situations. Look for their strengths and the things you have in common that made you friends in the first place instead of dwelling on the negative.

5) Be cash-conscious
The economy sucks, and it's important to realize that some of your friends may be more greatly affected than you are. So, keep that in mind when you make plans. Maybe try having a girls night in instead of a girls night out, or go out earlier so you can take advantage of drink deals. When you're giving gifts, try and find something useful and relevant, but don't focus too much on the price tag.

6) Look out for her--even when she's not looking
Sites like Facebook and MySpace make this one particularly relevant today. One of the examples they give in the article is "tag only flattering pictures of her." Most of us probably don't think twice when we post our weekend pics, but maybe we should. Something may look funny to us, but if we were the one in the picture, would we want it posted for the world to see? And, stand up for your friends. If you hear something bashing them, don't just stand by and say nothing. Wouldn't you want them to do the same for you?

"The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on the porch and swing with, never say a word, and walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you've ever had."

Friendships are relationships. They grow and change with time. If you stop putting in the effort, chances are your friend will too. It's so important to appreciate your friends. Blog about them, give them a Twitter shout out, send them a goofy e-card to make them smile. Thank them for being there for you, and tell them how important they are to you. If not now, when? You never know what tomorrow will bring. Just remember that the little things go a long way.

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