No one wants a one-way friendship, although it happens to all of us at one time or another. Remember how hurt and taken advantage of you may have felt when that happened to you? Certainly you always want to be a better friend than that. There are many ways to do it, but you can begin by checking out the following 9 ways to be a better friend.
1. Love Yourself First
Often, it's impossible to be a good friend to other people if you can't be a good friend to yourself as well. It's true that you have to love yourself before you can love someone else, and that goes for your friends as well. To begin being a better friend, you need to start by liking yourself too.
2. Make Smart Choices
There are some people out there who just can't be good friends, no matter how hard you try. Every friendship requires energy, patience, and time. You have to choose to be friends with people who are going to put the same amount of effort into the friendship that you are. I recently broke up with my BFF because over the course of a year, it became painfully clear that he was no longer willing to do that. Everything was all about him, all the time, and the energy and resources I put into making him feel better about his life were starting to negatively affect all aspects of my life. Not cool! Sometimes you have to cut your losses.
3. Make Time
As stated, every friendship takes time. One way to be a better friend means making sure that you're willing to give time to your friends. That doesn't mean just showing up and being there when they are in crisis. You have to be a friend through the good times, the bad times, and the neutral times.
4. Be Proactive
Sometimes it's up to you to make the first move, whether you're trying to make a new friend or approaching a current one. This is hard for me. I have this constant complex about bothering people, so I won't email, IM, or call first, because I don't want to bug them. It's important to just bite the bullet and follow up; your friends will tell you if they're busy.
5. Do Unto Others
The Golden Rule works in a lot of situations, but it's especially important in friendships. This is where my erstwhile BFF failed, and he hurt a lot of people in the process, not just me. You really do have to treat people the way you want to be treated – especially your friends. If you're a bad friend, you can't expect better.
6. Pay It Forward
What I mean by this is that it's important to treat your friends to acts of kindnesses, both small and large. That will make then feel important and significant to you. They'll know that you care, that you're thinking of them. Whether it's involves complimenting a girlfriend on her new hairstyle or sending her flowers when she's feeling down, this means a lot.
7. Listen Closely
The best friendships are based on listening – to what is said and to what is not said. You have to listen to all those unspoken things as well. When you're with your friends, make sure you ask questions, that you don't interrupt, and that you don't give any advice unless it's good advice. Harmful advice, even when it's given with the best of intentions, can be bad for any friendship.
8. Be Understanding
Sometimes your friends may have problems that you don't consider important – and you can rest assured that they feel the same way about yours. You need to remember that people are affected by different things, and that's okay. You don't have to agree, you simply have to be as understanding as possible.
9. Be Loyal
Female friendships, especially, depend on loyalty. You have to be true to your friends and loyal to them. There are certain things you don't do, like dating a friend's ex, but this goes deeper than that. By being true to your girlfriends, you are also being true to yourself.
You can be a better friend in a number of ways. Every friendship is different, these just represent some of the ways to be a better friend. How do you nurture your friendships?
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