5 Ways to Bring the Spark back into Your Friendship
At the core of any good relationship lie the seeds of friendship: a space where you can be yourself, quirks are accepted and even loved and weaknesses don't look as scary in the face of acceptance. The dynamics of friendship are a bit like a machine; if you don’t use it, treat it well or repair it when things break down, over time it lies in a corner and gathers dust and rust, and it’s hard to get things going smoothly again. As with almost anything in life that you intend to keep, it needs maintenance. Machines need maintenance, and relationships need care.
Sometimes that is easier said than done, however, because life is complicated: you might not have a lot of time on your hands, you may not know how to reconnect after a long time or you might just not be in the right headspace to focus on the matter. If this is the case with you, a few steps are all it takes to bring the spark back into your friendship and relationships:
1. Show your appreciation. Write a spontaneous thank-you note to your friend or loved one or send a list of reasons why you love hanging out with them. This small act of gratitude will make their day (and yours), get the feel-good hormones rushing through your system and set a positive tone.
2. Make small gestures. Share a picture, joke or meme that reminds you of your loved one to show that they are on your mind. You could also send a video or an article you find interesting and think your friend might enjoy. It’s a great way to start a conversation that isn’t typical or mundane and will be fun to discuss.
3. Do something new together. Research shows that actually doing an activity together (as opposed to just talking) brings people closer together. Find a common hobby or interest, such as hiking or cooking or learning a new skill, and do it together. Shared experience strengthens bonds and adds new dimensions to the relationship.
4. Let there be space. This is an important principle in all relationships: a certain amount of space is healthy. You may love hanging out with your friend or loved one, but constant togetherness can be stifling. Feel free to take some space when you need it without feeling guilty and extend the same courtesy to your loved one without misunderstanding them.
5. Listen attentively. One of the most supportive things you can do as a friend is to listen actively and validate your loved one’s feelings. You don’t need to support every decision in order to support your loved one in a time of need. You can just be by their side and try to understand where they are coming from. This quality of sincere empathy is at the root of good relationships and will make you a better friend.
Cultivating good relationships is an art. It is certainly not always easy and neither are people always predictable, but it is surely worth pursuing because in some way relationships are not like machines at all, they are like lifelines that help us survive and navigate in a complex world which could really use some joy and laughter.
About the Author:
Debanjali Saha is a therapist-in-training who has been writing for Silver Oak Health since May 2016. She has a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology from Montfort College (Bangalore University). Apart from providing counselling services, Debanjali is highly interested in expanding research in the area of Self-Compassion and has conducted several workshops on the topic in and around Bangalore. In 2015, she published her first research paper entitled ‘The Role of Surrender through Self-Compassion among Young Adults in Long-term Relationships’ in the International Journal of Current Research. She is currently working on a 7-day intervention program on cultivating self-compassion as part of her Master's thesis. When she isn’t working, Debanjali enjoys reading, playing with animals, composing music and painting. A personal mission close to her heart is to play an active role in freeing captive killer whales from organizations that use these amazing creatures for popular entertainment.