Before I get reprimanded for not realizing the importance of romantic relationships, please understand that I believe that romance is a wonderful and beautiful part of life. However, as a college freshman, I’m not really expecting to find the love of my life anytime soon. So, why is there so much focus on the importance of creating a strong, sustainable romantic relationship, but not much on creating healthy, long-lasting friendships? Why do platonic relationships fall through the cracks?
To me, friendships are the backbones of happy communities. Strong friendships with amazing people can get you through almost anything. So, why do so many magazine articles and clichéd platitudes focus on making your romantic relationships stronger? What about good ol’ girl power?
Galentine’s Day, a concept borne from the fictional mind of Leslie Knope, the protagonist of “Parks and Rec,” came to audiences in a 2010 episode as a way of celebrating “lady friends.” Now, Galentine’s Day has become an actual mini-holiday to celebrate friendships.
In fact, this Galentine’s Day, my friends and I bought boxes of chocolates for each other and watched some classic Netflix. Last Galentine’s Day, my best friend from out-of-town came to visit, and we hiked in the rain before making chocolate-covered strawberries and maple syrup doused waffles. Sure, some may mock Galentine’s Day as another constructed, pointless way for companies to make money, but I believe that Galentine’s Day is attempting to celebrate real, genuine friendship.
I have one exception to my appreciation of Galentine’s Day, and that is that it always goes by in a blur. One day to celebrate the love you have for your friends? No, thank you! Celebrating friendship is an important part of cultivating strong relationships, so why not make a practice of doing so every day?
So often I hear my girlfriends talking about how much effort and time they put into a romantic relationship, a pairing that might not even last a month. Young women are constantly bombarded with “rules” about how to be a good girlfriend.
Instead, I would rather make my own list of what it takes to be a good friend. Rather than giving specifics for how to conduct your relationships, here are some general goals, all of which different friendships can aspire to, but in ways that work for them.
Remember, just as you have hopes for what your romantic relationships can grow into with time, you can have a vision for your friendships as well. Spending time with each other, communicating and showing appreciation will help your friendships not only pass the test of time, but improve as they age.
So, below are signs of healthy relationships that all friends should aspire to, at least to a level with which they’re comfortable. Remember, it’s the idea that matters most, not the way it’s expressed.
Tell Them You Love Them
Text them, call them, spell it out in roses: Whatever the method be, telling your friends how meaningful they are to you lets them know they are an important part of your life. Love is a word that extends past Cinderella love stories, and is just as real and true in friendships.
Also, everybody needs to know they are loved. If you’re not one for saying straight out that you love your friends, write them little notes about why they matter to you to leave with them.
Space Them Out
As in a romantic relationship, taking some alone time is important for the health of the friendship. Being close is amazing, but breathing room is good to allow for growth.
Spending every hour of every day together (or with anyone, for that matter) can be exhausting. Even I get on my nerves if I’m just with myself that time.
“Date” Each Other
Make time for making memories together. Fun friend date activities include (but are not limited to): make spaghetti and top it with a mountain of parmesan; take one of those scary exercise classes where the neon lights almost blind you as you spin; go bowling; go out to the movies; stay in and make a movie on your Snapchat story; go to a park and get on the swings, or read the same book and then discuss.
Forgiveness Is Key
Everybody messes up. Doubtless, when people spend a lot of time with each other, things can go wrong and arguments might pop up.
Yes, sometimes an argument becomes too large to move past, but the majority of fights can be solved with a bit of time, a good talk and a plate of fresh-baked, hand-delivered chocolate chip cookies.
For me, the best part of my friendships is the ability to be 100 percent myself. Friendships in which you feel completely at ease require a huge level of trust.
How to develop trust? Skip the trust fall exercises and be honest in your advice, your problems and speak up about your emotions.