5 Ways to Build Deeper Friendships [With Examples]

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So, you’re tired of superficial friendships and want something deeper. Trust me, you are not alone in this one.

There are countless of articles written in the name of growing closer with friends, and now this blog post is written to add to the collective brain.

For those who are still in the process of trying to gain a new friend or two, I’d point you to give this article a read first. Trust me, you’ll find a new friend after reading and trying the tips I’ve laid out for you.

Back to developing deeper friendships.

After working with hundreds of clients, reviewed dozens of research articles, and relying on personal life anecdotes, I present to you 5 ways to build deeper friendships.

Results included. Free of charge.

 

1. Quantity and quality matter.

You know the aged ol’ saying of it’s the quality of relationship, not the quantity. While this theme still holds true, there is something significant to pay attention to about both of these areas.

Quality does seem like a given, yes. Quantity, not in the sense of how many friends, but how many attempts at interactions. A great psychologist calls these “bids.”

Think of it like bidding at an auction, you won’t get anything remotely close that you want unless you’re willing to take some risk and bid, bid, bid.

Okay, so the quantity part was a bit of a stretch, but the more you throw your hook out there you’re bound to catch a few fish.

Not sure if you’re throwing your hook in the healthiest of ponds? Give this a read for what to look for in healthy relationships.

2. Take and give expectations.

With each relationship you wish to go deeper with, there’s a process of reciprocity that does need to happen. Think of this as give and take.

The phrase “it’s a tango” is exactly what we are talking about here: sometimes you lead and sometimes your friend leads. 

To take and give expectations can mean sharing what you need and negotiating with what your friend may need. If we do not verbalize these expectations, we are cutting ourselves short.

If you struggle with reading feelings, share that you have this going on so they can readjust their expectations and work from there.

Before we can get there though, it’s going to require taking a deeper dive within yourself first. Yes, before highlighting what you expect out of a relationship, we’ve got to understand what you will and will not allow.

 

Boundary making people.

Here are a few steps you can take to get there:

  1. List out things that happened in past relationships that you no longer want to continue in newer friendships.
  2. List out things that you are looking for in a friendship. (click on the link in tip #1 to help you get started)
  3. Practice assertiveness skills even if you think the other party won’t go past your boundaries. Such as learning how to say “no” with confidence.

3. Being present matters.

Friendship is a place to spend time to develop. When we are not present due to being stuck in the past or the near future, it’s difficult to develop much.

This is the importance of being present. Which is why you’re going to hear it more and more you read my posts.

Being present is a superpower.

The moment you have an easier time to be present, is the moment you can truly live again.

 

Think about it.

Imagine being with a friend you want a closer relationship with and all you can do is think about how dirty you’ve been dealt with by others in your past.

It’s good to recall what you don’t want, but residing there is the issue we’re talking about. 

If you’ve got trouble staying present due to clinging on to what once was in the past. Here are some tips:

 

  1. Picture yourself holding a block in your left hand that says “the past” and a block in the right hand that says “the present.” Your hands represent concentration. Then, ask yourself, which block are you willing to drop in order to carry the other one with both hands.
  2. Request that your friends check in with you every now and then while hanging out. Let them ask you, “Hey, are you hear with me right now?” as a way to see if being present is the issue of getting deeper.

Others struggle with the idea of being present due to the future, or what others call “anxiety.” It’s hard to have anxiety of the past because it’s dealt with already.

But, if your worries and fear or panic get the best of your present time with friends, here are some tips:

 

  1. Again, picture yourself holding those blocks and change “the past” to “the future” and see where you place your concentration on more: the present or the future. Then imagine dropping the least important one for the time being with your friend.
  2.  Again, request that your friends check in with you.
 

4. Rid the cliches.

“I want a friend who will always be there for me, 24/7.”

“Someone who will drop everything for me.”

“A person who would take a bullet for me.”

Now having someone “do things for me” is not a bad thing. That’s the point of ‘bids’ and reciprocity; however, cliches tend to lean toward unrealistic expectations.

And if we plant these onto those we meet, chances are those friendships will burnout quite quickly.

Yes, this may seem like a deal breaker for some, but well worth it in the long run.

You’re probably wondering then, “Now what?”

 

The answer: tone down certain expectations.

 

No. I did not say to get rid of expectations in friendship, but to attempt in finding a healthy balance.

Let’s use the first three quotes mentioned earlier as examples:

 

Unrealistic: “I want a friend who will always be there for me.”

Realistic: “I want a friend who will try to be there for me when they can.”

 

Unrealistic: “Someone who will drop everything for me.”

Realistic: “Someone who will show me flexibility sometimes.”

 

Unrealistic: “A person who would take a bullet for me.”

Realistic: “A person who will make sacrifices when they can.”

 

 

It’s not the prettiest process, but these realistic statements seem more doable in friendship than what was stated earlier.

I encourage you to write out some expectations you have in your current friendships and fine-tune them to benefit both you and others near you.

 

5. Friendship is unnatural.

I’ll repeat. Friendship is an unnatural process.

Why? Think about this for a second.

How well do you know yourself? With your changing thoughts, feelings, and even in the way you behave.

They say humans make at least 35,000+ decisions a day, whether or not they realize it.

That’s a lot of decision making. That’s a lot of opportunity for change.

With this in mind, each decision we make can steer us in a new direction as we develop ourselves.

 

 

And adding a second person a part of this process can make this complicated aka friendship.

 

 

No, this is not an attempt in saying that friendship is in a league of its own and that you should give up.

Absolutely not! I’m advocating for the opposite to happen.

What I am trying to share is that if friendship was natural, it would be, well… natural. Easy going. Smooth sailing.

But, it can be anything but that.

Friendship, and going deeper with intimacy, will require work. Diligence. Discipline. Trust. And so much more than what this single post can cover.

And once these ingredients are agreed upon by both parties, are active, practiced and have regular upkeep, friendships can go deeper than ever before.

 

 

There you have it. Five ways to build deeper friendships with others.

Remember to start small. Perhaps, with a friend you have in mind right as you’re reading this right now.

And if you’re interested in other articles dedicated to friendship, I suggest you give these a look:

50 Actionable Ways to Make Friends

8 Signs You’re in a Mentally Healthy Relationship

 

Jacob Kountz

Jacob Kountz

Jacob is currently an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist in Bakersfield, Ca.

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