How To Cultivate Your Relationships

Relationships are one of the key areas that can truly make or break us, friendships in particular are one of the areas that many of us struggle with. Whether it’s a friendship ending, making new friends or feeling that the friends that we currently have are not being the friends that we desire them to be to us, this can be such a painful part of life that we are not always open and honest about.  

Recently I have found many envying the friendship circles of others or experiencing a deep longing for true and transparent relationships. Many feel that the key is building new friendships or finding themselves a better bunch of people to be around. Below I make some suggestions, encouraging you not to throw out your current circle, but to cultivate it to all that you desire it to be.

Kick start the honesty

Many of us desire others to be honest and open with us but rarely share the same sentiments when it comes to our hearts. To be open and honest with our friends is to pioneer a culture of openness and transparency. Your boldness to be honest about your down days, your fears and your scars may be just what your friendship group needs to steer you all down the road of a true and lasting relationship. Next time you are around your friends and a tender moment of complete honesty comes up, why not be the one brave enough to share your burdens? You will soon find that others follow suit. 

Set the scene

Many friendship groups do what I call hiding behind "activities", they go out for drinks after work, head out on the weekend or watch a movie. In order to create an atmosphere of truth and honesty however, I suggest catch ups over a meal or a cheap breakfast morning, or better still cooking together at the most local house. Activities such as these that contain "no entertainment" will require an atmosphere of communication, it forces you to speak about your day and it exposes the cracks in communication that may have been covered up by the many "social moments".

Invest one on one

What I find with most friendship groups that contain more than 3 persons is a desire to always do things as a group in a bid not to leave any one person out. However, as sentimental as this is, it does nothing for your personal relationship growths. Your entire friendship circle is only as strong as the individual one on one relationships that are contained within it. It is important that you build one on one relationships with each individual in your circle - personal lunch dates and random house visits go a long way. Each person must feel valued and individually cared for.

Social media groups

This is probably one of the most modern and up to date ways to have moments of banter with your friendship group. Due to work and life commitments, you may not see one another often, but creating a private group chat on facebook, instagram, whatsapp or the like is genius! You find a video that completely cracks you up? Send it to your friendship group and share the joke! Your group will soon be full of private jokes and moments of hysteria that keep you all close together despite the time and space between you. Likewise, if you find a video, article or something inspirational, why not share this also.

Integrate your families

Ever had that friend that you just never meet their parents or siblings? Many of us like to keep our families and private life away from our friendships. We are protective over our families or, for some, even embarrassed to expose our friends to what we consider our dysfunction. However, the truth is no family is perfect, whether yours is the perfect mum and dad scenario or very far from it, true friends don't judge or discriminate, they simply desire to know where you come from, the most intimate parts of you, that your relationship may have a greater depth. Next time you have a family wedding or house party, or simply just Friday night dinner, why not invite some of your friendship circle over and begin to give some depth to your relationships. 

Take criticism well

We end on this one as it is the reason that many believe that they need to evacuate their current circle - they have been offended. But we must all learn to take criticism well. True friends are not yes men, yes some people may desire your downfall, but you must be able to discern between an individual who desires your fall and one which simply tells you the truth as they see it. Remember that we all make mistakes and the one ingredient contained in the strongest of friendship groups is forgiveness. In order to have lasting friendships we must create a culture of forgiveness, not taking criticism to heart but lending a heart of forgiveness and keeping no record of wrongs.