How often do you sit on the sofa with your partner barely a foot away from each other, chatting with other people on social media? How often do you go out for lunch with a friend or to their house, to both spend time checking your emails or scrolling through feeds? If the answer is “all of the time”, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most of us are now spending time communicating or sharing with people online when we are in the company of others. We’re glued to our phones most of the time, and we often give it more attention than the people around us.
It’s been so long since the last time I had a meaningful conversation with my friends, especially the ones I used to be close with. It’s safe to say that I have no faintest idea of how they’re doing if it’s not with the help of Instagram and Twitter. Social media indeed has strange way of making us feel like we still know each other’s life when in reality we barely do anymore.
Social media is wonderful. Used correctly it’s a great way to nourish your friendships and maintain contact with people that live far away. But, many of us are guilty of paying more attention to these screens and communications than we are our real lives. Our real-world relationships are suffering because we struggle to give the real world and the people in it our full attention.
This kind of neglect can lead to the breakdown of friendships, divorce, and ultimately extreme loneliness. These friendships and relationships are important. These are the people that are there when you need them. That offer you a shoulder to cry on or important advice. That pick you up when you are down and give you a confidence boost.
While these friends and lovers might always be there when you need them, without nourishing the friendship by giving it your attention, time, and love, it won’t always be the same. For a lasting friendship that never falters or declines, you need to put some work into it.
The key to all relationships is listening to each other. This is another thing that’s easier to do when you’ve put your phones and devices down. To show you are listening to everyday conversations, remember what they’ve told you and ask about it in the future. Don’t make them tell you the same thing twice because you weren’t paying attention the first time.
One reason that relationships start to fade is due to a lack of shared interests. Think about yourself ten years ago – are your interests still the same? To maintain this friendship, it’s important to do two things. First, show an interest in the things that they love. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, ask them questions and give it a go for yourself or at least make it clear that it’s something that you are willing to talk about.
Then, you need to try new things together. Think outside of the box and try something that neither of you has ever considered. This will mean that you’ve always got something new in common, even if it’s a disaster.
Good friends listen, they are honest, they make you laugh, and they are there whenever you need them. To have friends like this, it’s essential that you learn how to be one yourself.
Start Caring, Be Smiling!