25 Ways to Build Stronger Friendships

Note: This is a guest post by Alaia Williams of One Organized Life

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive.
Anais Nin

Friendships are incredibly important. At certain stages in our lives, friendships are everything to us – the most important thing in our lives. Friendships help define us. Our friends can influence our choices – where we live, what we eat, what we buy.  Friendships grow and change as people come and grow. There is old proverb that says, “friends are flowers in the garden of life.”  Friendships need their own kind of water and soil to grow healthy and strong.  The following are 25 things to keep in mind to facilitate building stronger friendships.

  1. Choose friends wisely. You do not have to be everyone’s friend. Choose to be friends with people who build you up, not tear you down. Choose friends who inspire you and welcome you, not alienate and insult you. You can’t choose the family you are born into, but you can choose your friends.
  2. Listen. Listen closely to what the other person is saying. Let that person know that you hear them. Ask clarifying questions. Summarize what you’ve heard. Though helpful, it does not always have to be through words. Eye contact and body language are also important ways of showing someone you are listening.
  3. Respond carefully. Think before you speak – especially if you are angry. Sometimes, taking a moment to think about what you say before you start blurting things out will spare hurt feelings and bruised pride. Also, when friends feel like it is okay to be themselves around you, they trust you. Choose your words with care.
  4. Avoid consistently giving advice or trying to fix all of your friend’s problems. By all means, if a friend asks for your advice, give it. They might want you to proofread an important email before it is sent out. Maybe they are struggling with a relationship. Perhaps life is throwing them a curve ball and they need your support or insight. Don’t wiggle your way into every aspect of your friend’s life, telling them how to be the star of their own show. Give them room to process things and make their own decisions.
  5. Play fair. Avoid trying to one-up your friends. Eventually your friends won’t want to play with you anymore.
  6. Be authentic. Be yourself. Be honest. Avoid putting up a façade. We all test our relationships by throwing something out there about our true nature. We then hide behind a corner, head peeking out, waiting for the response.  If someone can’t accept you for who you are, developing a relationship with them will be hard. Don’t shortchange yourself by denying your beliefs, values, and point of view, for the sake of fitting in. You won’t be doing anyone any favors.
  7. Communicate openly and honestly. Developing communication with a person can take time – and trust! Ask your friends what you can do for them. Share what you have to offer. Don’t be afraid to let people know what you need. Share what is necessary, but don’t dominate conversation. When a problem arises, work through it together.
  8. Accept your friends for who they are. On your search for friends who can accept your authentic self, keep in mind – other people are looking for the same thing. We all want people who love us for who we are.
  9. Respect their choices. It is okay to disagree. If your friend decides to make a move when you think standing still is the right thing to do, let them do their thing. If you’ve given your advice and your friend sees things differently, step aside. What your friend is doing might be right for their life but not yours. They might be making a mistake, but if it doesn’t kill them, maim them, or leave them in a coma, hopefully they can learn from the experience. And, if it will kill them, lock them in a closet and don’t let them out until they’ve forgotten why you trapped them in there in the first place.
  10. Be the kind of friend you want others to be for you. You want friends who are honest, kind, compassionate, fair, not judgmental, authentic, and intelligent.  Be that person first and you’ll be more likely to attract that kind of friend into your life.
  11. Be empathetic. Trying to understand things from your friend’s point of view can help you communicate and understand each other better.
  12. Give compliments. Show love for your friends by complimenting them on their good qualities or things they do well. Has a friend done something you admire them for? Let them know!
  13. Express your gratitude. Let your friends know that you value your friendship. Tell them. Write them a note. Did you see the collector’s edition of their favorite movie while you were out? Buy a copy. Surprise your friend by taking him or her out for lunch or dinner at one of their favorite places.
  14. Admit and apologize. When you do something wrong, admit it.  Learn to apologize. Sometimes a friend is upset, and all they want from you is to (genuinely) say “sorry.” It shows that you realize your misstep, and that you will hopefully not make the same mistake again.
  15. Let go. Did a friend do something that hurt you? Have you talked it through? Were apologies made? Let go and move on! If you don’t, you’ll hang on to the transgression and it will taint the relationship going forward. Don’t trudge up a prickly patch of your past. Try your best to make a fresh start.
  16. Make time for your friends. Spend time with your friends. It might feel odd to schedule your friends on your calendar, but if you have a busy schedule, getting them in your book, is better than letting them go. Show your friends that you want to be around them. Is your friend far away? Write them an email, chat with them via IM, call them on the phone, plan a weekend get together. Making time for your friends sends the message that they are an important part of your life.
  17. Keep your promises.  If you know you can’t deliver something, don’t promise that you will. If you make a promise, do you best to keep it. It is better to say “I don’t think I can make it on Saturday night, but lets get lunch next week,” than saying you will show up, and then accept a different invitation or cancel at the last minute.
  18. Celebrate what you have in common. Most friendships are started because of some common thread – a favorite sport, a love of books, an appreciation of fine wine, an insufferable boss. Get season tickets to your favorite baseball team or check out the local library book sale together next month.
  19. Try new things together. What new experiences can you share with your friend? It could be as simple as checking out the new local coffee shop, or as adventurous as bungee jumping.
  20. Have fun together. Friendships, like any other relationship, can fall into a rut sometimes – especially if all you do with your friends is share your latest complaints every time you see each other. Shake up the routine. Go out and do something fun you both enjoy, or look at that list of new things to try that you came up with and do one of them. It’s great to have a friend you can open up with, but lighten the burden load and let loose – create some happy memories together.
  21. Seek balance in your friendship. Entering a relationship with selfish motives and being a person who takes and takes and takes until the well runs dry, is likely to lead a lonely life. Serve and support your friends. What can you do for them? How can you help? What can you add to their life or their day to make it a little bit better?
  22. Take equal responsibility for the friendship. Take turns making plans or driving across town to see each other. If there is a problem, acknowledge your part in it and figure out, together, how to make it right. If both people are not tending to the relationship, it will not flourish.
  23. Be a cheerleader. Be encouraging. Motivate your friends. Affirmation goes a long way. If your friends aren’t in your corner, who is?
  24. Keep personal information confidential. As relationships grow, it is common for friends to share confidential information with you. If a friend tells you a secret it is because they trust you and believe that you will keep what they told you in the strictest of confidence.  Do not betray your friend by sharing their secret stories with others. Many times a relationship has been ruined over spilled secrets.
  25. Unclench your fist. Friendships grow and change. Sometimes they end.  You can change a lot in a year. Imagine how much you can change in 10 years. The person you were when you met someone is not the person you will always be. You grow up. You change your mind about things. Your friends will do the same. Sometimes a friend you’ve known for years will start to play a bigger role in your life as the years pass. Perhaps your lifestyles change radically and spending tons of time together just does not feel right anymore because you have fewer interests in common.  This friend might stay in your life, but might have less impact on and influence in it. That’s okay.  If a person is bringing you down, hurting you, or starts to go down a dangerous path, it is completely acceptable to end the relationship. Sometimes we struggle to hang on to a wilting relationship. Many times, it is healthier to let go.

Alaia Williams is a Professional Organizer based in Los Angeles, CA. Her blog, One Organized Life, includes articles about organizing, simplicity, work/life balance, and productivity.


  1. […] just wanted to take a quick moment to let you know about an article I wrote called “25 Ways to Build Stronger Friendships,” which is posted over at the Life Optimizer […]

  2. I agree with all of your excellent points, Alaia! Especially the part about letting go of old friends when you have drifted apart. I want to share the wisdom of many great minds about this topic in “300 Friendship Quotes” at http://shanelyang.com/2008/08/05/300-friendship-quotes/

  3. What a great list, thanks!
    My favorite is # 22, and I measure the quality of a friendship by how much effort each of us is putting into it.

  4. I completely agree…thanks for the good words!

  5. To Desire, Elle, and Shanel –
    Thanks for the great comments. Glad you enjoyed the article!
    – Alaia

  6. […] to my recent entry into the blog carnival world, I’ve found new places to look for answers. This post in particular got me thinking about friendship. 25 points is too long for me, so here are […]

  7. […] 25 Ways to Build Stronger Friendships | Life Optimizer A pragmatic summary of 25 ways to reinforce an existing friendship. Commonsense advice. Perhaps the most important one is the first one: Choose Friends Wisely. Life’s too short to try to get on with everyone, so don’t bother […]

  8. […] and techniques learnt all the more easier – we can apply ourselves in life, in our work, in our relationships with that much more ease. Science and its spiritual counterparts are offering you the key to unlock […]

  9. Very interesting site ! Good work ! Congratulations :),

  10. […] 25 Ways to Build Stronger Friendships @ Life Optimizer […]

  11. hi, this is a great blog. i will definitely share this to my friends. Thanks!

  12. That’s a nice list. Very good advice. 😀
    I especially liked: “Respect their choices. It is okay to disagree.”

  13. Give Compliments. ~~ I guess that’s something most of us forgot nowadays.. Keep the friendship burning by giving compliments 😀

  14. Thank you alot for this tips…

  15. […] just wanted to take a quick moment to let you know about an article I wrote called “25 Ways to Build Stronger Friendships,” which is posted over at the Life Optimizer […]

  16. sooo….true…thankzz..i’ll try to do so…i really really want to build a stronger bonding with my dreamt friend

  17. Great article,thank you. I’ll agree with your list and i’ve applied alot of it already in my life which has helped me. Sometimes I’ll find my self comparing to others but not to their fortune but instead to their problems which are almost always bigger and more complicated compared to mine . reading and experiencing what people managed to go / live through and succeeded after so much pain or barriers will be always a great motivation.

  18. What you said is perfect to build a strong lasting friendship/relationship. I like to better my friendship experience – sometimes I can become inferior about the major approach, but don’t want to come across desperate for serious friendship where love will blossom. I am seeking a friendship with someone who would love to be my friend, for me just being myself.
    It’s hard to build a new friendship with someone new, after having terror with an old friend – especially when it fell apart. Particarly when love and sex was the base of it.
    Now after three years of conffused emotions and hardache – I think it’s time to try for another go, but a different approach or different angle. Everything is so important to impliment into a personal plan of friendship not a plan of disaster.
    Finding that right person to be a true is only a step away. So give it your all, your best shot and don’t look back. Believe in yourself and be proud of your achievement.

  19. im veri greatful for this tips.i hv learnt alot which i believe will improve my friendship relation

  20. Benjamin Olubgeyiwa Ereto
    Benjamin Olubgeyiwa Ereto

    That was perfect.

  21. This is truly an eye opening article, glad I took the time to read it, some of things listed I really need to work on especially #2 and #15, not just in a friendship scenario, but in almost everything, I admit there are some aspects about myself that I need to change.

  22. This is super helpful…i read it 1 by 1 everyday as a daily motto??

  23. All u said and listed here are wise thourth, am highly intouch now expecialy in ( making out time for your partner and keeping your promises)

  24. Well I think it’s very important to help your friends if they need help after all that is a responsibility in a friendship I’ve learn that from a failed friendship with a guy named Dominic well I didn’t fail he did and I understood that it was my job to take care of myself at that point not him he should have known better then to not help with my anxiety he did maybe once in person but that’s it and I ended the friendship because he didn’t really act like he cares very much I strongly believe friends are supposed to be just like family I’m not talking cousins I’m talking about like brothers and sisters if your friends don’t treat you like a brother or sister they aren’t worth being friends with at all

  25. Hello! I have always had trouble making and keeping friends, especially of people my age; I have never really had good friends just my age-always someone older or younger. Does that say something about my maturity level? I always feel nervous about sharing my true feelings with my friends even if they do the same about something I said that has offended them or made them uncomfortable? Is this fear irrational? Could it be a result of overthinking how they might react? Since I’ve mostly always been socially outcasted, does it make sense that I fear they might reject or abandon me? If a friend says something that I don’t like or that hurt my ego a bit, how should I let them know? Why do I always fear showing my anger to others but not my sadness? Is that weird? Will a true friend understand and know when something has upset me or be open to me telling them that I don’t always need their advice on what I should and should not do? If a friendship doesn’t work out should I fix something about myself that is preventing me from forming good, valuable friendships?

    • Hi Lamia. I have exactly the same feelings about myself. I sometimes feel like I’m too self-conscious and I fear telling the other friend how I truly feel about something because I’m afraid I might extinguish what could be a great friendship. I’ve been socially outcast and rejected by friends in the past. It’s very encouraging to see that I’m not the only one with this experience.

  26. Anyone most of your points are correct but except one point is not at all correct which said that “you have to replaces your old friends with new friends atleast in ayear . I w’ll not concurr with you on this point because old friends are most important which is not amatter of buying new clothe changing it with old one

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