It’s apparent that friendships mean a lot to Millennials. You see it when they’re gathered in groups, enjoying beach volleyball or breaking bread at a café community table. As digital natives, their connectivity is primal – busy checking a constant stream of texts, punctuated by comments on social media.
But whether we’re Millennials, Gen X or Baby Boomers, don’t we all value our friends? They’re the ones who love us even with all our quirks. And when we start a business or finish our first novel, there they are clapping with joy.
Findings from a MacArthur Foundation Study show that emotional support and the security that friendships provide are survival strategies in adversity. In fact, our social ties can reduce the risk of disease as well as help us live a longer and more satisfying life.
Want some easy tips to nurture your friendships?
Receive as well as give. You may find it hard to ask for help, especially if you think your strength in coping comes from not needing to depend on others. Friends can buffer the effects of distress and provide meaning when you’re feeling low. But they can support you only if you let them in.
Lower your expectations. Friendships are complicated. No one can meet all your needs all the time. Being jealous or possessive can cause misunderstandings. A little self-assessment can help as you try to face your conflicts head-on. And if your feelings are hurt, talk about it before resentments build.
Stay in touch. Relationships change, but that doesn’t mean they have to end. When you’re feeling vulnerable, small slights or disappointments become exaggerated. Recognize that certain standards may be hard to maintain. Allow your friends some slack because no one is perfect.
If friends counter stress, give us strength, keep us healthy, even add years to our lives, we owe it to ourselves to make them a priority. Are you?