An ancient proverb reveals the progression of friendship ‘A person who has friends must be friendly, but there is a friend that becomes closer than a sibling’
Three steps to long term friendships
1. Try to be nice, a smile goes a long way
I’ve always enjoyed seeing icy people warm up just because I extended to them a little kindness through simple body language.
To illustrate, my wife and I did a trip to New York and we stayed in Hells Kitchen. Each morning I’d wake up around 4am and walked down to Times Square to get my coffee. For the next twelve mornings I would pass the small angry looking kebab guy on the corner of 51st & 8th. From the first morning I’d smile and say hello with no response, he tried to ignore me or look straight through me. By day six or seven he revealed his smile and we connected. From that day he anticipated my kindness and was ready to give it back. I still see his smile in my mind.
A smile with very little expectation goes a long way
2. Everyone responds according to their need for you
Never feel that any relationship should respond according to what we give.
Most people don’t see the need to be our friend until they need a genuine friend. This is our truth as well, we don’t see the need for anyone until we are completely isolated.
Maintaining a friendly demeanour allows people the time to warm up to us and it doesn’t cost us a thing to be perpetually nice.
Most people will miss the offer of your genuineness but for those that take up the offer, it is priceless.
3. When you are fortunate to have close friends, don’t smother them
In our teenage years if you had a best friend it seemed like you had bragging rights. As we get older we realise that the idea of a best friend isn’t as noble.
The proverb I shared talks about having friends that are closer that siblings. Like any sibling rivalry, we take each other for granted and as a result we create dysfunctional attributes towards each other.
Maintaining long term friendships that last and become closer than our siblings is an ongoing effort of allowing each other space and respect.
I have a handful of these relationships that have lasted decades, we continue to pick up our friendship even if years go by without a word spoken.
I believe building new friendships while maintaining old ones is healthy for our soul. If we’re not growing in life we’re going.