If you’re like me, your girlfriends are family. You celebrate exciting milestones and support each other through traumatic events. You can sit on a couch for hours without saying anything other than “pass the Sour Patch Kids.” And you tell each other the truth about everything, from unflattering outfits to toxic romances.
So why, sometimes, do we find ourselves neglecting these precious relationships? Sure, many of us are married or will go on to find significant others. And yes, we all have career and family obligations, but shouldn’t best friendships be prioritized, too?
Even if you do carve out time to see your girlfriends, it can be hard to stay present with the time you do have together. There’s always an opportunity for all of us to be better friends.
Send snail mail.
Yes, it’s true: The United States Postal Service is still in business. People actually still send snail mail, and for good reason. Shooting off a quick email might be easy, but sending paper cards feels personal and requires a different kind of effort. When you get an actual envelope in your mailbox with a sweet note, you feel recognized and appreciated, right? Surprise: your girlfriends will, too.
Unplug from technology.
This one should be easy, but sometimes I feel like my phone is permanently glued to my hand. Your fingers may even instinctively swipe right when you see your screen light up with a new message. If you have a bad habit of monitoring your texts and emails during dinner dates, turn off your phone to avoid any temptation. Your messages will still be there when you turn it back on.
Make one-on-one plans.
It’s easy to rely on big group activities or events to see the people you care about. But the truth is, the best time spent is time spent with just one other person. You have different friends for different reasons, so it’s important to see your shoulder-to-cry-on friend separately from your super-fun-up-for-anything friend. Carve out one-on-one time when you can get the most intimate experience with your girlfriend.
Remember important dates.
Remembering birthdays is an obvious requirement of any best friendship, but what about wedding anniversaries? Job promotions? And isn’t it just as important to remember the difficult milestones as it is to remember the fun ones? Acknowledging the death of a friend’s loved one or the date of a tough breakup will show them just how much you care about their happiness—and their hardship.
Check jealousy at the door.
I’ve experienced my fair share of girl-on-girl jealousy (both given and received), but when it comes to my best friends, it just simply can’t exist. Even if your life is in shambles while your best friend is on top of the world, you never know how the future will play out. Always offer your undivided support and excitement, so that when your life inevitably turns itself around, your friend will be there for you too.
Share the conversation love.
Generally, people love to talk about themselves. It makes us feel recognized and loved, but at some point, it gets to be too much. You may find yourself at a girls’ dinner sharing family updates and photos, complaining about work, and asking for a favor, all before the waiter comes to take your order. Quality time doesn’t come around very often, so don’t let a meal go by without hearing updates from everyone at the table.
Actively stay in touch.
Staying in touch can be tough, but it’s important to reach out and let your friends know you’re thinking about them—make them feel valued. An easy way to stay in touch is to set a specific date to get together. Putting something on the calendar will hold you both accountable. As for long distance relationships, you can do the same thing via phone or video chat dates. Most of the time it’s good to unplug around friends, but in certain situations technology is what actually allows you to stay in touch. And let’s all be grateful for that.
How do you keep your friendships thriving? Share your advice in the comments below.
This article was originally published on February 24, 2016.