How to Keep a Friend

Four Methods:Being a Great FriendMaintaining Friendship Through Life ChangesDealing with Friendship SetbacksFinding New Friends

Friendships are great but may be difficult to keep. Nurture your friendship by developing yourself. Always be respectful and communicate openly and without judgement. Making friends may seem complicated but there are a few tips that can help. Make sure to resolve conflict respectfully.

Method 1
Being a Great Friend

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    Loosen up. Don’t hold on to grudges and give your friends the benefit of the doubt. Don’t assume that your friend is trying to spite you or doesn’t care about your relationship. Consider that your friends have their own lives and that their schedules may change on the spur of the moment.[1]
    • Give your friend time to explain herself or let her know directly how you’re feeling. She may not know how much you have been thinking about the situation.
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    Tell the truth. Always be as honest as possible and don’t mislead your friends. You have to build a sense of trust in order to have a strong friendship. Your friend will probably reciprocate and share things with you in confidence.[2]
    • Rather than lie, let your friend know why you feel uncomfortable sharing something with her. She will appreciate that you have thought about your friendship and feel that this may be something you need to deal with on your own.
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    Keep up your social media presence. If you can’t find the time to catch up over the phone or face-to-face, you can still send updates via social media. Many platforms allow you to simply Like someone’s status and include a small comment. [3]
    • Even if your friend just posted something about the dinner he had, Like it and post a comment similar to “mmm, looks good, we’re overdue for dinner”. This will let him know that you’re thinking about him.
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    Keep it brief. Some friends find it difficult to keep up because it may seem like you haven't spoken in a long time and the thought of reconnecting becomes overwhelming. You may feel the need to send a lengthy message or chat for hours, but sending brief messages more frequently well help alleviate this. [4]
    • Talk about short trivial things so that neither of you feel obligated to talk about heavy emotional topics that tend to take more time.
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    Schedule when you will chat. Placing important appointments in your calendar ensures that you don’t forget and are prepared. Whether it’s a video chat, phone call, meeting, or email, make sure to schedule it into your calendar and follow through.[5]
    • Video calls are great, especially for friends that live far away.
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    Remain flexible. It’s understandable if life gets in the way of catching up. Don’t be mad if your friend has to reschedule because of work or family. People can get very busy when they have big life changes like having kids or building a career.[6]
    • Ask when a good time to reschedule would be or just leave it up to your friend if she is very busy.
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    Find something to bond over. Rekindle a shared hobby or interest. You may also find something new to bond over. People grow up and learn about different things. You can take up something that interests you both or experiment trying to find something you both enjoy. It’s never too late to learn something new. [7]
    • Doing something nostalgic that you use to do early on the friendship is always a good way to renew your bond.
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    Take a vacation together. You can visit your old haunts or bring families together for a summer road trip. You can also schedule a vacation around a shared interest like sports or music. Taking time off together allows you to focus on the friendship.[8]
    • Don’t try to force a vacation on a friend who has a lot of commitments like family or a career. It puts too much pressure on the vacation. She may resent you if things don’t go as planned.
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    Share responsibility. Don’t assign blame but rather be accountable and put in the effort to maintain your friendship. There’s no sense to find reasons as to why your friendship is failing.[9]
    • Reach out whenever you feel like it so that you don’t feel like you have to take turns. Be comfortable saying things like, “it’d be great to spend time with you if you’re free.”[10]
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    Keep yourself clean. Make sure you always have good hygiene and are well-groomed. You don’t want to be an embarrassment. Your friend will want the best version of you and that includes taking care of yourself.[11]

Method 2
Maintaining Friendship Through Life Changes

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    Have a variety of interests. The more interests you have, the more opportunity you have to connect with others. If you are an interesting person, your friends will want to know more about you and help support you in your endeavours. [12]
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    Enjoy your alone time. Take up hobbies, anticipate spending time on your own, and generally embrace having time to yourself. If you constantly seek the company of your friends, it may seem needy and overwhelming. Being able to enjoy time to yourself can keep your friendship.[13]
    • Independence and self-reliance will serve you well when there is a prolonged scheduling conflict.
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    Have plenty of friends. Having only one friend can put a lot of burden on the relationship. You don’t want someone to feel smothered or like you’re a burden. Allow yourself to develop other friendships so that you have a full support system when you need it.[14]
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    Communicate openly. If you remain guarded or keep your friendship at a superficial level, your friend may not think that the relationship is serious enough to keep. Share the important things in your life. [15]
    • Don’t feel like there needs to be a reciprocity. Some people take longer to open up than others. Communicate as openly as you feel comfortable.
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    Listen and share equally. Avoid having a one way friendship. Make sure that you actively listen to your friend and offer support when you can. A friendship should be mutually beneficial so offer what you can when your friend needs it. Don’t wait for him to ask.[16]
    • Being a good friend means being able to read the situation and anticipate what your friend needs even though she may not know herself. This means being attentive and listening without judgement.
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    Make sure anything you discuss is confidential. You don’t want your trust to be breached, and your friend wants to know that you can be trusted as well. Don’t try to force any information out that she doesn’t feel comfortable telling you. Trust needs to be earned.[17]
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    Have a good time. Friendship is meant to be enjoyed. It shouldn’t be taxing or feel like a burden. Do things that make both of you happy and make sure that both of you are getting something positive out of the relationship.
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    Keep in touch. Check in as often as your schedules will allow. Even if months or years pass, a friendship can continue where you left off if you make the first move. Visit your friend when you can because meeting face to face brings a sense of warmth messages and phone calls can’t. [18]
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    Keep positive. Stay warm and upbeat. Having a negative friend may become burdensome. Don’t be afraid to let a negative friend know that her attitude is difficult to deal with and something needs to change.[19]
    • Talk about everyone in a positive light. If you gossip or take down someone behind his back, your friend may think that you act that way when she’s not around.
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    Be dependable and honest. No one wants to have a flaky friend. Friendship means that you are there for each other when you need each other most. This doesn’t just mean physical presence but also honest opinions when it’s difficult for your friend to hear.[20]
    • Friends will appreciate that they can count on you to hear the truth and that you will be there for them when you say you will.
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    Respect each other. Respect your friend’s feelings and generally respect her as a person. Never disparage her and support her in her endeavors. You want to be a positive addition to her life so have her best intentions in mind. [21]
    • Accept each other for your individuality. Don’t be judgemental.

Method 3
Dealing with Friendship Setbacks

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    Establish and honour boundaries. Work together to develop the right amount of time to spend together. One of you may be busier than the other so it’s unfair to devote the same amount of time to the friendship. You may also want to establish a place to meet so one person doesn’t travel more than the other.[22]
    • Establish standards that are fair and acceptable to everyone involved. Make sure that you communicate openly and compromise when you can. You may also need to agree upon the frequency of when you catch up, the kind of catching up you want to do, and the type of activities you want to enjoy together.
    • You may need to be as detailed as establishing time limits for phone calls, what time is acceptable to be contacted, the frequency you can be contacted, and the length of contact. Some people need firm boundaries or they may overtake your time.
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    Agree whether it’s acceptable to reach out to family. Some friends may think that it’s okay to get overly involved in your life including your family decisions. They may actually think that they are part of the family and that their input matters as such. Make sure you agree upon what’s acceptable.[23]
    • In contrast, some friends don’t want anything to do with your family and may be disrespectful with your time. Make sure you agree with your friends about what your priorities are and what is most important to you.
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    Create your personal space. Some friends are overly physical or, in contrast, don’t want to be touched at all. Make sure you establish your personal space together so that you each know what’s appropriate. [24]
    • Physical touch may also be applied to your family or other people in your social circle. Make sure friends know what is acceptable.
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    Have appropriate conversations. Some people don’t have a filter or, in contrast, are very guarded. Make sure you each know what the appropriate topics of conversation are. You don’t want to be rude or offend your friend. You also want to speak up if you’ve been offended.[25]
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    Use “I” statements in situations of conflict. Shift the focus onto yourself and describe what you are feeling about the situation. If you say “you”, it may seem accusatory and your friend may become defensive. Make sure you are accountable for yourself and empathise with your friend.[26]
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    Work together. Develop steps to resolve your conflict and make sure there are detailed steps each of you can take. Check in often to support each other and make sure that you both are receiving the progress that you set out to get. [27]
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    Check in with yourself. Ask yourself what a reasonable solution should be and how you feel about the entire situation. You need to be able assess the situation on your own and not feel guilty about losing your friendship.[28]
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    Say no when necessary. Make sure that you have established your boundaries and be able to say no whenever your friend tries to cross them. In contrast, acknowledge your mistakes and apologize for pushing past your friend’s boundaries.[29]

Method 4
Finding New Friends

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    Find the right fit. Find friends that enjoy the same things you do or think similarly to you. Feel free to ask your friends what they think about certain tv shows, drinking, smoking, sex, classmates, and themselves. The more you know about someone, the easier it will be for you to decide whether she will make a good friend or not.[30]
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    Be wary of popular kids. You may find it difficult to become friends with popular kids and if you do, you may find it extremely difficult to keep the friendship because they may have many options and only be concerned with staying popular. They try to keep their status and may not be trustworthy or worth investing your time. [31]
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    Check out your schedule. It may be easiest to keep friends with similar schedules or who live close to you. Friends who play the same sports or who participate in the same clubs make it easier for you to see and interact with them frequently. [32]
    • Keeping friends in different schools may be difficult but you can schedule hanging out with them during the weekends, share an interest, or meet them to do an activity.
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    Nurture new friendships. Grow your newly formed friendship by taking it slow, being available, and by not being needy.[33]
    • Friendship should develop at your own pace. Don’t rush into anything.
    • Allow your friendship to grow by making time for your friend.
    • Avoid being needy. Being needy can turn off any friend. Don’t be relentless with your attempts to become friends.


  • Sometimes there's nothing you can do about losing a friend.
  • Make each other laugh.
  • Treat your friend how you want to be treated.

Sources and Citations

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Article Info

Categories: Social Interactions for Youth