How To Cultivate Stronger, Better Friendships

3 min
Article preview picture

Friendships come in many forms, and in this hyper-connected digital age, we can forge incredibly strong bonds with friends we never actually see or meet in real life. But it’s also easy to fall into shallow friendships and false intimacy, both on and offline. Navigating the world of friendship – from making new pals to nurturing old relationships, to letting go of toxic attachments – can be complicated. And with more and more people adopting transient, nomadic lifestyles in the current day, finding community can be difficult. Humans are social creatures and we need community. We need friends we can turn to when times get tough, we need cheerleaders in our corner, and we need people around us to lift us up, inspire us, make us feel seen, and give us a darn good laugh. The bottom line is that friendships enrich our lives and help us grow. Here’s how to find and keep the ones that will do just that. 

Do the things you love

Going about enjoying the things you love, learning about them, and finding like-minded people that love what you love too is a great way to meet people. Having something to bond over can lay a solid foundation upon which friendships can develop. Prioritizing what you love can also strengthen your relationships with other people in other ways: Even if your friends don’t enjoy the same things or understand your passions, doing so will ensure that you can bring more to the table yourself. You’ll show up for each other in a better, happier space when you support each other to go off and fill your cups. 

Bring your authentic self to every interaction

The quickest way to attract “your” people is by being completely and utterly yourself. Showing up with authenticity isn’t easy for everyone. Many of us try to hide our true selves because we’re afraid that we won’t be accepted. But maintaining a façade is draining and damaging to your sense of self, and it prevents the right people from connecting with your energy. Don’t be afraid to talk about your weird obsessions, call out behavior that doesn’t align with your values, be honest about how you’re feeling, and lean into your own brand of humor. The ones who get it will likely be friends for life.

Be willing to get vulnerable

Good-time pals are great to keep around, but strong, lasting friendships are built on mutual trust, respect, and vulnerability. This is a big one. We all feel more compassion and connection when we hear of somebody’s struggles, and we need to share our own for true connections to be built. We have to allow ourselves to be seen, and we need to be prepared to receive as much love and care as we give in a friendship. Opening up to friends about what you are thinking and feeling is a signal that you trust them, and the right people will respond by holding space for you and supporting you – just as you do for them.

Uphold your boundaries

Respecting each other’s boundaries is central to a solid friendship, and this can prevent a healthy and balanced relationship from tipping into a codependency. Friends that aren’t respecting your boundaries are depleting your energy, which takes you away from nurturing the social connections that do nourish you in your life. An important boundary to maintain in any relationship is resisting the urge to try and “fix” someone or their situation. Support them by being there, and your confidence in their strength of character might just help them figure out the right solution for themselves.

Put your own needs first

If you’re feeling anxious and insecure about your friendships, this means that you need to do some internal work to build up your own self-esteem. Try not to project your own anxieties onto the people you’re building a relationship with. When you approach a friendship with a secure sense of self, you’ll be able to put boundaries in place, respect the other person’s, be authentic, and feel safe to get vulnerable, all while having a great time with this awesome human you've made a connection with. 

You will also be able to intuit when a friendship might have run its course or needs a little space – it’s ok for friendships to evolve as new people enter your life in the many different phases and chapters of it that we move through. By doing the work on yourself, you'll be able to show up fully grounded and present. You will be more compassionate, non-judgmental, relaxed, and simply awesome to be around. By doing your own inner work on a regular basis, your emotional growth will ripple out to your friends, and help them grow in turn. And you will be a magnet for the deep, lasting, and nourishing friendships that you deserve.


All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals and other resources that influenced this article: An Exploratory Study Of Friendship Characteristics And Their Relations With Hedonic And Eudaimonic Wellbeing; Social Relations And Life Satisfaction: The Role Of Friends; The Benefits Of Being Yourself.

Share this story
Read more
  • Article preview
    21 Feb 2022

    Are You an Extrovert or an Introvert?

    5 min

    Figuring out whether you are an extrovert, introvert, or a bit of both (an ambivert), is a great way to learn more about yourself. Personality refers to distinctive characteristics that influence how people think, feel, and behave. While different personalities each have their own unique traits, psychologists view extraversion and introversion as key traits that can influence our personality. 

    Read full article
  • Article preview
    8 Apr 2022

    What is Gaslighting?

    5 min

    Gaslighting is the action of undermining a person’s reality by denying their feelings, emotions, and memory - often resulting in them questioning their sanity and judgment of a situation. 'Gaslighter' is the term used to describe a person who psychologically manipulates another by means of gaslighting. 

    Read full article
  • Article preview
    25 Feb 2022

    The Psychology of Collectivist vs Individualistic Cultures

    5 min

    Culture influences how we think, behave, and interact with others in everyday life. In cross-cultural psychology, psychologists often conduct research examining one of the core dimensions of cultural variability: collectivism and individualism. 

    Read full article
  • Article preview
    8 Mar 2022

    Pets Can Be Good For Your Mental Health. Here’s How.

    5 min

    Taking care of a pet can be a big responsibility. Aside from the cost ー from vet bills and food to special equipment ー the actual feeding, walking, general looking-after, or even playtime needed to care for an animal can take up a lot of time. Yet doing so can bring about a lot of benefits. From easing loneliness to providing a balm for anxiety and depression, animals can have a positive effect on your mental health. Let’s take a paws (pun intended) to think about all of the ways an animal buddy might also be able to look after you. 

    Read full article
  • Article preview
    22 Mar 2022

    People-Pleasing: What It Is, and How To Stop It

    9 min

    Imagine if you lived a life where you were as nice and kind to yourself as you were to everyone else around you. Would your life look more or less the same, or vastly different? If it’s the latter, it may be time to look at how much importance you give to your own happiness versus that of others一and if that is often significantly less, to ask yourself if you’re a people-pleaser.

    Read full article