Why friendships are the love stories we take for granted

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And she lived happily ever after… Meeting friends for a hike, giggling with her best friend at dinner and connecting with work pals over coffee. Why do no love stories ever end like this?

Films and music would have us believe we’re all in love with the idea of love. But why does it need to come in the form of a romantic partner? Yes, snuggling in front of Netflix with your other half is nice, holding hands as you ice skate on a date is fairy tale fine – but it’s your friends who are there for the long haul. So, why do we take them for granted?

In the pandemic, apart from missing the ability to travel anywhere other than from our bedrooms to the kitchen, it was the connections and friendships we craved – but somehow put them on the back-burner when we were given our freedom back.

We spend hours, days and maybe even years investing in our love lives – swiping as though our lives depend on it, spending night after night on (normally awful) dates – just so we can find that ‘one’ person we hope to spend the rest of our lives with.

What would happen if we put just as much energy into our friendships? Here’s how to help nurture the greatest loves of your life: the friends who are right in front of you.

Good conversations

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Imagine the scene: a bottle of wine, one of your best friends and a month’s worth of gossip to catch up on in just a few hours. But hands up, who ends up talking at the speed of an Olympic sprinter – jumping from conversation to conversation, without even having a real conversation?

Celeste Headlee, in her now-infamous Ted Talk around how to have a better conversation, believes we’re all guilty of it: “The art of a good conversation is having a balance between talking and listening. But somewhere along the line, we lost that balance.” So, how can we get that balance back?

Listening takes concentration, with so many distractions it’s easy to miss half of the conversation. But when you concentrate fully and engage in a more present way it can lead to better understanding on both sides. By asking them open-ended questions, it show you’re investing in what they’re saying.

Read more: why friendships are a central pillar of self care

Snail mail

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With so many ways to contact each other on social media, the joy of communication has been lost in overloaded notifications, emojis and Instagram announcements. If they’ve helped you through a tough time, or you just want to show them an appreciation for being such a good friend, nothing beats a heartfelt card via snail mail or a box of cookies with a ‘miss you’ note. You’ll feel just as good for sending it, as they will receiving it. Plus, if you ask nicely, they might just share a cookie with you.

Read more: why mid-life friendships will rock your world

Be more present

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When was the last time you left your smart phone at home? Being present and in the moment is a skill many of us struggle with – and smart phones have only added to that distraction. In fact, one recent study showed that we spend nearly five hours a day on our phone – wasted time that could be spent nuturing our relationships instead.

So, next time you meet a friend why not try this instead: put down your phone, turn off your notifications, and try and immerse yourself in the moment. Notice what they’re wearing, how they’re feeling and what they’re really saying. There’s always a sense of gratitude when you feel more present – and they’ll sense it too, relaxing into each other’s company, even before that first glass of wine has reached your lips.

Be a cheerleader. For every bit of self doubt, pep your friends up again, one pom-pom shake at a time.

Pom poms at the ready

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If your friend is taking a leap into the unknown – jumping on a plane to spend a week with new people, quitting a job to start their own business or even going on a date, then they’re going to need a cheerleader. For every bit of self-doubt that creeps into the reasons why they shouldn’t take a step outside their comfort zone, it’s your job to pep them up again, one pom-pom shake at a time. Send them podcasts and articles that reinforce their decisions, tag them in motivational quotes on Instagram and be a shoulder to cry on when imposter syndrome takes over.

Read more: how to make new male friendships over 30

Grab your passport

Nothing screams ‘bonding experience’ more than watching the sunrise over Bali or trekking through the Amazon jungle together. When you experience something new, or you’re part of an exhilarating moment together it’s not something you’ll forget in a hurry. In fact, it creates a shared memory, cementing your friendships in way that no digital like could ever do.

Find out more about Flash Pack adventures right here.

Got a story or adventure that could inspire a solo traveller like you? Tag @flashpack on social or email [email protected] to be featured.

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