Over the past few years, researchers have discovered that friendships have a profound impact on our psychological and physical well being. Friendships among those who have known one another for years – as well as friendships among family members – seem to play an important role in a person’s overall health.

Of course, maintaining lasting friendships is easier said than done. Reports estimate that most American adults have an average of just two trusted confidants.

Reflecting over the weekend I spent in Branson a few weeks ago with some of my very closest and lifelong friends, I began to consider just what it is that allows some people to be friends for life, while other relationships are only for a short while. What are some of the secrets to maintaining lifelong friendships? Here’s my list:

  • Have Realistic Expectations  Don’t put pressure on the friendship to be all things to each other at all stages of life. Realize the different seasons of life your friends might be in and respect the fact that no one friend can fulfill all your needs.
  • Be Flexible & Forgiving  People who have longstanding friendships are flexible and forgiving, realizing that no person or relationship is perfect. They allow their friends to grow and change as they themselves grow and change, and they understand that a deep and long-lasting relationship will be more intense at certain times than others — but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the effort.
  • Keep in touch.  Even if you guys aren’t nearby each other, making an effort to keep in touch through facebook, emails, texts and calls will go a long way in keeping a friendship together.
  • Make Time For Each Other  Shared experiences bond people together. Rather than cling to the past, or compare what you have now to what you once had, develop new memories together, and enjoy the past you have also shared together.
  • Appreciate The Gift  Recognize just how unusual it is to have a lifelong friendship and that lifelong friendships are a gift. When we appreciate how valuable they are, we will be more inclined to value the blessing and make the effort to maintain the relationship.

What are some of your secrets to maintaining lifelong friendships?

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