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How to be a good friend

By Anne-Marie O'Neill, RealSimple.com
Advice for ensuring your gold friendships stay true to the end.
Advice for ensuring your gold friendships stay true to the end.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Authors and friendship experts share advice for staying friends forever
  • Have separate friend groups? Throw a party and introduce them all
  • Even if you're jealous of a friend's success, swallow that jealousy, and celebrate with her
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(RealSimple.com) -- Bert and Ernie. Laverne and Shirley. Thelma and Louise. These duos knew what it took to create a lasting bond.

Here, expert suggestions for creating your own enduring relationships (none of which involve driving off a cliff).

Stop giving advice

If you always tell your friend how to fix her problems, the relationship will be unbalanced. You become the One Who Knows All, and she becomes the One Who Is Troubled. Eventually you're both going to tire of those roles.

Instead, let her bounce ideas off of you. Ask, "What are you planning to do about this tricky situation?" Or just give a supportive comment: "That sounds difficult. How do you feel about it?"

Offer your opinion only if she asks for it. Otherwise you're not having a dialogue; you're giving a lecture.
--Frank M. Lachmannm Ph.D., is a New York City-based psychologist and the author of "Transforming Narcissism."

Show a different side of yourself

One great way to do that is to mix friends from different areas of your life -- say, throw a get-together with your college buddies and your pals from work. You'll find yourself opening up more, and your friends will learn new things about you. Friendships benefit from a breath of fresh air.
--Sally Horchow is a coauthor of "The Art of Friendship: 70 Simple Rules for Making Meaningful Connections."

RealSimple.com: 5 inspirational friendships

Be (genuinely) happy for your friend's success

Friends want you to celebrate with them when good things happen. Sometimes that's harder than it sounds, especially if you're a little jealous of your pal's success.

Swallow that emotion, because she doesn't just need a shoulder to cry on in a crisis. She's also looking for someone to cheer her triumphs. Joy shared is joy doubled.
--Jennifer Litchman is one of the 10 lifelong friends who were the subject of Jeffrey Zaslow's best-selling book "The Girls From Ames."

RealSimple.com: When friendships go wrong

Make small gestures

You don't have to go to great lengths -- throwing a surprise party or giving an expensive gift -- to show your friends you love them.

Case in point: When I had surgery in 2009, about 50 people posted short comments online wishing me well. I was touched. If you don't use social media, reach out in other ways. Leave your friend a compassionate voice message, or stop by her office with a latte if she's had a tough day. It will mean the world.
--Jason Falls is a social-media consultant based in Louisville, Kentucky.

RealSimple.com: Famous friendship quotes

 
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