5 ways to build better relationships in the new year
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Friendships have to be costly.
They have to consume your time.
They have to consume your mental energy.
You have to be vulnerable for them to form.
You will never have these things online.
You can make friends with anyone.
People stop making friends too early in life.
You die when your friendships die.
You’re probably already eyeballing some New Years Resolutions.
Maybe you want to lose 15 lbs., learn a new language, read more, or travel more. Maybe you want to finally run a marathon, or quit a toxic job, or even start a business.
These are all great goals.
But these all miss one important area of our lives.
Connections, Network, Friends—whatever you want to call it—these relationships have a profound effect on our lives and health. Chronic loneliness is deadly. So building a supportive community around us is a bigger deal than we may realize.
This year, my goal is to spend 500 hours investing in platonic relationships. That means about 9.5 hours a week spent with other people. Not only finding and fostering new relationships, but deepening existing ones.
Whether it’s building your network, your friend group, or more deeply connecting with the people you already love….
Here are a few ways you can prioritize relationships in the coming year.
5 Ways to invest in relationships
1. “Family dinner” once per month.
Host your friends, and the people you love, once a month. Either as a communal potluck or—if you’re feeling ambitious—make them dinner. Do not order food out, and going out to a restaurant doesn’t count.
A good rule of thumb is, if you don’t have to take your shoes off, it’s not intimate enough.
2. Anything Goes Sunday.
This was an idea my mom and I created 5 years ago, and has popped up in my life ever since. “Anything Goes Sunday” is when the stars align. When you and your friends decide to be completely open the whims of the universe. Where anything goes.
If a random bar is open at 2 pm with Jägerbomb specials, looks like you’re drinking Jäger. If there’s a live concert down the road, you’re going to see that too. Drinks with a stranger, yup. Don’t smoke, but you pass a cigar bar, looks like you’re about to light up a stogy.
“Anything Goes Sunday” is about shedding the expectations of what a normal hang out should look like. It’s about exercising extreme openness, and letting the sillier side of yourself free.
3. Remember the dark times of COVID.
Somehow, it seems that people have already forgotten that we were literally locked inside of our homes for 2 years. Just a matter of months ago, shaking someone’s hand or giving them a hug was taboo.
We were all jolted with the reality of just how important friendships are—and yet—we’re forgetting fast.
During these dark days, even just walking outside with another person was a privilege. Playing a game on Zoom was a welcome distraction from the crushing isolation.
The tiniest things were the biggest things. Don’t let the perspective COVID gave us slip away.
My advice here is, say yes even when you’re kinda tired. Say yes, when you’ve had a long work week. Say yes to something that doesn’t sound like a great time, but just a good one.
4. Imagine your 10 year old self.
I don’t know about you—but when I was 10—My friends and I loved stringing up all the blankets and sheets in my house, to make a “forts” in my living room.
We’d then watch TV, eat popcorn, or play video games until 2 am. Passing out on the ground.
For me, engineering the space with someone else, was the best part.
Your 10 year old self would kick you in the shins if they knew you had your own place—with your own TV and no bedtime—and sat in it alone drinking wine and eating hummus.
Invite people over and make something together. It could be something as easy as a cross-stitch or making a terrarium, or as intricate as brewing your own beer.
Either way, invite people over and do something fun that would make your 10 year old self proud.
5. The adult sleepover.
WTF is the point of a guest room if you’re only going to use it 3 days a year when your parents come to visit.
This is probably the easiest way I know to take a good friendship, and make it a great one. Grab some ice cream, watch 6 movies in a row, stay up later than you think you can.
Get delirious, tell stories, share laughs.
BONUS TIP: Ditching the bars
Maybe the most important thing you can do for your relationships this year is ditching bars.
Meeting up to drink every week will only take your relationships so far. If you really want to connect with people and build lifelong friendships, you need to get a bit more creative.
My best advice is—once again—consult with the kid version of yourself.
Imagine your 10 year old self sitting around, drinking juice-boxes and complaining about this weeks homework….
Yeah, we never did that.
But somehow we feel like that will work to help us make friends as an adult.
The bar is a go-to because it’s easy, but the truth is, it doesn’t work.
Instead let’s get out, play games, be spontaneous, build things, and host people.
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