Our world is full of love songs, romantic comedies and stories of people finding that long-desired love. Sometimes we can overlook the importance and value of friendship, and forget how to develop great friendships. I would argue that friendships are actually the most important relationships we have. From our first day of school as a child, to moving to a new city or joining a church, our greatest need is to make connection with other people. Whether we find a partner or not, we all need friends to walk through the ups and downs of life with. How can we grow strong fulfilling friendships that last a lifetime?
In the same way that we need to invest time in romantic relationships or family, we should proactively do this to develop great friendships too. If I don’t see a close friend during my day-to-day routine, I need to make the effort to schedule in time with them. Even in the busiest of schedules, we can phone our friends on route to somewhere, drop them a message while waiting for our coffee to brew, or arrange to go to the gym or for a walk at the same time.
Celebrate each other
As I get older, many of my friends have got engaged, bought houses with their significant others or announced that they’re expecting their first child. It’s been great to celebrate with them, but as a single person it sometimes feels like the things in your own life aren’t celebrated as much as these “traditional” milestones. So find ways to celebrate your single friends in the small as well as the big things.
Since the start of the pandemic I’ve formed a very close bond with two single friends. We’ve had parties on Zoom after promotions and wins at work, celebrated when one of us ran her first 10km, sent cards to cheer each other up, and delivered chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Our friendship has become so much richer since we’ve committed to celebrating together.
Share moments with each other
One of the reasons we look for a romantic partner is the companionship – having someone to share the small moments with. But we can share these moments right now with our friends, even if they aren’t always there with us in person. Whenever I see a great dog in the park, or an amazing sunset, I take a photo and send it to my best friend, and she does the same for me. I know someone else who whenever she goes on holiday, always sees a friend for dinner that night so that she can tell them all about her trip and everything she’s experienced.
Don’t forget your friends when you’re dating
We can probably all think of a friend who disappeared off the face of the earth when they started dating someone. It’s tempting to get swept up in the excitement of getting to know someone new, but we still need our friends. They’re the ones who have been there – and will be there – through the whole dating process, the joy and the heartache.
Open up to your friends when you’re struggling.
As a single person, Jesus took his close friends to be with him at the darkest hour of his life – in the Garden of Gethsemane. And he was saddened when they fell asleep and didn’t keep watch with him. If Jesus needed his close friends, how much more do we need ours! Who can you call on when you’re going through something hard?
Who is calling on you?
Acknowledge that friendships change
We’re often closer to different people at different points in our lives. Sometimes that’s because our circumstances change – we move to a different area or workplace – or sometimes we change as people and grow apart. Losing friends can be as painful as a break up, and it’s important to allow yourself to mourn. Equally, while friends can drift apart, it’s good to remember that they can also get closer again over time.
What friendships you are particularly grateful for right now? It could be local friend or a long-distance one, an old friend you’ve known for years or someone you’ve recently met. Why not drop them a message and let them know you appreciate them today. It’s never too late to develop great friendships.
Find resources to help your church become more welcoming to single people at Single Friendly Church.
Discover more about Christian Connection events and member-led meet ups for single Christians here.
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