3 Big Ways to Improve Your Friendships Today

I try to give Biddy the benefit of the doubt when he occupies my desk chair.

I try to give Biddy’s intentions the benefit of the doubt when he occupies my desk chair.

Years ago I stumbled upon a fascinating list of attributes related to happy, long-lasting marriages. At the top of the list were two fascinating–and unexpected–traits that indicate you’ll have a successful marriage:

  1. When you laugh at something you’re watching or reading and your spouse responds with interest.
  2. If you and your spouse go to a marriage counselor before you’re married.

Since then, I haven’t read anything else about these indicators…until today. A friend shared an article from Business Insider called “Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down to 2 Basic Traits.” It’s long, but it’s worth the read.

The neat thing about the article to me is that these indicators aren’t passive. These are things we can actively do to improve our romantic and platonic relationships.

Here are my key takeaways from the article:

  1. The article talks about the first indicator I mentioned about as a “bid,” as in “bid for attention.” Part of it is awareness–you have to be aware of the other person realize that they’ve laughed or gasped or made an observation. The other part is about acting on that bid with interest instead of ignoring or even belittling it.
  2. The article also talks about being kind in a really specific way: “being generous about your partner’s intentions.” I love this concept. It basically means to give someone the benefit if the doubt. If your spouse or friend is 10 minutes late to lunch, you can either assume that they don’t appreciate your time OR you can be open to the myriad of other reasons why they might have been late. The framework you choose can have a huge impact on the connection you make over lunch.
  3. The article mentions the many different ways that you can respond to good news. Like, if a friend or spouse tells you about the high point of their day, you brush over it or try to one-up them with how much better your day was…OR you can respond with enthusiasm or questions. The latter is a huge indicator of a healthy relationship.

I really connect with these examples because I can think of times that I’ve done both the right and wrong versions of all of them with friends and girlfriends. Sometimes I think they can be an indicator of a relationship I’m not enthusiastic about. But sometimes–especially with friendships–I’m just being lazy and taking the friendship for granted. It’s in that way that the article is a great reminder that all of those attributes are choices I can make when interacting with the people I care about.

Which of those three resonates the most with you?