5 things your friends need to hear you say

Friendship is one of those things that make life worth living. Whether you have just one close friend, or several, knowing that there is someone in your life who cares about you and whom you care about can help you through your toughest times. Sometimes, though, maintaining those friendships can be tough. Here are five things you can say that will help keep your friendships alive.

I forgive you

When I was a kid I read somewhere, possibly in a fortune cookie, that three most important words in the English language are I forgive you. There are those who would argue that I love you are a more important three, but I’m with the fortune cookie. (Not that I love you isn’t important. It is.)

If you don’t agree, imagine this scenario. Charlie, one of your close friends, posted the video of you singing karaoke last night. You were singing NIN’s Closer to God, not something you wanted the world to hear. He took it down as soon as you asked him to, and he apologized. Does he want to hear that you love him or that you forgive him? Which do you think will be better for your friendship? While it may be, in that moment, harder to tell him that you forgive him, it’s important for both of you that you do.

I’m sorry

Two women, friends, walk away from the camera. They are on a beach, walking toward the ocean. The image is grey, the sky stormy. It's raining. Together they hold a pink umbrella, sharing its protection.

If I forgive you are the three most important words in the English language, then it stands to reason that I’m sorry are the two most important. Can you imagine how much more upset you’d be with Charlie if he hadn’t even apologized? If you do something that hurts your friend, even if you don’t think they should feel hurt, apologize. You don’t get to decide how they feel. If your friend is hurt, then your friend is hurt. If you apologize, you can help them feel better.

I’m here for you

It’s important to make certain your friends know that you will be there when they need you. This means you’ll listen when they need to talk, lend a shoulder when they to lean on you, and celebrate when they do well. Be there for the bad and the good. Tell them you’re there for them, and then be there.

I like you

Two older gentleman sit on a bench outside a bookstore. They are friends having a conversation. One is talking while the other listens.

This may seem too obvious to bother saying. After all, you wouldn’t be friends with Lucy if you didn’t like her. But even though Lucy probably knows you like her, it’s still nice to hear. If it’s too hard to say, “I like you,” you can say it in other ways. How about, “You rock,” or something along those lines?

I’m proud of you

This is another phrase that a lot of people seem to have trouble articulating. When our friend gets a good grade, does something outside their comfort zone, gets a promotion, does the right thing when it’s difficult — we feel proud of them. But we rarely tell them. Why? Do we think they’ll be embarrassed? Maybe they will be, but will they be so embarrassed that they’d rather not know that you noticed what they did and that it was awesome? Probably not. Tell them.

The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend.
~ Henry David Thoreau

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