Ever since Taylor Swift strutted her stuff with her crew of gal pals we’ve all been having major squad goals. Same goes for Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Schumer’s blossoming best friendship—we want to hang out with these true friends immediately. But it’s not because their squads happen to be famous or gorgeous or successful or hilarious…it’s because they truly adore each other, and who doesn’t crave that kind of intensely loving friendship in their own lives? After all, friendship can add a major dose of joy, happiness, fulfillment and love to your life. And it’s not just important when you are a child—friendship is a crucial part of a balanced, happy life at every age.
As Psychology Today reports, according to author Carlin Flora in her book, Friendfluence (a word she made up to describe the important impact friends have on our lives), “Friendfluence is the powerful and often unappreciated role that friends—past and present—play in determining our sense of self and the direction of our lives.” Your friends influence who you are, who you become, and how happy you will be in that friendship and all the other relationships in your life. So needless to say, we all need a squad of best girlfriends, and it’s important that we cherish our role in that group. Here are 7 tips to help you build your squad, stay true friends and hold onto that crew of besties, and be your gal pals’ number one friend.
1. Be Dependable
If you want your squad to be there for you, you need to be there for them without fail. And that doesn’t mean you don’t have a life of your own and you don’t focus on your own needs as well, but a true friend (and a friend who sticks around for the long haul) is always there for her girls. Make sure your friends know that you are there and you will be there whenever they need you. And then deliver on that promise by actually showing up when duty calls.
2. Be Honest (But be Kind)
Yes, honesty is important. But so is kindness. Be open, open-minded, accepting and honest when needed, but do it with love and awareness of how your honesty will make your friends feel. Telling them nicely that their outfit is not flattering to save them embarrassment is one thing, but saying they look ugly is another. Always choose the kindness route, but just as you hope your friends will be frank with you, and won’t keep secrets from you, you should do the same for your friends.
3. Be Present
Showing up doesn’t just mean physically being there, though that helps. But you can also be present in your friendship even if you live far away, you work long hours or you operate on different schedules. Being present means you pay attention to what your friends have to say, to what they are going through and you don’t just ask how they are doing, but you really listen to what they are thinking, feeling and what they need.
Checking Facebook while your friend spills her heart out to you does not count as being present, even if you are sitting right next to her the whole time. According to Mind Body Green, “the most important and also the least common quality to find in a friend: the ability to listen with complete acceptance and without interruption or offering unsolicited advice.” So if you want to be the go-to girl that all your friends know they can count on, being present is a great place to start.
4. Have Fun
Friendship is fun; so don’t take it too seriously. After all, some of your most fun, giggly and ridiculously silly experiences will be with your group of best girlfriends by your side, so cherish those moments and let yourself go with your gal pals in tow. Never forget that it’s not only OK, but amazing to be comfortable and goofy with your friends—even if you make a fool of yourself, you know they’ll be there for you no matter what. And having that kind of friendship is a pretty unbelievable luxury in life.
5. Be Supportive
Always have your friends’ backs, even if you don’t totally understand what they are going through, you don’t agree with their actions or you are a little jealous of their situation. Celebrate their successes, be there to help them back up when they fail, and take pleasure in each other’s joy.
6. Be Generous
Sharing the things you love with others is a big perk of having a crew of best friends, and that applies to everything from sharing your time, your passions, your attention, and your wine. And sure, it can’t hurt to spoil your girls with special treats and cool experiences that you’ll all cherish forever. Just ask Taylor Swift, who is the queen of all squads, anywhere.
She took her entire staff from her 1989 Tour on vacation after the tour wrapped; she surprised a friend at her bridal shower and, appropriately, showered her with gifts. And then in 2014 she coined the term Swiftmas by sending gift packages to fans around the world—and we’re not talking basic gift cards, she got her fans personalized items based on what they love and wrote heartfelt notes too. Take a cue from this ultimate gal pal, and be generous with the people and friends you love. You don’t have to spend a lot—a kind note or surprise cup of coffee during a long day can mean everything to a friend.
7. Be Compassionate and Understanding
Sure, friends are great to have around when things are going well and the world is fun, happy and everything is going your way. But let’s be real; the world doesn’t always work that way, and when times get tough that’s when your real friends show up. So be compassionate and understanding. Listen to them and actually hear their concerns.
Don’t pass judgment, even if you don’t agree with what they are saying or feeling. Try to understand where they are coming from and use your own experiences to help them where you can. Above all, just be there; your friends will know who they can count on in good times and bad, and if you want to be the #1, go-to girl in your squad, being compassionate and available to your loved ones is at the top of the list.
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