Liz Garone
February 28, 2024
How to Cultivate Meaningful Friendships

How to Cultivate Meaningful Friendships

With everyone living such busy lives, it is easy to let friendships languish and not get the attention that they deserve. But meaningful friendships are an important part of a happy and healthy life and serve different purposes than romantic and familial relationships.

“Your friends, particularly life-long friends, share your history, support you in a more objective and unbiased way than that of a family member and are more likely to live longer than family members of older generations, to whom you might be inclined to turn for support. They really become your chosen family,” says Happier Living’s Director of Clinician Experience Dr. Alexis Weisinger. “For those reasons, it is essential to nourish and service those relationships.”

Dr. Weisinger and three of Happier Living’s clinicians weigh in below on what we can do to grow and strengthen the friendships in our lives.

Ensure that you are regularly carving out time for your good friends. Reaching out “just because” or simply to check in on them – not because you needed to return their call or because you need something from them – can be a wonderful way to make them feel special and let them know that you value and are thinking of them. Whether this means making some time on the weekend to send out texts or picking up the phone or looking for some free time in your calendar and letting them know you would love to see them,  putting in the work and investing in your relationships can go a long way in cultivating and deepening your friendships. 

Alexis Weisinger, Ph.D.

Director of Clinician Experience

Part of cultivating meaningful friendships is choosing friends who treat you with dignity and respect. Good friends shouldn’t interfere with you pursuing goals that are important to you, your ability to enjoy life, and do things you like doing, or your relationships with others. They should respect your boundaries and shouldn’t have a negative impact on your self-esteem, sense of integrity, or peace of mind. You deserve to live your best life and to have supportive, respectful friendships in it! 

Mark Schlotterback, MD


If you want to build a meaningful relationship, even if it is platonic, you need to always start with being truthful. I find that if you relate to another person honestly, it will help the two of you to see the real people that you each are, and trust is built from there. 

Also, it is very important that you find activities or ideas that you share, and this will strengthen your connection. Be sure to remember that a meaningful relationship takes time, so don’t become discouraged when it doesn’t happen as quickly as you want it to.

Gary Lewis, Ph.D., BSN 

Clinical Psychologist

An important investment in friendships is taking the time to learn about other key people in your friends' lives. Who are their other best friends? What is their relationship with their parents? Siblings? Gathering this knowledge allows us to understand our friends on a deeper level and know more about what they value in their other relationships. It also grants us the opportunity to form bonds with these individuals ourselves. 

Another great way to deepen your connection is to inquire about ways your friends practice self-care. Finding activities to do together which can promote calm forms a healthier bond and focuses on positive aspects of your lives simultaneously. It also allows us the opportunity to suggest self-care for the people who mean the most to us. Buying their favorite scented candle, the coffee they enjoy, or sending them phrases from their favorite books or movies show our loved ones we are listening, we value them, and we want them to be well. 

Honesty is an essential quality in long-lasting friendships. A good friend should know how to communicate concerns, issues, and areas of improvement to the other person. A mature relationship requires authentic dialogue, even when it's hard and could cause hurt. The people in our lives should want us to be the best versions of ourselves: challenge us, test us, and support us through turmoil. People with the strongest bonds are ones who are not afraid of difficult conversations and encourage each other to be authentic through the best and worst of times. 

Kensie Hoag, MSW, LCSW

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

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