The blow the pandemic has been giving us is clear. Even in the same city, restrictions force us to select who we want to see and who we don’t. A difficult decision, but it can have a positive side: selecting those friendships that contribute most to our well-being.
This selection could be actually a good thing. It has been studied that qualitative relationships are limited. And in the current context, we cannot expect the number of friends we have to be the same as before. The pandemic is teaching us to prioritize and truly care for the people we consider important. This is an improvement that compensates for a possible loss.
But how to choose? The answer is not that difficult. If we think carefully, we realize that the people we have stopped seeing are mainly those people we have never seen regularly (for example, the colleagues we only met at work). This situation shows clearly who we must meet in favour of those with whom we want to meet. What makes a friendship satisfactory is presence and dedication.
In her book “We Should Get Together: The Secret to Cultivating Better Friendships“, Kat Vellos talks about what she calls the “seeds of connection”, which are proximity, frequency, compatibility and commitment, and which help to identify good friends.
Studies conducted define the four characteristics of authentic friendship: trust, sincerity, fidelity and reciprocity. When you lose one of these pillars, you may want to say goodbye to your friend.
But the pandemic has not only made us stop seeing some people, it has also made us fight with some others. We are all more anxious and stressed. Also the fact of wearing the mask incorrectly could trigger a conflict. When this happens, it is advisable to stop relationships until the tension fades away. We already have to endure all what the pandemic entails that we don’t need to add any more stress.
For friends who have passed the “selection”, it is time to find time and space to share with them to interact without distractions and have a relaxing chat. Looking into each other’s eyes when we speak, taking care of the posture of our body, using appropriate tone and words, are only some elements of an effective communication also among friends..
Maintaining and caring for our good friendships can also improve our health and increase our ability to bear stress.
To have a full and healthy life, we should spend more time with friends, albeit only in a virtual way for the time being. With the difficulties caused by the pandemic we must find new ways to relate to each other, and continue to invest time in finding new subjects of conversation, for example talking about a series that you are watching, being on platforms to carry out online activities together, or having a drink together on a video call.
These are just a few ideas for maintaining your friendships during the pandemic. What do you do to stay in touch with your friends?