Four Secrets Of Great Friendships

Our friends generally become fewer and farther away as we age. That delicious camaraderie we had in college and early working years has dissipated as our lives diverge. Some of us have big families now, some have small. Some have thrown themselves into busy careers, and some have made quiet pursuits their passion. The friendships we keep and nurture later in life become more precious, and are based less on life circumstances than shared kindness and openness.

My baby sister, age 48, is my closest friend, emotionally and geographically. We get to hang out pretty much any time we choose, and we have a long shared history (uh, 48 years). Some long friendships have come through Sandy, who had a tight circle of space-engineer friends back in the days of Cape Canaveral. And some friends came about through blogging, and may not be geographically convenient at all! I still want to meet Jill James, who lives in Tasmania. We’ll need more than a long weekend.


Hellllooooo, Jill.

I spent last weekend in Vancouver with four remarkable blogging friends. Most of us stayed in one hotel suite, so we were together a lot, and I loved that. It reminded me in all the good ways of dorm life in college, only without the acne and annoying boyfriends. Now that I’m home I’m reflecting on “what makes friendships work and last?”

Here are my thoughts, and I’d love to hear yours in the comments:

1. Respect your differences. We’ve all had wildly varying life experiences: from living abroad, late-life marriages, financial feast and famine, and various careers. True friends don’t judge their mates’ lifestyle, habits, or opinions harshly. We listen and see if we might could learn something to shake up our own ideas. There’s not just one right way to eat or think or shop or dress.

2. Empathize, the dig-deep way. Show curiosity about others’ experiences, good and bad. Try hard to put yourself in their shoes and feel what it’s like to be them. Let them know how it feels to be you.

3. Lean on them. It’s always been hard for me as a perfectionist to let my weaknesses show. It’s better for my happiness when I do, with the right people. Showing vulnerability, asking for and taking advice – these actions help form a bond of equality. We’re all in this together, and nobody I’ve met yet has ALL their poop in one bag, all the time.

4. Keep your word, always. Do what you commit to do, keep shared confidences tight to your chest. Be someone who can be counted on, rock solid. There are some people in our lives who have trouble with keeping their word, and they likely won’t stay our best friends for long.


The gorgeous Suzanne was the photographer here. Don’t we all look tickled to be at the “Used House Of Vintage”, a lively thrift shore in Vancouver. From left: me, Sue, Melanie, Sherry.


A kind passer-by took a picture of the whole gang.

Stay fabulous and treasure your friends, xo

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  1. I couldn’t have said it better Patti. Would have loved to be in Vancouver with you all. Don’t know Sherry (yet?) but she sounds like a hoot (is that the right expression?). I am lucky to live in a small country. Most of my friends, although not living as close as in my younger days, still live at a commutable distance (like 2 hours drive utmost). It is my blogger friends who are all over the world. Alas.

  2. A very thoughtful post on how to nurture friendships. Friends are such a huge and important part of your life! Love the photo of all five of you together! xxx

  3. I felt rather envious seeing the photos of you together with the gang, and wishing I could have joined you. I’m glad you were able to get there and have some quality blogger friend time. I find as I get older I “know” more people, but the people I would call really true friends get smaller in number. The points you list are good ones. Being able to count on someone to be there for you when you need them, and being able to be there for them in return is a big one for me.

    • I wish you’d been there too, Shelley, it’s such a pleasure to spend time with you. xo

  4. You gals must have had so much fun! I think to be a really good friend you need to be someone who can be counted on through thick and thin. Not everyone will stick by you when the going gets rough. I treasure my girlfriends who have been there for me even when I wasn’t at my best.


  5. I most certainly hope that one day we will be able to sit together over a nice glass of wine and have that in depth conversation.
    I so agree that over time our friendships change but become meaningful. Your ideas are spot on. You can tell from the photos how much you all enjoy each others company, you all look splendid.

    • Yes, would love to share a couple of glasses with you! Thanks for the kind words, xo

  6. Fewer but better friendships are really what I crave as I get older. Knowing someone keeps their word and is loyal is essential. Great points Patti!

  7. It really felt like we were in a bit of a safe sharing circle when we were there didn’t it? I agree with all of your points listed. Knowing that someone has your back is HUGE.


    • It is, isn’t it? Got to lean on your friends sometimes, and it’s lovely. xox

  8. Great advice, Patti! I would probably only add to it one thing – be forgiving. We all have shortcomings! I think that, just as true love, true friendship can only be mutual – when both sides are madly in love, not when one loves and the other allows it.
    Good to see you all happy together! <3

  9. Glad you had such a great time in my Vancouver. You all look amazing (as always) and I’m sure you dazzled everyone who saw you with your combined awesomeness!

  10. You all look offing amazing—-Used House of Vintage lmaooooo Yes, it’s exactly where you want to be. I love these tips for friendship. Keeping your word <3 all so good.

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