Where would we be without our friends? Our buddies are our sounding boards, our supports, our allies through thick and thin. But like anything good in our lives, friendships take dedication and effort. There’s lots we can do to make our friendship stay strong. Check out these fundamental ways to grow closer and deepen your connection.

Be Vulnerable

A vital part of friendships is the ability to reveal our true selves, especially the parts that scare us. Be honest about your struggles and don’t be afraid to show your insecure side. While it may feel uncomfortable, opening up to the right people will actually bring you closer together.

Show Gratitude

No matter how much we love and appreciate our friends, so many of us simply forget to express that out loud. So go ahead and say it! A simple “thanks for being in my life” or “I’m so glad to know you” will do.

Be Present

When you meet with your friend, be present with them (i.e. put away your phone and don’t rush to change subjects). Listen and showthat you’re listening, especially if they’re going through a rough time. Close relationships aren’t necessarily about having the perfect response, but being able to just sit with one another, in good times and bad.

Put in Time

Even the longest and strongest of friendships can start to fade as we get busier or shift our priorities (family, job, etc.). When that happens, be mindful and make a concerted effort to reach out and follow up. Set aside time in your schedule or calendar that is specifically devoted to catching up.

Try Something New

Just like any relationship, our friendships can suffer from a sense of monotony. Partaking in fun and interesting activities creates lasting memories and strengthens your connection. Embark on a trip or try a new activity together.