Make New Friends and Keep the Old: How to nurture existing relationships and confidently form new ones

Young adults hugging and smiling for a selfie. Nurturing relationshipsAs the new year approaches, it’s a good time to look back on the previous year and set goals for the next. Reflecting on accomplishments motivates us to do more of the same and keep those good feelings coming. Acknowledging what didn’t work out is just as important, allowing us to learn from those experiences and make adjustments in the future. With the many ups and downs of the past 12 months, it’s important to start 2022 with a focus on positivity toward yourself and others. These days, it’s more important than ever to nurture existing relationships and form new ones. When we prioritize self-growth and friendship, we feel stronger, more confident and more resilient. Let’s kick off the new year by setting some meaningful and achievable relationship goals.

Identifying and building on your strengths

Woman thinking on the couch and holding notepad and pen

Before you can develop stronger relationships, you need to feel good about yourself. Take some time for self-reflection, and write down what your identify as your qualities and strengths.

What is one trait you like most about yourself on which you could improve? Make nurturing and expanding this trait your goal for the upcoming year.

Think about the person you really want to be–whether it is braver, warmer, kinder, more authentic, more compassionate, a better listener–and focus on that. This is a good exercise to do with your children as well. Help them identify what they love about themselves and what they’re good at. Cheer them on, and encourage them to share their best qualities with others!

Be mindful, but don’t overdo it. Set a reasonable and achievable goal, and identify how you’ll evaluate your progress. Keep a journal, or ask a friend to give you regular feedback. Finding a way to keep yourself accountable will help you stay on target toward achieving your goal.

Nurturing your relationships

Our emotional well-being depends on our abilities to develop and maintain strong bonds with others. Feeling connected and supported boosts our confidence and helps us ride out life’s bumps and bruises with more resilience. But a relationship will not grow without care. It’s a give-and-take process and needs nourishment to thrive. Fortunately, there are plenty of tried and true ways to nurture existing relationships and confidently form new ones.

Maintaining existing relationships

Make time to spend together.

Businesswomen are walking to work together through the city. They are talking and one is holding a coffee while the other is holding a smartphone.

Even with busy schedules and hectic lives, it’s important to carve out time to spend with family and friends. Those who know and love us most can best lift our spirits, comfort and guide us. So, seek out opportunities to be together as often as possible. Creating a regular or weekly dinnertime routine that works with your family’s schedules is a great way to engage in regular check-ins. Invite your friend over for coffee, go for a walk with your sister, or take up a new art class with your partner. While you’re at it, encourage your loved ones to do the same. Sharing an experience together deepens the relationship.

Stay in touch.

Whether it’s friends, family, coworkers or classmates, there are more opportunities to stay in touch now than ever before. If you’re unable to meet in person, be sure to call, text, email or video chat. The method is not as important as the action. Keep the bonds in your relationships strong by sharing what’s happening in your life and staying up-to-date on what’s going on with others. Send photos, exchange book recommendations or music playlists. When you can’t be together, stay connected in other ways.

Forming new friendships

Say ‘yes.’

Six pre-teen friends piggybacking in a park

Accepting invitations to social gatherings is a great way to stay connected and meet new people. Although this may be tough for some, especially those who experience social anxiety, it’s worthwhile to nudge yourself outside of your comfort zone and give yourself the opportunity to interact with a variety of people. You may be pleasantly surprised by a new experience or an enjoyable conversation you didn’t expect to have!

Model this optimistic approach for your children, and be sure to leave a little room for flexibility. Some kids feel uncomfortable going to an unfamiliar house but would be fine inviting a new friend over. The goal is to create opportunities for new connection and grow relationships by saying ‘yes’ more often.


Is there someone whose company you enjoy but haven’t been able to spend time with? Maybe it’s someone with whom you’ve chatted in a group setting but would like to get to know better one-on-one. Or, perhaps it’s someone you recently met and would like to get to know. Moving past any fear of rejection, especially if you experience Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (which is common with ADHD), can be difficult. Take the first step toward relationship-building by initiating a conversation in whatever way feels most comfortable. Whether this becomes a new friendship or fizzles out, you will gain confidence and experience in the process.

When setting goals for the new year, set the tone with a positive, productive mindset. An optimistic approach will help you build confidence in yourself and in your relationships. Identify your strengths, and see if you can take them further or apply them to new situations. Nurture existing relationships and invest time in forming new ones. Be kind to yourself and know your limits. But make it a point to stretch yourself a little in order to grow and live a fulfilling and rewarding life.

Older woman holding tablet on video call, staying connected

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