Numerous studies have shown that friendship is crucial for mental health and survival. A study with 271,053 people of all ages showed that friendships positively impact your happiness and health. Even better friendships can make you live longer. Friendships can impact your quality of life and health more than relationships with family or marriage.

Research shows that people who have strong, supportive friendships are happier than those who don’t. Contrary to popular belief, people who are married or in long-term relationships are happier than single people. People actively seeking new friendships tend to be happier with their lives.

Your friendships are a reflection of how much you care about them. There are two options: you can have long-standing friends or meet new people. Whatever your situation, there are always ways to strengthen the bonds and make friendships last.

These are some research-based tips that will help you improve your friendships.

Be trustworthy

A friendship is built on trust. It’s your responsibility as a friend to protect your privacy and not reveal anything personal. This could be done by letting them know explicitly, so they feel comfortable sharing their personal information.

Learn how to forgive

Every relationship experiences conflict, even friendships. Sometimes people disappoint one another, and sometimes you might be unable to do the right thing for them. This does not mean that you or your friend are bad. Remember that this is only one moment in a relationship and not the whole. Talking to your friend in person and being kind about your feelings is a good way to manage conflict. Find a solution that respects both the needs and feelings of each person.

Be available

Being available to your friend in times of need and good times is a big part of friendship. You can still be there for your friend by answering their texts and calls. Your friend will notice if you don’t show up regularly, and it will let them know that you are not as invested in the relationship.

Make friendship a priority.

You must treat your friendship with respect. Sometimes we get too involved in our careers, families, and even new romantic relationships. Some of this is normal. It is important to recognize this and make an effort to prioritize our friendships. You don’t want to be unable to communicate with your friend for several months. Try to maintain regular contact. It isn’t easy to meet in person, so make sure to let your friend know by sending messages or calling that you are still in touch.

Be a good listener

Your attention is one of the greatest gifts you can give a friend. Pay attention to your friend, even if they aren’t feeling well. You will feel more connected to your friend if you provide a safe place for them to share their feelings with you. You can validate your friend’s feelings by listening to them and saying that you are sorry they are having trouble. Paraphrasing what they have said is a great way to show someone you are listening.

Don’t lose heart

Sometimes you can withdraw from the world when you’re in great pain. Let your friend know that you will be there for them no matter how they feel. Encourage them to participate in fun activities, even if they are only for a brief time. Sometimes it can seem like you’re imposing but reminding them that you don’t fear their pain and difficulties can help them keep moving forward.

Remember important days

You can spot important moments in your friends’ lives if you pay close attention. Birthdays, anniversaries, and the day a friend got a pet or broke up are all likely significant. These moments will let your friends know you are interested in their lives and care about them.

Thank you

It is a great way not to take a friendship for granted. To make them feel valued, you can be open about it to them. You can send them a simple text message to express your gratitude for their contributions or write a thank you note via email.

Maintaining a friendship takes effort, just like with any other relationship. The only rule you should remember when it comes to friendship care is to treat your friends the way you want to be treated.