How to be Intentional in Your Friendships: A Guide

While social media keeps us connected, there’s only so much connection that can be nurtured through it. Likes, comments, meme sharing, are all great, but they don’t foster deep human connection. It’s important, especially during Covid times and in the digital age, to not lose sight of being intentional and present in our relationships. A like doesn’t let someone know, “Hey, I’ve been thinking of you,” nor does a text message always get answered, as it might get lost amid the other 100 unread messages. Some of the best ways to be intentional and thoughtful in friendships require little to no technology at all. And, before you say that you don’t have the time to sit down and be intentional, think back to what other unintentional things you spend 5 minutes of your day on (scrolling, mindlessly, maybe?). Trust me. It will be worth it. Odds are you will not only connect to your friends better, but you will find your soul awakening, too. Here are some activities to try next time you’re thinking of someone: 

1. Send a written-on postcard. 

    This is perfect for out-of-state friends or if you happen to go out of town yourself. Remember souvenirs, before Instagram stories shared with everyone a piece of where we were? If your friend has moved out of the state, sending them a postcard is a thoughtful way of sending them a piece of home. What’s neat about them is that you can date them, documenting the moment in a more permanent way than any camera roll photo. When’s the last time you went back into your camera roll into the past? These days, we take 1000 photos that we never remember. One single postcard has the power to outlast any iPhone. 

Tip: If you or your friend are bookstore junkies, I highly recommend investing in the This Is My Bookstore: 100 Postcards of Beautiful Shops around the World collection. It’s a collection of 100 bookstore postcards around the world, including several U.S. states and cities. Send your friend a postcard from a bookstore in their current town or city. Or one that you’d like for both of you to explore either together or individually. Write your thoughts on one half of it and have them reply with their own experience on the other half, or they can send you a new one once they visit the bookstore. This would also make a great gift for a professor.  

2. Send something other than a “how are you” text. 

What’s the typical answer to a “how are you” text? Whether it’s for the sake of convenience, mindlessness, or discomfort in sharing how we’re really doing, we often reply with, “hey! I’m doing well. How are you?” Now, does that answer provide any insight at all as to how your friend is actually doing? As to how their day, week, month, has been? As to how they’re managing their courses? Definitely not. If we want more meaningful and insightful conversations, it’s time we ask more meaningful and insightful questions. Here are some suggestions (tip: write them down in your notes for future reference): 

  • Hey! How’s your week/day going? 

  • Hey! How are you feeling today? 

  • Hi! Just reaching out to check in on you. How’s life treating you? 

  • Hey! Miss you! Want to have a Facetime study session soon? We don’t have to talk much, but it’d sure be nice to have some company

3. Pre-write birthday messages/cards.

Saying happy birthday at all is surely nice, but even nicer is letting your friends know why you’re thankful for their lives and reminding them of how much they mean to you. On the day of someone’s birthday, we might not have the time to write a thoughtful message, which is understandable. However, if we are intentional about it, writing a message in notes ahead of time makes it possible to send a more meaningful message. If you’re one of those people who’s terrible at remembering birthdays and wait until the day of to see your friend post their tagged stories, make it a point to write down birthdays in your calendar.  

4. Next time you’re at the supermarket and can afford to spare a few dollars, consider buying a friend flowers and dropping them off at their door. 

Flowers brighten almost anyone’s day and space. If you’ve never thought of gifting your friends with flowers, it might be because the act is usually associated with romance. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s about time we start to show appreciation and love to our friends, too.