Easy & Effective Ways To Strengthen Your Most Important Relationships

Your relationships deserve a little extra effort.

More than anything in the world — from fancy cars to diamond rings — our relationships are our most prized possessions. And like most important things, they require dedication. After all, you can’t leave a relationship on the shelf to collect cobwebs and then expect it to function as it did before.

One of the best ways to strengthen a relationship is to show the other person just how much they mean to you. This can be done in many ways, from keeping in touch and checking in often to surprising them with unexpected gestures like a fresh bouquet of flowers. (But luckily, there is no wrong way to show someone how much you love them.)

And don't worry — if you're coming up empty trying to find a way to express how much someone means to you, Bustle teamed up with Hallmark to round up the easiest and most effective ways to strengthen the relationships that make life so sweet. These ideas came straight from the Bustle community, and their answers might just make you laugh, cry... and then mail your BFF a card that makes them laugh and cry.

1. Set Some Meaningful Calendar Reminders

It's basically impossible to remember every big event in a friend's life, but that’s why Anna relies on her calendar to help show she cares. “Sometimes I set a reminder to check in after big interviews or [a friend’s] first day back after maternity leave,” she says. This small gesture takes just a moment and goes a long way.

2. Send A Card

Ilana has been sending her friends cards “for legit everything” for as long as she can remember. During quarantine, she would mail thoughtful "thinking of you" cards, and she continues to purchase “birthday and specific holiday cards for people months in advance!” For Ilana and so many others, a greeting card isn’t just a way to reach out and stay in touch. It’s a memento you can look to over and over again as a symbol of your strong relationship. Don’t believe it? See what a card can do.

3. Send Them A Photo

If you find yourself having an exceedingly busy week or month but still want to let a friend know they’re a priority, Brittany suggests this easy method of keeping in touch: “Anytime I see something that reminds me of someone, I snap a picture and send it to them," she says. “It’s always nice to let someone know they’ve crossed your mind.”

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Pry

As Lucas points out, oftentimes people aren’t asked about the specific things going on in their lives, which in turn means they don't get many opportunities to talk (or vent!) about them. In this case, strengthening the relationship means being that person to get your pal to open up. “Unless you embark on seeing what’s really up with your friends, you won’t get there,” Lucas adds.

5. Spend An Entire Day Together

Though it’s hard to carve out more than a couple of hours in today's busy schedules, Rafay finds it helpful to spend an entire day hanging out with a friend. “This could include planned ‘fun’ activities or just errands,” he says. “I’ve been surprised by how much good conversation and bonding happens during days that seem boring or arduous — like moving, working through a long list of errands, [or even] picking someone up from the airport.”

6. Be Present In The Conversation

In addition to listening, strengthening a meaningful relationship requires back and forth conversation, jokes, and love. Marj says the biggest gift she can offer is truly being present. “I will often ask ‘Would you like feedback?’ or ‘Can I reflect back what I'm hearing?’” to remind the person that they’re being heard.

Any of these tips can go a long way toward adding more joy and fulfillment to your life. But when it comes to leaning into the most personal way to strengthen your treasured relationships, there's just something about surprising a loved one with a thoughtful card that will never lose its charm.

This post is sponsored by Hallmark.