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Friendship. A complex platonic relationship with someone that either brings you immense happiness or leaves you
disheartened. Defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a relationship between friends”, this seemingly simple definition does not fully encompass what it truly means to be someone’s friend. It fails to mention the hard work and
effort required to form and build a solid friendship with someone, the compromises both parties need to make along the way, and the most difficult challenge of maintaining a healthy friendship.

After all the jitters, butterflies and excitement felt when you both realise that binge-watching The Office while eating cheese puffs is a shared hobby, the ‘honeymoon’ phase ends, and the difficult work begins. It is the choice to show
up for them when they go through a rough time or watching them achieve a milestone. Let us not forget the little things like laughing at a meme until both your bellies hurt. These are all the beautiful joys that come with this union.
However, maintaining these fruitful friendships tends to be quite challenging due to how busy life tends to become. It is challenging to learn how to navigate life as a semi-adult and work towards a steady work-life balance while trying to squeeze in ten minutes of self-care.

Tips to build and maintain a good friendship
You met a nice person last week, and they have now invited you out for ice cream. While eating the last spoon of your chocolate fudge ice cream you realise that this person might just be “the one”. You are both bouncing off each other’s energy. They love the 2014 Justin Bieber and hate it when people slur their r’s. At that very moment, you want them to be your friend forever. The next question is, now what? How do you go about starting this friendship with them?
Firstly, ensure that they are on the same page and have the same intention. Secondly, create a safe space where you both are comfortable enough to be yourselves. Thirdly, listen with intention and be attentive because no one wants to feel unwanted or unheard. Lastly, communication is key – this could be in-person conversations or a text every now and again to show them that you care.
Now that a solid friendship has been built, how should it be maintained? This is the stage where you learn your friend’s platonic love language and then apply those principles to the friendship. For example, if they are an “acts of service” person and they have been complaining about their defective USB, you could add it to their birthday list and purchase it once you have the money. This not only shows them that you were attentive enough to remember their complaints, but also that you care enough for them to fix this problem, which they will probably greatly appreciate. The second and most important tip is transparency and learning to set boundaries. Openness and transparency aid in building trust within the friendship, and you should both set boundaries which the other is obliged to respect.

Things around Hatfield to do with your friends
1. Javett Art Centre is a magnificent art gallery. It is located right on campus and provides free entrance for all registered University of Pretoria students, the perfect place for friendship dates that do not break the bank. Established in 2019, this gallery displays thought-provoking and unique forms of art, varying from sculptures and paintings to textile art forms. This place is ideal for friends who are interested in art, and the uninterested can still learn something new from the description that accompanies the piece itself.
2. If art is not your thing, you can have a tasty meal accompanied by your drink of choice at Capital Craft, located in Menlo Park. Here, you can work on bonding and spending quality time with your friends.
3. Other food-related places include the Blue Crane restaurant, the Hazelwood food market, and Mustang Sally’s (for a giant, American-style burger). Food has a funny way of always bringing people together, and you and your friends should take full advantage of this.
4. This suggestion is for all the fashionistas on a budget: The Vintage Square Thrift Fair, which is held at the Brooklyn shopping mall basement parking on the first Saturday of every month. This is the perfect opportunity to help the environment by purchasing used clothes to limit waste and also serves as the chance to get your creative juices flowing by compiling edgy outfits.
5. For all the nature-loving and outdoorsy friendships, the Pretoria Botanical Gardens is the perfect place to host some friends for a picnic accompanied by cheerful banter and board games.

Benefits of having a stable friendship
The Mayo Clinic has scientifically proven that having a solid friend can enrich your life and improve your health by increasing your sense of belonging and purpose. Spending time with friends has been shown to boost happiness and
reduce stress, as friends can help improve self-confidence and self-worth. Moreover, having someone to constantly rely on and “do” life with is an added benefit of having a friend. At the end of the day, going through life with friends by your side can enrich your life.
However, it is better not to invest in friendships where the effort and level of caring is not reciprocated. Ending a friendship, and detaching yourself from a toxic friend is sometimes required.

So, step outside your comfort zone today and kindly greet a stranger. For all you know, that person might be your future BFF.