We all want to be friends, but sometimes our friendships aren’t as healthy as we’d like them to be. As much as we’d like for things to just work themselves out, it’s not always that easy. That’s why it’s important to know what you can do to improve your friendships and make them stronger than ever.

Friends Sitcom often depicts friends as people who are always there for each other, no matter what. That’s not really how most friendships work in real life, but it is important to have friends you can rely on. When you’re going through tough times or just need someone to talk to, being able to count on your friends can make all the difference. If you want to be a friend that others can rely on, here are five things you can do:

Here are five ways:

Accept that friendships take work.

Friendships can be a source of joy and happiness in your life, but they are not always easy to maintain. If you want to improve the quality of your friendships, it’s important to understand that friendship takes work. You should expect some challenges and misunderstandings along the way because friendship is complicated and unique for each person involved.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your friendships without having a meltdown or getting frustrated, there are several ways you can do so:

  • Accept that friendships take work
  • Don’t compare yourself with others’ friendships

Be a better listener.

It’s easy to get distracted by your own thoughts or the things happening around you, but it’s important to focus on what your friend is saying and how they feel about it. If you’re having trouble staying focused, try putting away your phone or other distractions, taking deep breaths and using whatever meditation techniques have worked for you in the past.

If this is still too difficult, ask them if they’d prefer talking over coffee rather than by text message or email so that they can see the look of “what?.” on your face when they say something that surprises you, your facial expressions are great ways of letting people know whether or not they’re making sense.

Be honest and direct.

You can start by being honest and direct. When you communicate, say what you mean, feel, and think. Be clear with your intentions and express yourself in a way that allows others to understand where they stand with you. 

For example: if someone is making fun of something that’s important to you, don’t be afraid to give them a warning or straight up tell them it’s not okay for them to make fun of those things. If there are things about the friendship that bother you or drive up your stress levels, speak up about it. Don’t just let it go because “it’s fine” when clearly it’s not fine at all, because then no one wins in the end (and we don’t want anyone losing.)

Give yourself time to recover from conflict.

According to the American Psychological Association, it can take up to two weeks for your brain to fully process an emotional experience. That means it might be best to give yourself some space from your friend during this time, so that you can reflect on what happened and make sure you’re not only doing what’s right for yourself but also applying compassion toward your friend.

It also helps if you remember that this conflict is coming at a time when everyone is likely experiencing high levels of stress thanks to final exams, papers due and finals week in general. So before things get heated again, remember: everyone’s emotions are running high right now. It might help both of you if each person knows how the other feels about this issue, and what they need from each other, before deciding how or even whether they want to continue their friendship after everything’s said and done.

Be willing to change.

The first thing you can do to improve your friendship skills is be willing to change. This does not mean that you need to overhaul your entire life or become someone completely different; it simply means that you are willing to accept the fact that there may be ways in which you could improve yourself and your relationships with others. It also means being open-minded about the changes other people suggest for you, whether they’re related to friendship or not.

For example: if one of your friends tells you something about yourself that makes them feel uncomfortable or unhappy around you, but isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker in itself (e.g., “I get tired when we talk too much because I’m introverted”), then try being receptive and considerate rather than defensive or judgmental (“Ugh. Don’t tell me how I should behave.”).