We all have hundreds of friends on social media these days … maybe even thousands. It’s so common, in fact, that it seems too obvious to even point out. Your mom has a thousand followers on Twitter. Your grandfather comments on your Facebook pics and tends to share inappropriate gifs.
These days, maintaining important relationships online seems totally normal.
But, family aside, how many of those hundreds of friends do you REALLY count as important in your life?
We’ve got these devices — our smart phones and laptops and tablets — that are supposed to make us feel more connected to each other. And sometimes they do. Sometimes the connections we make with technology can be life-saving.
But sometimes life on the other side of a screen can feel incredibly isolating.
Because we need more.
So how are we supposed to do to keep our real relationships … well … real? How can we tell if the people who are texting us heart emojis every day actually, truly love us?
Fortunately, there are signs we can look for — signs that the people we love are stepping up and offering us something of substance. (And they should expect the same in return.)
Texts are nice, but there are definite actions that those rare important people perform if someone is really that important to them. Actions that don’t involve phones or social media. Actions that make people step out from behind their screens.
Sometimes we just have to be there.
If a person tells you that they love you (and you want to know if they mean it), here are six things they should be doing all the time, regularly, as much as possible. These are ways to make people feel loved that EVERYONE should be doing — so, if you feel the same way, you should totally return the favor!
1. Drop by for a surprise face-to-face visit
In a study conducted by Ford Motor Company and YourTango, 55% of participants polled said that when a friend surprises them with a face to face visit, it made them feel totally loved.
Can you remember the last time you dropped by a friend’s house just to see their face, and say hello? Yes, we text about our day and communicate constantly, but nothing beats actually being in each other’s presence.
Studies have shown that being in the presence of the people we love is vital to keeping us happy and healthy. And it makes sense! Think back to the last time you hung out with a friend and laughed so hard you couldn’t breathe. There’s literally nothing that beats it.
2. Call to share good news instead of just texting
We can communicate with emojis, sure. I think many of us pride ourselves on our ability to weave an entire epic tale with strategic eggplant and frowny-face emoji.
That’s all well and good, but it turns out that even in this text-lovin’ age, 51% of all participants polled in the survey said that they would much rather hear their phone jingle and hear the roar of your congratulations on the other end.
Yes, a party hat and streamer emoji is cute, but you know what is so much cuter? Singing your own absolutely terrible personalized “Congratulations on Your Promotion at Guitar Center” song to your former roommate Stoner Dave.
3. Go for a weekend road trip
Studies show that 52% of adults on planet Earth (you know, this planet) seek out experiences that just CAN’T be replicated. Anyone can stay at home and order a pizza (and far be it for me to be critical of my favorite food), but when was the last time someone filled the gas tank, made a killer playlist, and just drove aimlessly with you for a couple of days?
You can’t remember, can you? That’s a damn shame! It’s a fact, lonely people don’t live as long as people who feel connected to their friends. SO STAY ALIVE, go on a remarkable adventure, you don’t need to be a millionaire to do it.
4. Tone down the multi-tasking
When people are multi-tasking, they might feel like they’re getting more done, but in fact they’re also getting more stressed. So let’s close our laptops, people. Ignore Pokemon Go. Mute that podcast. When someone is chatting with you (online or in person), they should be giving YOU all of their attention. They need to show that they value your relationship. And you need to do the same.
I mean, don’t be a creepy weirdo staring at them without blinking and gently stroking their face like some kind of monster, but we can all make more of an effort. We’ve all tried to talk to a friend or partner over the sound of their fingers clicking away on the keyboard. Be the change you want to see in the universe, y’all.
5. Remember to tell the people we love that we love them
My roommate now at the age of 33 is the roommate I was assigned as an 18 year old starting college. She’s my best friend. We’ve been there for each other for thick and thin. But ask me how often I actually tell her that I love her. The answer? Basically never.
If someone loves you, they should be telling you. (And vice versa.) Of course we should all be treating our special people with regular love and respect, but there’s something really special about making that eye contact and really TELLING the people you love that you’re thinking of them, and that they matter to you.
6. If you’re going through a tough time, they need to show up
The world is big and sometimes it’s scary. Bad things happen to everyone. When you or someone you love is struggling, the best thing we can do is activate our networks of support and really be there in that time of need.
Facebook wall posts can be meaningful, but people also need to pick up the phone. Show up, it’s good for you! Bring that devilishly delicious Frito pie perfect for soothing a sore heart and soul. Taking an active role in our social circles outside of the internet can make all the difference in the world in someone’s time of need.