Saturday, July 20, 2024
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By Rachel SunterHealth Columnist

Recently a number of friends have recently come to me in various states of unhappiness. Some of them are in relationships, some are single. A thick common thread I’ve found between them, however, is their lack of quality time spent with friends.
After moving out and dunking our heads in the Halifax drinking scene, it’s amazing how months can fly by and few meaningful connections are really sustained. Each year, we get bigger workloads at school, have to start paying student debts, and watch as new friends and old roommates are whisked out of Halifax as their lives unfold elsewhere.
Especially in our early adult years, with the marital chase sailing across the distant horizon, it can be easy to fall into the romantic fulfillment trap. In perilous search of a date, many people forget how important it is to put time and energy into those other relationships in our lives: our friends.
A hundred nights out may build you an army of chummy Facebook pics, but when your personal life goes askew, those party-made friendships can feel surprisingly feeble. It’s important to remember that all good relationships – not just the sexual ones – need quality time to build feelings of trust, compassion and acceptance.
In high school, everyone was forced to hang out every day, so best friends seemed to happen naturally. In the adult world, it can take a conscious effort to set aside time for friend-making. That’s no indication of you being less appealing or fun; it’s the reality of everyone having a unique schedule.
Quality time means time spent with someone in which you have each other’s complete attention, whether directly, or by mutually sharing in an enjoyable activity. Drugs and alcohol compromise your attention, and detract from true quality time. Because of this, it’s no surprise that joining groups or teams, and volunteering will bring you closer to people with whom you could share quality time.
If that sounds like too much, you can still strengthen acquaintances into better friends. Pick your targets, and set up some friend-dates. Just like romantic dates, if you want to get closer to your friends, don’t just wait for it to happen – make it happen. If you’re not feeling comfortable enough to invite a friend one-on-one, think up a group activity to bring people together where you can share in a mutual interest.
There are several different types of friend-dates you can have in Halifax. Trivia nights are great for bringing different friends together and bonding over common or obscure knowledge. Check out campus and downtown bars for different weekly nights.
Picnics or tobogganing, weather permitting, can be a good way to get outside. Being outdoors entices freedom and laughter to all. Citadel Hill is great for bonding in any season.
Hockey, football, Ultimate Fighting Championship nights and watching real life sports in the city can be good group activities. This is particularly helpful if you’re actually into the sport or teams you’re watching. Come winter, we’ll get the Olympics too. In live action sports, there’s less conversation, and more cheering – but it’s still quality time. Campus games are also a good low-cost option.
Karaoke, dinner parties, playing sports and making crafts are all ways to hang out with new people and have fun.
When you’ve been off your friend-game for a while, it can be hard to get back into the scene. Just remember that there is no shame in friend-dating; you’ll both have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
All friendships are open relationships, so you don’t have to worry about cheating or changing your relationship status. And the real best part: according to studies in longevity, spending quality time with friends has been correlated to better health and longer life. Try getting by with a little help from your friends.


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