Nine additional ways to show your friends you care, as suggested by NPR listeners

Malaka Gharib/NPR Image 1 Malaka Gharib/NPR Image 2 How do you show your pals that you care and appreciate them?

We surveyed NPR’s listeners to find out how they express affection in platonic relationships. This is a follow-up to a Life Kit episode and article we aired last month with psychologist and friendship expert Marisa Franco about the science of creating and retaining friends. According to her, small acts of kindness can reassure your friends that you actually care about them and that they can put their trust in you as a friend.

Franco gave more than a dozen illustrations of how to be kind to friends (see the graphic below). The thoughts added by our audience were also excellent. Here is a sample of their submissions from the Life Kit inbox, NPR’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. For the sake of length and clarity, these comments have been modified.

A handwritten list of ways Marisa Franco, psychologist and friendship expert, says you can show affection to your friends. The list includes: Tell them how much they mean to you. When they reach out, tell them how happy you are to hear from them. Be excited at their good news. Compliment them. Praise their hard work. Greet them warmly, and more.

Malaka Gharib/NPR 1. Send them a considerate book.

The majority of my buddies are readers. I choose books that include poetry, short tales, novels, or autobiographical essays and send them to friends who will read and reflect thoroughly on the content. That contains The Kural by Thomas Hitoshi Pruiskma, At the Center of All Beauty by Fenton Johnson, and Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke.

I occasionally include a handwritten letter explaining the book and why I think they’ll enjoy it. When they’re done reading the book, I’ll frequently ask them to donate it to a Little Free Library or give it to a friend who might like it.

When I get a book that someone has picked out for me, I feel incredibly touched and cared for. It conveys concern for my inner existence and general wellbeing. Seattle, Washington’s Shin Yu Pai

2. Try your best to attend.
I’ve known Mindi and Patricia since we were children, and we are two of my closest friends. This year, we’ll turn 58 years old.

I try to make the trip to see them and their kids. Additionally, they go out of their way to see me and my family. For instance, Mindi and Patricia both traveled a great lot to attend my daughter’s college graduation ceremony when she was a senior. Someone said he didn’t have a single friend who would have traveled that far for him, much less for his child. Debra Fadely

3. Plan mutual surprises

I’ve known my best friend for more than ten years. Just because I love cats, she gave me sneakers with tiny cats all over them. Jennifer Hathaway

4. Inform them of what you’ve discovered from them.

Telling our friends, coworkers, or family what we have discovered from them is affirming. This may include learning how to cook, listen, or be a better friend. This activity shows the individuals in our lives that we value their opinions and listen to them. Sally S.

5. Examine the items that they send you.

I follow up on information they have provided to me (which might involve writing myself a reminder). In other words, I read the books, articles, and links they gave me, or I listen to the podcasts they provided me. Bristol, Vermont native Deborah Dickerson

6. Send arbitrary postal mail

Not just on birthdays or special occasions, I letter my friends to let them know how much I care and appreciate them. It might be a handwritten card, a postcard I collected while traveling, or something I discovered at a thrift shop. To let my pals know they are in my thoughts, I occasionally offer a thought-provoking quotation or simply a few brief words. I think that receiving this kind of mail brightens the recipient’s day and makes them feel valued and unique. Holland, Dana

7. Be present in trying situations

My acquaintance made the offer to join us for tea at the “assisted living” community where my parents had only just relocated. It’s not a place I enjoy going to, but I have to spend a lot of time there, and I generally come away from it feeling depressed and angry.

She offered to spend time with my parents, who were thrilled by her visit, and I was floored by the offer. This kind of consolation has never been given to me by anyone else. I still give thanks for the visit every day as I think back on it. Susie Wise

8. Present time as a gift.

I experience love when someone joins me for simple activities like sharing our sack lunches, going for a quick drink after work, or taking a short walk. These activities don’t have to be extravagant or expensive, though they can be enjoyable on occasion. Bettendorf, Iowa native Deborah Dayman

9. Inquire about their true condition.
Since my closest friends and I all live apart, we primarily communicate with one another through SMS, letters, and impromptu gifts.

I’ve discovered that you need to communicate about your life and inquire about theirs in order to maintain connection in long-distance friendships. And sometimes you have to be direct because I think we all strive to keep things good or don’t want to burden our friends with too much.

A good thing to ask them is: How are you really? How are your spirit, mind, and heart doing? Life becomes so busy and complicated, especially as one ages, that we grow accustomed to carrying a certain level of “heart load,” and sometimes we don’t even think to discuss it with our closest friends. However, it still feels wonderful to have a buddy ask and to briefly share the burden with them. Denver, Colorado’s Beth Weir

We appreciate everyone who responded to this request for submissions. Keep up with NPR Life Kit by subscribing to our weekly newsletter for more callouts similar to these.

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