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Before calling time on a long-term relationship, couples will often take drastic action to save their romance – whether that’s signing up to counselling or going on a ‘make or break’ trip.

But when it comes to friendships in crisis, people tend to take the exact opposite approach, allowing the relationship to drift past the point of no return. 

But now British friendship coach Sue Tappenden has revealed the ways to regain the spark in a friendship. 

Speaking exclusively to FEMAIL, the expert, from Kent, also explained how to know it’s time to say goodbye to a toxic friend.

Friendship expert Sue Tappeden, from Kent, has shared the seven things all long-term friends should do (stock image)

Friendship expert Sue Tappeden, from Kent, has shared the seven things all long-term friends should do (stock image) 

1. Lower your expectations

Putting too much pressure on your friendships is only going to create problems down the road, the expert said. 

Sue explained: ‘None of us are perfect and so expecting our friends to be perfect at friend-ing all of the time is a road to disappointment, fall-outs and distress. 

‘A great rule of thumb is to be the best friend that you want to have – caring, flexible, understanding, forgiving, honest, encouraging, fun, thoughtful and whatever else is needed. You reap what you sow.’

The friendship coach (pictured) urged people to be 'caring, flexible, understanding, forgiving, honest and fun' with their pals if they want to have them in their lives for a long time

The friendship coach (pictured) urged people to be ‘caring, flexible, understanding, forgiving, honest and fun’ with their pals if they want to have them in their lives for a long time

 2. Space is healthy (and not always a bad sign!)

There’s nothing like a demanding job or young children to take your mind off your friendships – and Sue urged people to be forgiving when it comes to a change in life circumstances.

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When to walk away from a ‘toxic’ friend: 

The timeline of a friendship is never a good measure of its strength or health but more how we feel about ourselves when we are around our friends. 

Anything short of feeling valued and supported by them needs our attention. 

If we walk away from spending time with a friend feeling somehow “less than” or unseen, or unheard, or criticised, or judged or taken advantage of in any way – we need to ask ourselves if they are truly the sort of friend that we want and need around us – and the answer is probably no they’re not. 

It takes courage to walk away but a toxic friend who is depleting and not supporting our self-esteem is usually worse than no friend at all. 

The reality is that good friends can be found in unexpected places and strong bonds built on trust, support and care can grow really quickly. 

Never compromise on the quality of your friendships. Quality not quantity. Always. 

She continued: ‘Like all healthy and meaningful relationships, great friendships ebb and flow over time as individual priorities change. Family needs, work pressure, a new partner and more can shift the focus away from friends at times. 

‘Trust that it’s normal, it’s probably not about you and be patient – you might miss their company but they need to know you’re waiting for them, no pressure.’

3. Show them you’re thinking of them

It might not be possible to see them as much as you’d like to – but Sue says a crucial part of reinforcing your friendships is to show your support through good times and bad.

The coach continued: ‘Good friends understand the obvious and the not-so obvious – it’s often the secret sauce that highlights a deep friendship from the others. 

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‘Show them you understand with a thoughtful gift that you know they’ll love, a quick check-in message when something big is going on for them, encouragement to meet up when you know they’re feeling down, offering a listening ear.’

4. Always have something in the diary

It’s all too easy to drift apart with your close friends if you don’t have anything in the diary to look forward to together.

As such, the expert recommends pinning each other down with standing dates where you can.

Sue said: ‘When life is busy, finding enough time to enjoy each other’s company, to chill out, relax and have fun with friends can be really tough. 

‘Sit down together and plan ahead – nights out, shopping trips, weekends away – whatever you love to do together. Get it in the diary and get started on making it happen.’

5. Reserve your judgement

In order to maintain strong and healthy friendships, Sue says it’s important that your pals never feel judged around you. 

6. Small and regular contact 

You don’t need to be having hour-long phone calls each and every day to stay close with a friend – in fact, the expert said the closest friends aren’t necessarily the ones who see each other all the time.

Instead, they’re the friends who speak little and often. 

Sue said: ‘We all know how lovely it feels when a friend understands you so well that they just know …. what interests you, what you love and hate, what will make you laugh or cry and so much more. 

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‘Sending a link to something you know a friend will love, tagging them on a funny social media post or sending them a book “just because” will let them know you’re thinking about them. It’s always the thought that counts.’ 

She explained: ‘One of the brilliant things about being good friends is that you can both show up and be exactly as you are and it doesn’t matter. 

‘Whether it’s no make-up, unwashed hair, messy crying, bad cooking, tired and emotional or an untidy house – being able to be you without worrying about being judged is a huge gift.’ 

7. Tough love is a given (just package it with care!)

No friendships is ever going to be smooth-sailing 100 per cent of the time – but if you’re going to have a difficult conversation with a friend, make sure to approach it tactfully.

The friendship coach said: ‘There are times when our friends need to hear difficult stuff and sometimes our job as a bestie is to tell them like it is. We know them well, care deeply about them and all strong friendships are built on trust.

‘They may not like what they hear or agree with what you say but they will listen and quite probably thank you in the long run!

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