'Friendship Rituals' Remove Stress From Hanging Out - Here's How To Create One

Our friends are an incredibly important part of our lives, but forging deeper adult friendships can be tough sometimes. Growing up, we could always count on seeing our friends at school every day and during activities. As we get older, it gets harder to reach people and find the time to see each other, so much so that making plans feels like a job itself. We've all experienced a time when someone says, "We should totally hang out soon," and nothing comes of it. Luckily, friendship coach, author, and educator Danielle Bayard Jackson advised how to prevent this from happening altogether and lift the stress of planning. 

In her viral video, Jackson suggests creating a friendship ritual, a standing date on the calendar when you and your friend(s) choose to do something together regularly, whether it's once a week or once a month. It's one consistent date that you can count on seeing each other and doing that activity. If you've been having difficulty planning things with your friends, you may want to implement this advice into your own life. Here's why friendship rituals can be helpful and how to start your own. 

The benefits of friendship rituals

First and foremost, friendship rituals remove the mental labor that comes with trying to plan. Rather than worrying about when and where you'll go each time or who initiates the hangout, the ritual creates a structure you all can count on. A lot of the time, planning will fall on one person, or the plans will fall through because neither of you can figure out what to do. With the ritual, you know you're having a movie night on the first Friday of each month, for example.

Friendship rituals also bring people closer together. In a 2018 article from the Personality and Social Psychology Review journal, experts analyzed the ways rituals play a role in our lives. "[P]erforming a group ritual enhances affiliation with fellow group members and advertises signals of group loyalty and trust. In such a way, shared performance can create a stronger feeling of connection to others," according to the article. 

In fact, one of the defining characteristics of a ritual is its predictable structure, which adds a layer of certainty to relationships. Therefore, regardless of everything else going on, you and your friend(s) have this time dedicated only to each other and the activity you agree upon, and knowing that you get this special time together will help you stay connected with close friends over time. 

How to bring it up with a friend

Even if it feels a little awkward at first, asking your friend about creating a ritual shows that you care and that you want to prioritize seeing them regularly. Whether it's over text, on the phone, or in person, you can ask them if they want to start doing an activity on a regular basis. Then, once you agree on something to do, you can figure out when it works for both of you. It can be as often as once a week, or if everyone is super busy, it's okay if it's simply once a month. Keep in mind, this works great for small groups of friends too. If one or two people can't make it, other people in the group can still get together.

One thing that could be frustrating about this is if the person isn't receptive to trying this out with you. If it feels like the friendship is one-sided and you're the one who constantly initiates hanging out, you may want to evaluate why you're staying in that long-term friendship. After all, your true friends will be the ones most excited to create a ritual with you.

Choosing an activity

It can seem overwhelming to decide on what to do together. However, remember the common interests you share with your friend or groups of friends. Perhaps, it's something you already do together but want to do more frequently. If you and your friends like being active, you can try taking a weekly exercise class, hiking, or playing a sport together. Do you have a common interest in music? Maybe the ritual can be getting together to jam or share new music with each other. If you enjoy food together, have lunch once a week or become a farmer's market regular and go every weekend.

In fact, fellow TikTok users on Danielle Bayard Jackson's video shared a lot of their own rituals in the comment section. One person said their friend group makes a standing brunch reservation every month for four people, and whoever can come will show up. Another person does Pilates every Sunday with their friend. Someone else said they have a Friday night movie night with their friend. There are really no limits. Just do what makes sense for you and your friends physically, financially, and when time permits. 

Committing to the ritual

The main idea of a friendship ritual is to maintain a level of consistency, so it's important to keep it up over a long period of time. You'll certainly feel a new level of closeness as you continue making friendship rituals. "My best friend and I have been [doing] this for years. We're literally sisters now," one person commented on Danielle Bayard Jackson's video.

Realistically, one of you may need to cancel if something comes up. It doesn't make you a bad friend if you have to cancel once in a while, and the same goes for your friend. After all, life gets in the way sometimes, and that's okay. The point of the ritual is to take away some of the stress that comes with making plans, so there doesn't have to be a lot of pressure involved. The ritual can certainly change as well, just as you and your friends change over time. Give each other permission to change your minds while still maintaining that consistency in the relationship. "Experiment with the idea, some kind of friendship ritual, and watch how that added layer of consistency in your friendship changes everything," says Jackson.