When it comes to relationships, humans aren’t as good at maintaining them as you would think. There’s even an oft used metaphor for the paradox of human intimacy, known as the hedgehog’s dilemma, wherein the hedgehogs are stand-ins for human being, and their spines are the bad habits we all have that make it hard to maintain healthy relationships. You could say we’ve evolved as a society to fast for biological evolution to keep up, so our primitive biological impulses make it hard to get along with others. However, if you’re willing to work for it, you can make relationships work.

There are a number of ways to strengthen a relationship. Whether a romantic relationship or a relationship between friends, all relationships hinge on the same few key factors, so those are the areas you need to work on to maintain your relationships. First of all, your loved ones need to know they are loved. While you can just say you care and call it a day, actions speak louder than words. So, instead of telling them how you feel, show your loved ones you care. Be there for them and listen when they need to talk, and try to give them advice as needed.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that communication is key. If you’re having a problem with your loved ones, tell them, and encourage them to tell you when you’re doing something hurtful. An open and honest discourse is necessary for a successful relationship. If your relationship is hindered by distance, it is doubly important to communicate. Assuming you miss your friends, rest assured that they miss you, too, and reach out to them. If you don’t have the means to call them, grab a phone from Straight Talk and make the call. It’ll mean the world to both of you.