I’ve oodles of ideas for improving your romantic relationship.

I’ve tested and written about most of them, including the Blame and Criticism Diet of 2013. (I can say with seven years of practice, that Tim and I are pretty much there.)

We’ve been through several cycles of relationship renewal in 35 years. When people marvel, I tell them it’s like the 10-year “overnight success.” Attention to each other, plus commitment to individual growth is part of the recipe.

You’ll find my favorite relationship books below, including as always Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks. My friends Kaley and Nate Klemp have a new relationship book coming out on February 9 that I think you’ll like. And I wrote about how much Tim and I learned from marriage experts John and Julie Gotman’s Eight Dates last year.

So let’s talk friends.

You’ve heard that you’re the sum of the five people you hang out with, right? And that friendship is critical to your emotional well-being. And it may be darn hard to keep your friendships in this pandemic, but for your mental health, please try. You need them more than ever.

I’m among the many people who say it’s not easy to make friends. (Apparently, that goes back to the evolutionary need to know your enemies.) I know lots of people and I have a handful of close friends, two of them from childhood.

Being a bestie doesn’t just happen.

In a study of students, and adults who had just moved to town, it took the students 119 hours to become good or best friends. Adults took an additional 100 hours to reach that level of closeness. That’s more than 200 hours of being together and talking and sharing about lives, not small talk. That’s almost four hours per week!

So, how do you get that when you’re distant?

  1. Let yourself be seen. Be vulnerable. Tell people what’s really going on with you. Go first in saying, if you really know me you would know…
  2. Rekindle dormant ties. Tim and I Zoomed with a couple we hadn’t seen since leaving New Jersey seven years ago. We picked up right away over shared interests, pandemic cooking and our kids.
  3. Be intentional about what you want from friendship, says host of Call Your Girlfriend, Aminatou Sow. Inner circle or just beer and pickleball? That’s the question we’re asking in a long-standing friendship of mine that’s being repaired and reimagined.
  4. Go on a date, even if it’s virtual or socially distant, and then follow up. Ritual is really important for connection, especially friendship, says Adam Smiley Poswolsky, author of the forthcoming book Friendship in the Age of Loneliness.
  5. Join or form a group of people who support each other in work, reading books or just getting together regularly to talk. My mastermind group celebrates its second year this month. We’ve met every month for two hours. I’ve never met one of the women in person, but I feel as close to her as the other two. (Conscious Leadership Circles offer connection and learning. “I can’t believe we got this close, this fast… and on Zoom,” one participant said after our first meeting. Next one starts in March. Email me to for an invite.
  6. Stay connected through non-work venues like Marco Polo, a video app whose sole purpose is helping people feel close.

Fun Fact: Zoom was born so the founder could talk to his girlfriend when they were apart!