Aside from your family, friendships are likely to be some of the most important relationships in your life. They will grow and change over time, and they fill the need for human connection. Everyone’s idea of friendship could vary slightly, but overall, people want to feel loved, motivated and inspired.
I went through highschool thinking my best friends were going to be there with me through it all; college, marriage, babies and work. Turns out, people grow apart and most of my best friends from highschool, I haven’t spoken with since graduation. We all went to different colleges and formed new friendships.
When I look back now, I’m really not all that surprised. At 33 years old, I feel like I have a better understanding of friendship and relationships and value it much higher than before. I no longer care to ‘sit with the cool kids’, but rather, I want to surround myself with others who are kind, inclusive and loyal. I will not settle for less.
Negative Energy Sucks the Life Out of You
We’ve all had that one friend who is just negative. Nothing can really go right in this person’s life, dark clouds follow them wherever they go and they just suck the life out of you. It’s simply exhausting to be friends with someone like that. Bad days don’t bother me. We’re all human and not everyone is a happy, eternal optimist all the time, but I would hope an adult could find something good in each day. You’ve likely heard the saying, ‘be the energy you want to attract.’ Just remember that you are able to decide the kind of energy you allow in your life and that you also have the power to walk away. Trust me, when you let go of that energy, you will be left wondering why you waited so long. You will feel free.
Quality Over Quantity
When you’re younger, friends are all that matter. I don’t believe I was ever home on the weekends during high school, because I preferred to be with my friends. Values and priorities tend to shift the older you get, and for me, I prefer to share my free time with others who have the same values and priorities. That typically includes my kids. So I love having friends who enjoy spending our time together as families.
Know who cheers you on behind your back, who shares unwavering support for you in all of your endeavors, who lifts you up when you are down and loves you unconditionally. Those are the friends you should be sharing your time with. Those are the quality relationships that will last.
Genuine and Authentic over Appropriate and Polite
Be okay with saying no. Also be okay with standing up for yourself and knowing your worth. If your friend is someone who won’t do the same for you in your absence, that’s a relationship that needs work. Always do what you know to be right and what makes you most comfortable.
I personally will not attend certain events or outings if I know a certain someone will be in attendance, even if other close friends of mine are attending. That is not because I am allowing that person to control me, or keep me from having fun. It is in fact the opposite. I know what kind of energy I want to surround myself with and I choose not to put myself in that situation. It works for me, and my closest friends undertand and respect that.
A relationship cannot be sustained if it is based off of superficial common interests. Now, don’t be fooled by that, because common interest is good, however, I’m referring to one’s values and goals, and development of character. A true friend supports you and uplifts you; celebrates your successes and cheers you on. You both should want what is best for the other, and to be willing to work on that together too.
We all want meaningful relationships and want to know that we aren’t wasting our time. What a disappointment to feel like you’ve been duped after months -or even years- of being a good friend to someone where it isn’t reciprocated. Now, I’m not about the victim mentality, but you have to know where to draw the line and you must also know when to forgive. I will admit this does not come easily for me, but forgiveness in a relationship demonstrates maturity, and even patience.
I am a huge proponent, however, of removing negative energy when necessary; if a friendship leaves you feeling unhappy, unfulfilled and exhausted, it’s probably time to walk away. I do believe some relationships like this can be salvaged, but it is up to you to decide if it is a relationship you are really able to work on together. Together is key.
I do not think it is unreasonable to set expectations for a friendship if you are willing to reciprocate. Relationships are built on the foundation of trust and communication and need both to be successful. As a parent, I tend to choose my close friends more carefully, as I want to model what healthy and appropriate friendships should look like for my children. As stated above, not everyone has the same definition of friendship and that is okay. There is no rule stating that you must be friends with everyone you meet.
Kind, yes. But friends, no.
What do you value in a friendship? Do you struggle with patience or forgiveness? Do you have 3 best friends or 30?