If you’re my friend and not receiving a gift from me (which none of you are!), I hope that you find my gift of friendship enough for the holidays.
Like any relationship, we all of our own definitions of what a good friendship is. Here is what I VALUE in a friendship:
- Fun! I think this is self-explanatory.
- Celebrating and Recognizing Accomplishments. Drinks are awesome and even better if there’s a good reason for them!
- Respect and Honesty. Most of us don’t like the truth, but if we first respect others, being honest comes easier. This doesn’t mean that you have to be honest about everything (i.e. I hate that shirt on you), just about things that the other person needs to know (i.e. I saw your significant other cheating on you). When I respect someone, I will do my best to be honest with them without trying to hurt the other person.
- Listening and Supporting. Support can often come in the form of listening. The best listening happens when I have no agenda and put own my thoughts and feelings second to the person I am listening to. Listening doesn’t mean giving your advice or opinion. It’s just listening. How often do we really take the advice of others when you ask for it? My theory is that sometimes we seek advice so that we can hear something that validates our own opinions.
- Accepting others for who they are. That means recognize other’s VALUES and FAULTS and being okay with it. If your friend values drinking everyone night and you can’t accept that, it’s time to call it quits! Nagging your friend about what you don’t value every time you see him/her does not make for a good relationship.
- Participating even when you don’t want to! That doesn’t mean saying “YES” every single time, but it’s important to occasionally show up for activities, especially for significant life events.
- Helping when asked as long as it’s within your capabilities and only if you can do so without harming yourself.
- Helping when not asked. Sometimes we don’t know that we need help or are too frazzled to ask for help! If I say “Yes, thank you so much!” then I want help. If I say “No”, and you keep insisting to help me, you’re no longer being helpful, you are now BOSSY!
- Respecting boundaries. No means no!
- Agree to Disagree. It’s fine that we have different opinions. That’s why I like you!
- Apologizing and forgiving/letting go. I personally don’t need verbal apologies, because let’s face it, there are so many ineffective apologies! Apologizes and forgiveness are often mistaken as something that has to be said. That’s not the case at all. What good is it if someone apologizes, but does the same thing over and over again? Do more apologies help? NO! What I do appreciate is someone who recognizes a wrong and takes action. That’s the best way move forward.
- Interdependency. When we are young, we are DEPENDENT on our family to take care of us. When we grow up and support ourselves, we are INDEPENDENT. Sometimes we don’t and still need others to support us (especially emotionally by relying on others to give ourselves value) and we are CODEPENDENT. INTERDEPENDENCY happens when all participating in the relationship can mutually benefit and exist independently. For example, an adult child moves back to his/her parent’s house. She/she pays rent which in turn helps to decrease the parent’s mortgage. The child isn’t reliant on the parents to provide housing, but makes a choice to. The parents financially benefit from the situation, but no longer dictate most aspects of the adult child’s life. The key difference between codependency and interdependency is the power dynamic. In codependent relationships, there is an imbalance of power, whereas one party has more control over the other. In interdependent relationships, all parties have about an equal amount of power. In short, if one party left an interdependent relationship, no one’s world would crumble. For more, check out this article.
As you can tell, I tell friendships seriously. Like many people do, I have different kinds of friendships. Sometimes they change and that’s okay. It makes life interesting and opens up more possibilities for learning.
In the spirit of learning, I would love to hear what you think. What do you value in friendships?