Hey Sistah! Soul Sistah!
How do you define a good friend? Is it someone who you can turn to for support at your lowest moment? Someone who knows all your secrets and keeps them locked away? Someone who checks in on your well being? Someone who makes you feel comfortable being yourself? A great shopping and wine buddy? How we define a great friendship is unique to each of us but I do believe there are important components to having a rich friendship, one that adds to your well being more than it depletes you.
I came across a post today on Instagram by Alex Elle where she wrote about quality friendships, which inspired this particular blog piece. I wouldn’t say I’m a social butterfly but I will say I have a lot of close friends in my circle. I have friends who I’ve known for as long as 10 years to as little as 3. I have close friends that live up the street and I have close friends a plane ride away. I used to think that the length of time of the friendship was what made it a valuable friendship. However, as we get older, we go through life experiences that test our friendships.
Take a moment to evaluate the friendships you have and the people in your circle that are a reflection of you. Do you feel supported? Do you feel encouraged? Do you feel like you could pick up the phone to call them in an emergency and they would do everything in their power to help you through? On the other hand. Do you find yourself stressed after interacting with them? Do you only hear from them when it’s time to “turn up?” Do they mostly call you with the expectancy to be their therapist when they need advice for their own problems and can only offer “that’s crazy” when you discuss your problems? (I plan to write a post at a later date about setting boundaries in friendships.). Yes we go through tough times with our friends, however, a quality friendship should not add more stress than wellness to your life. A quality friendship should be based off of mutual respect, reciprocity, support, and genuine love.
I’m not a big fan of confrontation so whenever I would have an issue in a friendship I would avoid bringing it up so as to not ruffle any feathers that could cause the friendship to end. It was a hard lesson to learn that my approach was not the most affective way to handle these issues. This method of avoidance brings about resentment in your friendship which is not in any way healthy and hinders the friendship from further growing. I learned that my friends, the true ones, still stuck around whenever I decided to speak up on something that bothered me about our dynamic. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends what you need from the friendship. I’m a firm believer that a friendship is just like a relationship with an intimate partner. If they truly value your well being they will be open to hearing how they can support your needs.
I would say in my adulthood I’ve had to separate myself from a few close friends, now more than ever. Ones I had known since middle school. Others, I’d known just a short time. I’m sure others may judge me as quick to “cut someone off.” I like to think of it as being self aware of my needs and valuing my peace. I think of it as being quick to be able to assess and identify when someone is causing me more distress than peace. Someone you meet today can bring you more peace than someone you’ve known since kindergarten. In the words of Ms. Elle “I am allowed to leave people, places, and thins behind that are u healthy, toxic, and distracting to my growth.”
Have you had a friend in mind while reading this post? Have a chat with them. Address how you feel your needs aren’t being met and supported throughout the friendship. It’s ok to set expectations in a friendship and a relationship. Concerned about a friend who you haven’t interacted with recently? Check on them. A simple “how are you?” text can go along way. Trust me, I received a few of these during these past couple weeks and they made me more grateful for my friends because, although I hadn’t spoken up about it, I was experiencing major hurdles in my life.
Are you that friend who takes more than you give? Consider how you can be a blessing to your friends instead of a burden. Do a temperature check. Ask your friends if there’s any way you can support them with anything today, this week, this year?
I’m not encouraging you to “cut off” the friends that don’t meet the positive traits mentioned above. I’m challenging you to evaluate the quality of your friendships and encouraging you to express your needs to the people who you call your close friends. Also, if you’re that needy, possibly toxic, or “good time” friend (only around for the fun times,) I encourage you to explore ways in which you can be of support to those whom you truly value. I hope this post finds you well.