We were talking today over coffee , a time when I get a lot of inspiration for my article writing. We were discussing friendships and how disappointing it is when our friends let us down or fail to appreciate our point of view.
It led me to consider what it is that we actually expect from our friendships:
- Loyalty is important. We expect a friend to be in our corner, sticking up for us if something negative is said about us in our absence. We expect them to abide by our unspoken code, not flirt with our partners or date our exs, treat our children, friends, family, home with respect.
- Support is the cornerstone of friendship. If we're received bad news, are feeling hurt, bereft, have just lost our job, partner, are unwell it's reasonable to hope that our friend is there for us, listening to our story yet again, checking that we're okay, calling on us or keeping in touch by phone to ensure that we feel supported, loved and reassured by their presence.
- Kindness. Because a friend knows us so well they're able to provide the appropriate level of sympathy, motivation and kindness. We are able to trust that they say things others cannot say, perhaps provide an occasional reality check, but do so with the right intentions, helping us to heal and recover from tough times.
- Commitment. Friendship is about spending time together, sharing, talking, doing things together. So a friend does not drop us the minute they have a date, or cancel an arrangement if they get a better offer.
- Praise. A good friend knows the value of saying 'well done', or 'you look great'. They understand our insecurities, know how hard we've worked, how much certain things mean to us. Praise, given with genuine affection can help improve our confidence and enable us to move forward with better self-belief.
What we expect and what we get from our friendships can be a little different:
- It's possible to outgrow a friendship. Someone with whom we were close as a child may feel like a member of our family, but the truth may be the things we shared when we were young don't feature in our lives anymore. We may share lots of memories but very little similarities as adults.
- As adults our priorities can change and evolve. A friendship may be especially important to one person but to the other person with a family, partner, busy job, aging parents, it may be one consideration amongst many others.
- Some people acquire many areas in which they form friendships, so maintaining all their different groups of friends can prove time-consuming. There may be friends from childhood, from hobby and interest groups, neighbours, parents associations, work, plus the socializing that's often required from being part of a couple.
Maintaining friendships often requires tolerance, good humour and an appreciation of the many demands on each other's time, financial resources and energy levels. Sometimes an occasional phone call, email or text can be enough to sustain a friendship. And often when true friends meet, even after a long time apart, it's not uncommon to hear them say that it was as if they'd never been apart.
Susan Leigh is a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who works with stressed individuals to promote confidence and self belief, with couples in crisis to improve communications and understanding and with business clients to support the health and motivation levels of individuals and teams.
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