It can be easy in today’s technology world to allow our friendships to fall by the wayside of texting and tweeting and emailing instead of investing ourselves and our energy into actually spending quality time with people. And in an age where the phrase “I’m crazy busy” has become synonymous with “here’s my excuse why I’ve been a crappy friend to you”…I say it’s time to stop letting our friendships suffer in favor of work or Netflix or even romance. When all else fails…when the guy walks away or the dream job goes up in smoke or the seven-season series we’re binging on Netflix comes to an end (and what is life when that happens? I have to always spend a day gathering myself when a binge-watch is over)…our friends are the ones who will still be there. Rooting for us, supporting us, reminding us of who we really are when the rest of the world has forgotten. Having just come through a bit of a friendship storm with one of my dearest, I feel compelled to share what I learned through the experience. So here are a few ways you can (pretty easily) be a better friend.
- COMMUNICATION. Communication. Communication. If your friend does something to hurt your feelings, tell them. Be honest with them. And then give them a chance to change. So many times we get upset that someone isn’t meeting our needs when we haven’t bothered to communicate them. You have to give someone the CHANCE to change before you decide that they’re not capable of change. Communicate your grievance to your friend in an upfront and respectful way, let them know that what they did or didn’t do hurt you, and then give them the opportunity to make things right. 99% of the time, if it’s a true friend, they will be open to whatever you have to say and eager to modify their behavior the next time around so they don’t cause you unnecessary pain.
- Lower your expectations. Your friends don’t have to be Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha to still be really amazing friends. And also don’t expect something from a friend that you wouldn’t be willing to do for them. You have to first BE a friend to HAVE a friend. I have found that I tend to walk around expecting people and myself and LIFE to be a certain way so often, I never really allow myself to just enjoy what they are, what I am, and what it is. A wise man once said: “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” Learn to drop the preconceived notion of who you think your friends should be and just embrace who they are, in all their imperfect, flawed, broken glory. No friend is ever going to be perfect. And that’s good news. Because guess what? You aren’t, either. Don’t expect a standard from others that you aren’t even meeting yourself.
- Understand that it’s not always about you. Maybe your friend hasn’t called you in a while because she’s going through something so unimaginable, she can’t put it into words. Maybe it has nothing whatsoever to do with you. Maybe instead of sending her angry texts asking her why she doesn’t seem to want to be your friend anymore, you should send her concerned texts asking her if everything is okay. Or stop with the texts all together and pick up the phone and call. The truth is, sometimes people just simply aren’t capable of being there for you at the very moment you need them, in the very way you need them to be. Life happens and things come up and sometimes we just need to extend a little grace. Give people the benefit of the doubt. And quit making everything all about us. A self-focused life is a very lonely life. When we can only see what is hurting or offending or bothering US…we miss out on opportunities to be there for other people. And there’s nothing that makes life happier and friendships stronger than stepping outside ourselves and putting ourselves in another person’s shoes.
What would you add to this list? Have you had an experience in which one of the suggestion helped strengthen or even save a friendship? Sound off in the comments below!