What I Look for in Friendship
Friendship is so important to me I do not want to go through life alone. I do not believe I should push myself to be this extra extroverted just to find a healthy friendship because one, I tip over the introverted side, and two, it does not mean I despise extroverts. I think I need a few for my well-being!
What brings me here writing about it was an experience of more than 10 years of "friendship" but deep inside I felt worn out as a listener, abused for my kindness and tolerance in a way, and worst was indifference when I was on the edge I needed the same listening, tolerance, and kindness. That feeling when I was only wanted as an audience not as a company? It was heart stoning I could not "breathe" anymore, so I ended it. Enough.
So the experience got me thinking why it did not work out and why I wouldn't call it friendship.
There were little or none of the following aspects in the so-called relationship.
Ask how my day is, what keeps me busy, when we can meet, who bothers me, why I cry, and where I am going, among other questions expressing deep concern and clear intentions. Asking digs deeper than what is on the surface, and it means a lot. Okay, the usual text message introduction would be "How are you?" and hopefully does not end with "I'm fine." There is communication, perhaps, but no conversation at all. Conversation lasts more than this abrupt answer because a friend or a potential friend asks some more out of concern and interest like saying, "Hey, I am here, what is up with you (with a smiley even)?"
Be there, physically and mentally. It is crazy sometimes seeing groups of friends together and almost all of them looking at their smart phones interacting with friends elsewhere in social networks. It is not rude reading posts and text messages from time to time, I get it, but I am reminded, too, that we spend time together because it is time for us to talk, share some activities, get crazy over small things, laugh out loud, discuss random ideas, and more of what we can do - at this moment. How about our plans, failures, dreams, and challenges? They are eye openers to begin with, revealing our attitudes both good and bad. That is genuine friendship there.
Remember what we talk about the last time we met or if not, at least things we did a week or a month ago. It is comforting how one can bring up details of previous conversations or activities and break the silence. It is not about remembering all the details about each other but the thoughtfulness in the growing relationship. It is not like we met again today and nothing happened yesterday. Recognize and speak about each other's good traits or habits, which is encouraging enough along the way. What can be more consoling is support when a day gets tough or problems pile up until somehow we get back up again feeling accepted and understood.
Time for everything? No, no way. It is time for what you think I value the most, say, just once in week text message about anything going on in your life and in mine is joy. It does matter even if it is only about your new found pet or favorite food. Keeping in touch this way gives the relationship warmth and spontaneity, and perhaps only when it won't take us two or three days before we reply? How about time for a monthly meet-up elsewhere because one of us simply misses each other's company? Definitely, a plus. Time for gifts, yes. Time for a word of cheer, yes, yes. Time to celebrate, yes, yes, yes.
There is this aspect of time I find so important in friendship. it is consistency. I remember a scene in the book The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. How he waters his rose regularly because it is his. Yes. It is unlike any other rose because he takes care of it. This is a friendship worth keeping.
Do not just look out for me and remember me when you need something. It is clearly being user-friendly. Or this, it is your birthday (and a gift is very much welcome) and you suddenly text me after a year? I felt forgotten in a whole year, there wasn't even a greeting on my birthday. Why? Why now? I understand it is your birthday, however, if this friendship is friendship, then following through matters not just on special occasions. There is truth in saying we may forget what happened or what was said, but not how it made us feel. How badly we felt is where we grasp a lesson or two wanting never to feel it again if possible.
Let us not gossip about others' blunders, flaws, issues, and problems. Fault-finding is downright draining our energies and personal growth. Instead, why not inspire each other to be better through our attitudes and values? It starts with how we love our work, our family, or it could be an advocacy one of us strongly believes in, practices, and promotes. If you are into volunteer work, then invite me over for a noble cause. Look, we can't be drinking, partying, goofing around, and texting all the time. Good news and worthwhile achievements make a healthy friendship. Both of us focus on improving ourselves with less and lesser criticisms aim at almost anybody.
Admit you are angry, irritated, frustrated, discouraged, nervous, confused, and the list goes on, when you are. I do not need an impression that you are carrying on when actually you are screaming and shouting inside. I will share my thoughts and feelings with you in much the same way. Do not ever think you need to be strong all the time just to be a dear friend, or you have to enumerate your highest of honors to be accepted.
Do you like to feel unworthy until you have proven your "worth" to whomever demands it? I don't. It is suffocating. By the way, I find it so irritating, and yes I admit it, when self-righteous others belittle the rest because they do not measure up to their level. Look at them and understand they do not always do what they preach, and just keep it to yourself when you catch them in their excuses.
Two of the most reassuring freebies in a healthy friendship: secrets and trust. No matter how shameful, demeaning, or humiliating our shared personal experiences maybe, we won't use them against each other, especially judge in a way that makes one of us feel a sore loser, stupid, or an utter failure in front of everybody else. Someone who makes his or her presence felt all the more in troubled times is a keeper, and deserves a part in our success. What keeps a company fun to be with is open-mindedness, to act and be vulnerably who we are is freedom.
Trust that in the middle of our imperfections, there is good coming out of the cracks, and this is what makes us stay and be there. Trust that each of us hopes to improve, will improve, and can improve. Trust in our potential to be better.
© 2016 chelle