Some people are fortunate enough to have a partner who is their soul mate, their very best friend. But for many people it can be valuable to have several important relationships in their lives that give support, balance, advice. We often find that different people provide support in different ways and in different areas of our lives. It is important to take the time to nurture and encourage those friendships.
Committed friends are an important part of our life support package. Some may have been with us all our lives. Some people call everyone they meet a friend, but many people will say that they have possibly a handful of people who they regard as the real deal, the friends who are there in good and in bad times.
A true friend will tell us when we are wrong as well as when we are right. They care enough about us to set us straight. They know that we will take their opinions and comments in the way that they are intended, with honesty and with our interests at heart. But even a good friend may have a hidden agenda of their own at times. They may not want us to do something that will take us away from them, either emotionally or physically, they may feel jealous if a new relationship appears to be becoming important.
So, to keep a friendship true and honest let us look at some of the key elements that can help to maintain that relationship.
– Keep communications open and genuine. If you feel that there is an under current then value the relationship enough to discuss it. Avoid accusations but keep the discussion clear and relevant to what is going on and address what needs to be said.
– Have fun together. Not everything has to be serious, so make sure that you share good times with your friends, not just your relationship problems or stresses at work. It needs to be pleasant for you all.
– Suggest activities that everyone will enjoy. Take the initiative rather than waiting for things to be arranged and then joining in. Maybe even look to stretch yourselves a little by taking up an interest, like learning to dance or taking part in a charity race. This results in things happening and gives a little structure to the time you spend together.
– Be inclusive. Some people compartmentalise their friends and their lives. Sometimes it is good to mix the different people and interests in our lives. It can be time consuming and stressful to keep everything separate. And a new person can bring a new dimension to our close circle of friends or family, maybe bring in interests or reveal a side to someone in the group that we did not know about. They will have different conversations and ask different questions.
– Be generous with your time. If your friend has problems or concerns, follow up afterwards and be supportive. Remember what they have said and refer back to it. Treat their concerns with importance.
– Be prepared to have a go at new things that are suggested. You never know where it may lead. Often we share similar interests with our friends, but sharing the confidence to try a new activity or take on a new goal can add real energy and a new lease of life to our social scene.
Susan Leigh, Counsellor and Hypnotherapist