So I have decided we are all terrible people.
I know. Right now, you’re thinking what a FANTASTIC motivational speaker I would be. WIN.
But really, in the last few months I’ve become reacquainted with how self-centered and generally oblivious I can be of others. And somehow, I don’t think it’s just me. Don’t worry, though. I, in all of my GRANDIOSE WISDOM, will educate you with these four tips on how to BE A LESS TERRIBLE FRIEND.
NO. 1: TRY.
We are all EXTREMELY BUSY AND DISTRACTED creatures nowadays. But if you truly want to be a good friend, you need to make an effort. Don’t expect your friends to always reach out to you. Learn to reach out to them! And learn how to best reach them. We tend to always relate to people the way we want to be related to. But, SURPRISE! Not everyone is you. People have different “love languages,” as Dr. Gary Chapman put it in his “The Five Love Languages” book. Those “love languages” are true in all relationships, not just romantical ones. So if you’re trying to show your friend you love them with random gifts but they want quality time, they will not feel loved. LEARN HOW TO LOVE and then MAKE AN EFFORT. My oldest friend in the world is great at this. Yes, that’s us on one of our silly photo shoots (really, we have so many photos of each other it’s CREEPY). But really, through boyfriends and college and living far away for years and marriage and baby, well, she has still tried. If she can do it, so can you.
NO. 2: HAVE PROPER EXPECTATIONS.
This one has been a doozy for me. I most definitely have expected–and still sometimes, sadly, still expect–people to respond to me the way I would respond to them. But they aren’t going to because (SURPRISE!) they are not me. We need to learn to accept our friends for who they are. It’s healthy, of course, to bring up issues that arise within the confines of a good friendship. However, it’s also OK to look at a relationship, re-evaluate it and realize that you’ve both changed and your relationship isn’t going to be what it was two or three years ago. Remember, not everyone has to be your ABSOLUTE BESTEST friend. You don’t have the energy or the emotional resources for that. I’ve learned that I tend to have two types of friendships: mutual and giver. Both are wonderful and offer opportunities for growth. But my mutual friendships are the ones I pour most heavily into. These are the people who know my stuff inside and out, and who I do have higher expectations of. My other friendships I value just as much, but in a different way. In other words, I love to lend a listening ear. But I can’t listen to everyone. Sometimes I need someone to listen to me. Those are my mutual buddies.
NO. 3: BE CONSIDERATE
I am an overly sensitive person. HOWEVER, I know I am not alone in feeling that people–even people who love me dearly–can be inconsiderate. And I also know that I can be inconsiderate, too! (What?!? I’m not perfect?!? GASP.) There’s a few ways you can be considerate to the friends in your life. You can check in with them if you know they’re struggling. You can listen to them–really LISTEN, not just wait for your turn to speak. You can RESPOND to them (I tell you, right or wrong, when people don’t respond to me at all, it drives me a little crazy). There are so many ways you can do this. Really, though, the best way is to just be responsive and caring. Think about your friend and how you can love them well! Stop making your friendship all about what you can get and look at what you can give. THAT’S LOVE.
NO. 4: BE CAUTIOUS.
Remember, you don’t need to be friends with everyone. Some people are not healthy for you to be friends with. Some people are not healthy for me to be friends with. If you find yourself constantly feeling badly about yourself in a friendship, maybe that’s not someone you should be spending time with. That doesn’t necessarily mean there is something INHERENTLY WRONG with that person, or that they are ABSOLUTELY TO BLAME for your feelings. What it does mean is that for whatever reason, when who you are and who they are blends together, it doesn’t churn out a healthy relationship. It is okay to realize and admit that. One of the most freeing experiences I ever had came when I was praying about a friendship that made me feel terrible all the time. I couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong or whose fault it was. Suddenly, I felt as if God told me: “It doesn’t matter. If you can’t be healthy in a relationship with this person, then you need to break the relationship.” Sometimes you just have to realize you’re a broken person and your insecurities and personality may just make you unfit for close friendship with certain people. Really and truly, sometimes it is easier to love people when emotional distance is created.
So there you have it. Four tips to becoming a better friend and making better friends. It’s just that easy, folks. I know we all have it in us to be better friends. And the world desperately needs better friends! So let’s have it. You can do this! I believe in you.