A relationship, simply put, is a connection between two people that can be either positive or negative. A friendship is one such connection between two people where they form a strong bond that is filled with trust and affection. Many times, society and media make us believe that friendships are not as important as romantic relationships or familial relationships, however, they are just as valuable.
Importance of Friendships
We all deal with loneliness and isolation. Things have been more complicated with the global pandemic, even though people may be vaccinated, there are still restrictions in place that make it difficult to go out freely and hang out in public places with friends. Nevertheless, friendship is a beautiful thing as they can help us feel happy, feel a sense of belonging, and help us feel more confident in ourselves. They can have a positive impact in our lives and even improve our health and well-being.
Being able to find a happy companionship in another person can help us enrich ourselves. Friends can help us challenge ourselves to try new things, motivate us, be there for us during difficult times, share wonderful memories, and encourage us when we want to pick up healthy lifestyle habits. A good friendship, just like a romantic relationship, is a two-way street. No one individual should be doing all the labour. You should be able to rely on your friend, but your friend should also be able to rely on you.
There will be moments in your friendship when you might need more assistance and need to lean on your friend more than they lean on you or vice versa, but that is normal in healthy friendships. It is not always perfectly equal like a balanced scale, but both individuals should be careful not to let the scales tip entirely to one side.
Common Issues in Friendships and When to Leave
Of course, no friendship is completely smooth sailing. Just like any other relationship, it can come with its own set of issues. In a friendship you might feel left out, your friend might break their promises, you might have a low level of trust for each other, you might struggle to schedule meetings together, or you might feel insecurities arise.
Having open and honest conversations can help resolve a lot of the issues mentioned before. If you’re feeling left out, telling your friend might let them realize that they haven’t been spending as much time with you and will let them know to prioritize a future get-together with you. It gives you opportunities to clear up misunderstandings and to build trust.
That said, there may be other issues that might be a sign you need to leave your friendship. For example, your friend is disrespectful, mean, dishonest, doesn’t keep your secrets, betrays your trust, downplays your achievements, makes you feel worse and not better, or is constantly passive-aggressive. A friend should help lift you up when you are down. People in your life should not disrespect you by being mean, dismissing your concerns, or ignoring your boundaries. If they cannot be happy with you when you achieve great things, their negativity can make you feel like you don’t deserve the accomplishments you worked hard for. It might be time to walk away.
Tips to Strengthen Friendships
The best way to connect with others is to show interest in them. Remember to focus on what they’re sharing with you such as their thoughts, feelings, experiences, and opinions. If you’re genuinely not interested in what the other person has to say, then it might be time to re-evaluate your friendship. It is important to pay attention when in the moment. Try your best to avoid distractions. Whether it means turning off your phone during your get-togethers, or meeting in a quieter setting, do what helps you eliminate your distractors. Being able to remember someone’s preferences, the stories they share with you, or how they’re faring can go a long way.
As mentioned before, friendships just like any other type of relationship takes time and effort. Do your best to schedule time for your friends whether it is weekly, or monthly. The pandemic makes it difficult to meet up, so perhaps the better option is to schedule video calls. If there are activities that you need to do, try to do them together. For example, attend the gym, go shopping, or get a manicure together.
Lastly, it is important to have open and honest communication with one another. Though it is difficult and uneasy to be vulnerable, the strongest friendships involve two people that have built trust between each other.
Everyone deserves to have a friend, a beautiful and warm companionship.