The Recipe for Healthy and Long-Lasting Friendships
“Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness”. ~Euripides
Posted Jul 29, 2018
All relationships whether they are romantic relationships, friendships, or mentorships take time and effort to establish and grow. It is a two-way street of patience, endurance, trust, kindness, communication, and compromise. Some individuals have an easier time establishing and maintaining friendships than others. Some of us long for closer friendships or try to figure out why an existing or promising relationship fizzled out. In these cases, we may jump first to judge a friend’s behavior, rather than our own. Friendships and relationships are two-way streets and not one party can take all the blame when things go south.
It takes two
A wise soul once told me that relationships do not always have to be 50/50 all the time. Sometimes an individual may be dealing with a lot on their plate and cannot, for a short period of time, contribute 50 percent to the relationship and the other partner may need to pick up the slack, temporarily. As a result, relationships can be 80/20, 30/70 or 90/10 but overtime on average they should be 50/50; meaning each partner is putting in 50 percent of the time, heart, and effort into the foundation and growth of the relationship; regardless if it is a platonic or romantic relationship. Regardless of the stage of the relationship, whether it is a new and blossoming romantic relationship or a steady, rooted friendship; there are qualities and traits that must be practiced in order for the relationship to succeed.
Each individual expresses themselves differently, handles stress differently and process emotions differently, however, it is important to always communicate with your partner or friend how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Your friend or partner cannot read your mind and it is not fair to assume they can read in between the lines. There should always be a clear dialogue between both parties. Communication is not just about talking but it is also about active listening. Sometimes we are the one speaking and other times we are listening. Either way, the central tenet is communication for the sake of building the relationship and making it stronger.
Treating your friend to lunch, giving your spouse a compliment, sending a hand-written card in the mail or writing a quick email to a friend are all acts of kindness that can enhance a relationship. Who doesn’t like to be the recipient of a kind act? Kindness should be practiced on a regular basis and should be the foundation of your thoughts, actions, and words.
You must be honest with yourself and with your partner. We must speak openly from the heart and incorporate objectivity into our words.
Many believe that laughter is the best medicine for the soul It is so important to have fun and laugh in relationships. Act silly, go on an adventure, tell jokes, laugh with each other and at each other. People who are fun to be around are better company than friends who walk around with a dark cloud hanging over their heads. The former enjoy life, handle challenges in proactive ways, and keep negative experiences in perspective while learning positive lessons from them.
Conflicts arise in every relationship, where they are small pestering arguments or large serious issues; it is necessary to learn how to resolve conflict in a healthy manner. Most conflicts are not a deal breaker and the underlying issues can usually be resolved if both parties keep an honest and open dialogue. Communication, level-headedness, honesty, and empathy are the key ingredients in resolving conflicts. Conflicts can be seen as an opportunity to learn and grow. Both sides openly share their feelings and views honestly and with respect. Conflict is accepted as a natural part of life and any frustrations are dealt with early rather than repressed and brought back up time and time again.
Your partner or friend should always be able to can count on you to be there when you say you will, to do what you say you will, and to be willing to stand up for, especially when you cannot stand up for yourself. If you are as likely to let friends down and not follow through on your commitments and your word, the relationship often becomes superficial, less engaging, and even resentment-provoking, if it doesn’t end altogether.
Just because you are in a relationship or a friendship does not mean you have to agree on everything or have every interest in common. Your views may differ and that is what makes each individual so beautiful. It is important that each individual is happy on his or her own, regardless of the other person. A friendship or relationship should supplement your happiness, not define it.
Are you a good friend or partner?
Ask yourself the following questions and answer them honestly. If you feel you are lacking in a specific area then ask yourself “Why?” and try to see how you can improve on this area. Remember that every friendship and relationship takes effort on your part and on your partner’s part.
- Am I honest with others?
- Am I generally very dependable?
- Am I loyal to the people I care about?
- Am I easily able to trust others?
- Do I experience and express empathy for others?
- Am I able to be non-judgmental?
- Am I a good listener?
- Am I supportive of others in their good times?
- Am I supportive of others in their bad times?
- Am I self-confident?
- Am I usually able to see the humor in life?
- Am I fun to be around?
- Am I trustworthy?