We may have hundreds of friends on social media, but how many of them can we rely on when illness strikes or we need to talk in the middle of the night?
The notion of true friendship can be a little hazy in today’s world of likes, follows, tweets, snaps and shares. There’s far more to having and being a true and loyal friend than posting an occasional remark on Facebook or aligning with someone to further an agenda.
Authentic friendship requires an investment of time, thought and emotion. The dividends become increasingly important as life gets more complicated. We count on friendships to share happy times but also to lean on in the difficult periods. I receive countless emails from people ready to toss in the towel with a disappointing friendship, when in fact, the situation may have something to do with their own behavior.
It’s worth assessing your current bonds to consider how a friend is adding to your life – and how you are enhancing theirs. With limited time and energy, we all have to make choices that yield a positive ROI. Just like in business, you are wise to know when to hang in there and when to cut your losses.
Just as romantic relationships thrive on chemistry, so do friendships. There are some people that you just naturally “connect” with, and others that you don’t. A good friend shares the highs and lows of of your life, from motherhood or fatherhood to the tragedies and inevitable passing of those you love. As one of my good friends always says, “it’s how you handle weddings and funerals” that tell a great deal about the bond. A friend is by your side to cheer you on or hand you a tissue when you need to wipe away a tear.
Humor is one of the great bonds that bring people together. There’s nothing like a friend who can appreciate life’s absurdities, share funny situations and experiences, and recount crazy memories with you. Yes, you really did wear that outrageous zebra shirt to your first parent/teacher conference.
Great friendships are built on an exchange of perspectives and regularly make you look at things from a different point of view. They are an ally in your attempts to understand and explore what life has to offer, challenging you to be your best self. Even with their busy schedule, it’s not unusual to receive a text with a link to an article they think you’ll enjoy. I can count on one of my friends to send me an excerpt from a book she’s reading when she knows the words will resonate with me.
The way they handle their life is a wonderful example and inspires you to become a better person.
They show up.
When you need them, they are there. Sometimes all it takes is a hug, or leaning your head on their shoulder and knowing someone cares. It’s the unspoken bond, the feeling of trust and belonging that lets another person know you are valued.
Two way street.
It’s an empty feeling when one person is always initiating contact or extending every invitation. Similarly, a friendship can’t be a relationship built on one person’s drama and constant emergencies. A healthy friendship is a give-and-take where you both rely on each other and receive support.
Friendship is not always convenient. At times there is a sacrifice involved; going out of the way for someone at a critical time sends a powerful message. You are happy to set aside a half hour, an afternoon, or an evening to nurture the relationship.
It’s fun to dream of your next adventure or get-together, whether it’s a fall-themed getaway or brunch next week.
Lastly, if all this talk about friendship has you feeling a little melancholy, know that it’s natural for relationships to evolve. Some friends are “annuals” and others are “perennials.” Both have value and added something special to your life. But, it’s important to note, loyalty goes to those who are with you in the trenches, not sending you occasional tweets from across the globe.