The ABCs of Friendship

Many of us have experienced fulfilling, lasting, loving friendships, as well as some that have come and gone.  The latter can be especially painful.  Why do some friendships last for several years, sometimes stretching out to a lifetime, while others do not?

Here are my ABC’s of friendship, in acronym form.  What rings true for you when it comes to friendship?

F is for Free and Forgiving – A healthy friendship often has a freeing quality, and allows you to feel you can be completely yourself.  Nobody’s perfect, though, and friendships will occasionally have their mini-moments of tension or stress.  Good friends will want to sort things out when times get tough, and will want to talk about the rough patches, no matter how difficult this may seem.  They will have those tough conversations and forgive one another if they truly want to move forward with the friendship.

R is for Real, Reliable, and Reciprocal – You feel that you can be your authentic self around your true friends, and you know you can rely on them when you need them most, and vice versa.  Friendship is a two-way street, and you know that what you’re putting into a friendship is also being reflected back to you.

I is for Interest, Importance, and InvestmentA good friend will take an active interest in your life, and will not ignore you.  Those who are passive-aggressive towards you, and those who are masters of game-playing, are not true friends.  If you’re often left unsure of others’ motives, you may be better off without them.  A good friend values you as someone important, and will check in on you, ask you questions, and will want to know what is going on in your life.

E is for Elevation, Effort, and Ease – True friends are happy for you when they see you’re doing well, and will genuinely want to see you soar to greater heights.  They will want nothing more than for you to be successful in achieving your goals.  They will make an effort to boost you up if you’re sad, and will take the time to make sure you’re okay.  A healthy friendship should not feel like too much of a struggle or take too much work: there should be a back-and-forth dynamic of ease.

N is for No Negativity – Negativity is very wearing, and if you find that others’ attitudes are regularly bringing you down, then these people may not be a good fit for you.  If you find that your friends are not happy for you, or they minimize your feelings, or they are cynical, then they may not be true friends after all.

D is for Dependable – Actions often speak louder than words, and good friends will be there with you for the important moments of your life.  They will share in the occasions that matter to you, because you have made sure that they know that their presence is meaningful in your life, and vice versa.

S is for Sharing, Support, and Sacrifice – Friends undoubtedly share moments and details of their lives to connect and bond, and genuinely care about one another.  They will try to adjust their plans to be there for you if they know something is truly important to you, especially if you’ve been there for them in the past.

H is for Helpful and Happy – You know you’re happy to spend time with your true friends, and genuinely enjoy their company.  If you’re left feeling uncomfortable, unhappy, or as if you don’t fit in, then start spending time with people who suit you better!  Your real friends will unselfishly lend a helping hand, and it’s understood that it’s always reciprocal.

I is for Insight –  A good friend can offer us insight into areas where we struggle, and can offer constructive criticism, feedback, or advice in a caring fashion.  Their support and their perspective can help us grow, learn, and make changes for the better.  

P is for Positivity – Without question, friends are excited for one another when good things happen.  Even when bad things happen, good friends aim to be optimistic, positive, and open-hearted, helping each other through the tough times.  These are the types of people with whom we need to associate ourselves if we truly want to flourish in our friendships.

In my practice in NYC, friendship is a very common topic of discussion.  Struggles with friendship should be examined.  Honesty with oneself is vital when looking for the types of people with whom you want to surround yourself.  Remember:  the friends you choose for yourself are often a direct reflection of yourself, and they mirror who you are!

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