Have you thought about what makes a particular friendship so satisfying and how both of you feel good inside when you think of one another? Friendships are like marriages in some ways without the ceremonial hoopla, jewelry, and physicalities. But, the trust, intimacy, closeness and unconditional nature of it can be similar to being friends with a puppy. Only, that puppy talks to you and is able to bring you wine on the bad days.
Friends are Family We Choose
Here are the 10 secrets to a happy friendship that may or may not have been inspired by puppies.
SPEAK/SEE PERSON IN REAL LIFE
Friendships and relationships in the 21st century are so slap-and-go. Slap together a text message, send it, and go about your day. It’s a great way to “check-in” and even if you’re sitting there having full on text conversations, those texts can disappear as easily as they show up. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t reply quickly or the kind who needs a quick reply, then you’re doomed in these text friendships.
Touching base with someone in real life or even calling them if you’re far from them strengthens the bonds and moves the friendship past the superficial phase into something more special. If you can’t see or call them, then once in a long while, a nice email or paper letter will suffice. Think of it as having a modern day pen pal.
CACKLE TOGETHER MORE THAN YOU CRY
Who wants to be around anyone who makes you cry or doubt yourself? I don’t. If every time you see a friend and you don’t have at least 10 cackles, I almost think it’s just pointless. Life is already hard when you’re trying to be an adult and friends should be the ones who help take the load off instead of adding to the hardships.
GIVE & RECEIVE
In any relationship, it feels healthy and balanced when you feel there’s a natural balance of giving and receiving. You get the coffee bill one day and the next day, your friend will get the pie bill. If you are never being treated by a friend yet you are always paying for their meals, then you are friends with a moocher. It’s not about keeping a tally, but you don’t want to feel used either. Moochers aren’t fun, so move on.
But, in all seriousness, when times are tough, you may have to give more than you receive. But, in the grand scheme of things, one day, it’ll all even out. You being there for someone and that person being there for you. Isn’t that what friendship is about?
You probably talk to your best friend every day, all day. There are days where you don’t, but you’re not about to break down and think they’ve deserted you. With any relationship, communicating your thoughts and feelings when they matter the most is really important. But, keep in mind the style in which you convey your thoughts. Communicate with them the way you’d want to be spoken to. Think before your speak. Read that email back to yourself and see how you’d feel if you got that from them. Put away the defensive attitude, the arrogance, the victim card, and get off your phone when you talk to a friend. Words can make or break an entire friendship.
With communication, especially about majorly hard things, should come a degree of forgiveness on both sides. If a friend comes to you kindly to tell you that you’ve been hurting them, gracefully apologize and don’t ever do it again. Then, that friend should forgive you for acting out of character. Then, you both happily move on. If this exchange of forgiveness doesn’t happen, it will kill the friendship. One friend will suddenly have a power over you and you will spend all of your days being careful and sorry. Who wants to live like that?
Sometimes, things cut too deep and you can forgive but you can’t forget. The friendship suffers and there’s really no point in holding on when you’re feeling horrible inside. When that happens, it’s time to cut the cord and find someone who appreciates you better.
Some people seem to think that you need to like all of the same things to be the greatest of friends. That couldn’t be further from the truth. You only need to find one thing you both love and do that together as frequently as possible. If it’s connecting over coffee, blush, nature, or knitting, then from that one thing, your friendship can grow into a really beautiful thing.
Food can bring people together unlike anything else. Eating is a happy, joyful time. Your mouth and belly are happy, thus your brain and heart are, too. Some of my favorite times with my friends are going out to eat everything and going home to sleep on the fullest, happiest belly. Even if your friends have different dietary needs than you, if you care about each other, you can easily make it work.
Food is where friendships are grown
We talk about unconditional support with friends but there are always conditions. These conditions emerge when you don’t have as much time as you used to for your friend. They emerge when your friend voted for someone totally different from you. You start to question everything. You have to remember that your friends aren’t you and they are allowed to see the world differently. They are allowed to make decisions that might not match yours, but they are what’s best for their life. It doesn’t make them a horrible or bad person. You also have to remember that your friend has a life and them being busy doesn’t mean they hate you. You, too, can reach out. You, too, have a life. You, too, can get busy.
Know that there are ebbs and flows to life and it’ll never always be 100% perfect. As long as they treat you spectacular and you feel special being with them, that’s all that matters. Friends help you to be better, they don’t try to make you worse. They are genuinely happy for all your successes and never think you don’t deserve something because they deserve it more. They don’t demand you to change while they sit there with their perfectly filtered life and books and don’t see that they need to change, too. And, frankly who cares if they drink Starbucks when you just cannot even with Starbucks?
Nothing is more annoying than when you flake on a friend. Your friend will probably just be like “Ok! Next time!” but you just hurt them. If it’s because you’re running late, that’s one thing. But if you intentionally flake to hang out with someone else, that really sucks. Make plans with your friends and keep them as best as you can. No one has an abundance of time to waste these days and no one likes having their time wasted either.
BE PRESENT & DON’T TAKE THEM FOR GRANTED
The flip side of this is: don’t be an ass. Be present. Be together. Be open. Be honest. Talk and share. Really listen and really have a genuine interest in your friend. The more you make it less about you, the more your friend will make it about you. And suddenly, it’ll be the most caring friendship ever. When you’re present with anyone you care about, you care about what they’re saying, what they’re feeling, and you’re just there for them. It’s not too hard if you really want to be there because you could easily be anywhere else.
When someone makes time to be with you, you can’t take that for granted. Unless it’s a suffocating, needy, stalker kind of time, then you need to get out of that now. That’s not healthy. But, if someone cares to ask about you, then listen to what you have to say, you’ve got a pretty great foundation already for a potential friend.
The topic of friendship is one that is hard for me because I honestly feel like I’ve failed so many times at it. So, what do I know about happy friendships? Recently, a new friend told me this: Friendships will fail, people will make you feel bad, but then you have two choices. Either you close people off and never experience a potentially great friendship again. Or, you get brave and try again because, without this bravery, there is no love.
While I know all of you have had failed friendships for whatever reason, it’s in the past now and the key is to learn from it. Don’t be the ass and don’t be friends with as ass. You can’t make everyone happy and you surely can’t fill the void in everyone’s life. That’s for them to do. You are there to supplement in some ways, not all the ways.
If you ever question if you’re a good friend, which I think most of us do. Just look at the closest 5 people around you. It takes a good friend to be in the company of more good friends. Give yourself credit and know you’re doing some good things in their life that’s why they keep you around. I suddenly think now that the secret to a happy friendship is to be happy with yourself first. When you’re happy, you find happy people who want to be with you. To be confident that you are a decent person who is deserving of having an equally great person who cares and loves you, just as you are.