Most of us have a handful of friendship stories. We can attest to how other women bring us fun, laughter, love, support, anger, confusion and pain. To know and be know over time amid experiences like these is a sweet gift. It takes a lot of courage to let a friend into who you are and the nuances of how you work, continually showing your real self as you learn, age and grow…and to offer the same to a friend.
With all that can happen between two people, it is good to have an idea of a few things that can help a friendship stand the test of time.
Not all friendships last a life time and not all women have it in them to maintain a long-term friendship. There are different types of friends, and different seasons of our lives that certain people fit well into. Within any friendship, it is good to remember that:
- People change.
- People disappoint and surprise.
- Sometimes words do not match actions.
- Many of us put on a happy face and keep the “real me” hidden.
- Many women have secrets and long to be known, loved and free.
- My relationship with you is not all about me.
- As we get older, we have more things we are committed to.
We are all different. We all do friendships differently – the time we devote, the level at which we are willing to share, the expectation for the life of a friendship. Jonalyn and I had a great time completing the Myers-Briggs and hearing new things about one another, and laughing at things we already knew. Then, wouldn’t you know it, we recently had situation that challenged us to do exactly what we present in this blog – love and enjoy our differences, listen to learn, keep an open mind, stand up for ourselves, seek resolution and move forward with clear hearts.
Personality is dynamic and allows us to be unique, beautiful and interesting all within one person, but it sure does help to relate to another person through values, interests or life-experiences.
Honesty and Growth.
These two things are a great basis for a friendship, but also great aspirations. They are always present, always needed to help maintain a long-term friendship. Honesty and growth are good buddies in themselves…one begets the other.
It is true that growth brings change, which is scary for most people. Being honest can be scary, too. We are territorial beings that love predictability and patterns, even in people. It is also true that some women do not want relationships to grow, and some say they do but when push comes to shove, cannot offer the honesty with themselves and honesty with another that it takes to maintain a dynamic relationship.
As we grow, we change. Are you the same person you were in elementary school? How have you changed since you had your first best friend? What things have happened that changed your outlook on life or your perspective on women?
Just as we are waiting for winter to turn into spring, there are times in friendships that welcome new friends and usher out ones that no longer fit well with where we are in life. This happens with major events in life, groups we belong to, heath diagnoses, values we embrace, loss we incur, places where we live, projects we put our time into, and age.
“We’ll keep in touch!!” is often the promise. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t.
Relationships are like pressure cookers. Before too long, friends are required to deal with one another’s issues. We ALL have issues. (As soon as you think you don’t, think again.)
When you enter into a relationship with another human being, you are ripe for personal growth. In easier times in a friendship, relating to another person can seem easy-peesy. Then something happens. A misunderstanding, a betrayal, another person…something that shows who we really are.
Some relationships can withstand what it takes to work through these situations, including the aforementioned honesty and growth. In situations like this, we sometimes experience very disheartening surprises, like a friend who is less committed the relationship than you thought, one who is unwilling to be open or be in need. (Jonalyn told a great friendship story like this in last month’s post). This is often when we go through a break-up or a friendship dies.
Deep or Shallow.
Friendships need a bit of both. Friendships that are always in the deep part can be burdensome at time and lack the color that laughter brings. There is only so much time we can devote to deep thoughts and feelings before we feel the need for rest, a break, some space.
Shallow is fun and less threatening. But it can get boring. In a continuously shallower friendship, there is often an itching to go deeper, know more, see more.
You can’t surf on the sand, you can’t sunbathe well out in the deeper rolling waves. Both have a purpose.
What other elements have you found important to a long term friendship? We’d love to have your input!