Four qualities of healthy friendship


Four qualities of healthy friendship

Have you ever wondered what makes a healthy friendship? Why do some friendships last decades and others, seemingly unbreakable, fall apart? We teach young children it’s important to ‘be nice’ to our friends, and likely you heard this too growing up. But being ‘nice’ in a friendship, no matter what can come at a significant personal cost. Could there be a better way?

Forget ‘being nice.’

One problem with being ‘nice; is that it doesn’t necessarily allow for healthy boundaries.  Boundaries are essential for our mental health; for many of us, it can be tricky to put them in place or maintain them. For healthy friendships, we need to connect with those who can accept our boundaries while at the same time supporting us through inevitable life changes.

Hard times reveal true friends.

Or do they? People are generally supportive, and it’s not unusual for entire communities to rally when someone close to them is in trouble. This is perfectly fine, and it should be that way. But we also need people to show up when good things happen to us, someone to celebrate with who will be genuinely happy for us—someone who can raise us even higher simply by being present and sharing our joy.

Communicate your needs

For many of us, the pace of day-to-day life is fast and ever-increasing. Most of us would make an effort to contact and support a friend who’s recently received a life-changing diagnosis. But perhaps we’d find it harder to find the time to celebrate with a friend who got a first contract for their new business. This happens to us all, and the only way out is communication. Next time you feel disappointed by the lack of attention from your friends, tell them! Tell them how important it was to share your ‘big thing’ with them and how you felt when they didn’t show up. For this strategy to be effective, remember to use ‘I” statements. For example, “I felt let down when you didn’t show up; I wanted you to be there.” On the opposite, the “You” statements (“you failed me”) are much more likely to provoke anger or resentment in a friend that is already likely trying to juggle many things at once.

True friendships allow for contradiction.

Healthy friendships are those where you can be effortlessly yourself. And not just on a good day but also on the day when you feel low, exhausted or downhearted. These connections allow for two seemingly contradictory ideas. They provide a sense of belonging while allowing each participant to stand out in their uniqueness. They give the feeling of safety that comes with feeling included and accepted. But also nurture and support our distinctive qualities.

 

Thinking about your existing friendships, do you feel supported? Do your friends join in your celebration of victories, big and small? Why not take this opportunity and reflect on where you are and perhaps even reach out and say hello to those who mean something to you.