“FRIENDS ARE THE FAMILY WE CHOOSE" states a sage saying attributed to Edna Buchman.
And this assertion is so profoundly true.
When you come to think about this declaration, it’s a great life balancer. Particularly considering that some of us may have gotten “the short stick” when it comes to our biological families. You know: the ones nobody asked for our membership opinions, or allowed us to take a vote on.
Be honest here. If you could “choose” many of your life-long relatives, would you? Or would you take a pass? In your line of kin-folks, is there a lot of family drama, dysfunction, disharmony, disconnect, sibling rivalry?
Would your family make the Kardashians seem like The Brady Bunch? I’m guessing that many of you are glad to have actual friends who serve as an extended family; that mirror your values; that you can create lasting, loving memories with; and that have your back when needed.
But, every now and then, it becomes necessary to re-evaluate these “chosen” relationships as well. Almost the same way we do marital partnerships.
HERE'S WHY A FRIENDSHIP AUDIT IS PERIODICALLY REQUIRED…
- OUR FRIENDSHIP NEEDS CHANGE
- PEOPLE CHANGE
- WE OUTGROW OTHERS
- AS WE EVOLVE, WE BECOME MORE SELECTIVE OF HOW WE SPEND OUR TIME AND WITH WHOM WE SPEND IT
- SOMETIMES FRIENDSHIPS LACK GIVE AND TAKE BALANCE (YOU’RE DOING ALL THE GIVING)
- YOU DON’T FEEL VALUED OR “SEEN”
- THEY HAVE MAJOR CHARACTER FLAWS
Keep in mind that just because you share a history together doesn’t mean that you have to share the future!
“HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM…”
The reasons that many friendships fall apart and fail to go the distance is that we are not typically intentional in our efforts. Here’s an example to illustrate my point here.
Many times, in seeking a prospective mate, women will create a “wish list” that looks something like this:
- He must be 6 ft. tall.
- He must be gainfully employed.
- He must love kids.
- He should be a Christian.
- He must dig pets….etc.
Conversely, we form friendship bonds simply because we meet someone one night at a bar or bookstore, shared some laughs, and have a few things in common. We exchange phone numbers, and the rest is history, as they say.
Although this could develop into a meaningful friendship, we still need to dig deeper and test the waters, before we share intimate aspects of our lives and risk vulnerability and invite disappointment.
Also worth mentioning is there is a definite distinction between a “friend” and an associate.
Word to the wise: You are not friends with someone just because you share office space; or because you travel in similar circles; or just because you’re neighbors.
Which brings us to another important criteria…
THE TEST OF TIME
Friendship is often best revealed through the test of time. It’s usually evidenced when you’ve gone through certain highs and lows of life together: a divorce; death of a family member; childbirth; the loss of a job; purchasing a home; or a mid-life crisis even.
A STUDY IN FRIENDSHIP
One of my favorite new TV dramas is A Million Little Things. If you haven’t seen it, I would recommend consulting your local TV listings to find out when (or if) it airs in your area to check it out. This Thursday night weekly series follows the lives, loves and careers of a few fellows who meet and bond in an elevator, then later one of them commits suicide. Subsequently their friendships are tested on a regular basis. Thus far they have dealt with: the cheating of a friend with a wife; deception; betrayal; and yet they have remained committed to their friendships. While I think this is admirable, I certainly believe that there are friendship boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed. Still, it makes for some interesting viewing and points to ponder, I must admit.
GIVING FRIENDSHIPS A FIGHTING START
As I mentioned previously in this piece, while many of us have given some pre-thought in terms of what we would like in a potential life partner, we typically don’t think about defining what we would seek in our friendships or qualities that are important. And we should give it some degree of consideration.
HERE’S WHAT MY FRIENDSHIP “WISH LIST” WOULD LOOK LIKE:
I DESIRE FRIENDS WHO ARE BY AND LARGE KIND AND COMPASSIONATE.
(Race, religion or age are not typically contributing factors.)
The world can be unkind enough, without having people in your inner-circle who cause you pain and stress.
I LIKE PEOPLE WHO KNOW HOW TO MAINTAIN AN OPEN MIND AND ARE RECEPTIVE TO VARYING VIEWPOINTS AND BELIEF SYSTEMS.
It’s okay to disagree, however we shouldn’t be disagreeable.
A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR IS A MUST.
I work hard so I like to play hard and share laughter and silliness with those around me, when possible.
HONESTY/AUTHENTICITY IS A DESIRED QUALITY.
If you can’t be real with your true friends, then what’s the point?
I LIKE FOLKS WHO ARE REASONABLY INTELLIGENT AND WELL-ROUNDED.
I often find this to be true of writers, poets and people in the creative community.
I PREFER PEOPLE WHO ARE INCLINED TO DISCUSS IDEAS AS OPPOSED TO OTHER PEOPLE’S BUSINESS.
As a popular quote states: “Those who gossip with you will gossip about you.”
I SEEK FRIENDS WHO SHARE MY UNDERSTANDING THAT FRIENDSHIP SHOULD BE GIVE AND TAKE.
I have learned that life can be a real drain if you’re always the faucet!
I VALUE PEOPLE WHO KEEP THEIR WORD AND CAN BE COUNTED ON.
We’re supposed to have each other’s back by definition.
WHAT YOUR FRIENDSHIP AUDIT SHOULD INCLUDE:
ANALYZE & ASSESS
- DO YOU HAVE FRIENDS THAT WERE M.I.A. FOR IMPORTANT EVENTS AND MILESTONES IN YOUR LIFE?
- ARE THERE “FRIENDS” WHO OWE YOU MONEY AND YET YOU CAN’T CATCH UP WITH THEM AND THEY WON’T EVEN COMMUNICATE WITH YOU TO DISCUSS DETAILS?
- HAS SOMEONE FAILED TO OBSERVE RESPECTFUL BOUNDARIES?
(i.e. not respecting your privacy by sharing gossip or sleeping with your ex)
- DO YOU HAVE FOLKS WHO CONSTANTLY KEEP DRAMA GOING ON AND FAIL TO UNDERSTAND WHAT A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP LOOKS LIKE?
- HAVE YOU BEEN LIED ABOUT OR LIED TO FROM FRIENDS?
If so, you might be better off with a pet.
I’ll leave you with this important quote as we end this year:
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” ---Jim Rohn
Image credits: Pixabay.com