(Part 2 in the How to be More Present Series)
When you move around a lot the need for good friendships is a highlighted need in your life.
When you are young and learning about life good friendships is a need in your life.
When you are a new mum good friendships are a need in your life.
I could go on. Are you with me?
Friendships are what make this world turn. If you don’t believe me, well, this is definitely for you!
Making friends and relationships that last is an under-taught skill that I am ready to make into a curriculum for every school! I am serious. It is invaluable to learn about your own worth and that of another person. How to have boundaries and how to love unconditionally. Not only that but it sets us up for future long-standing relationships. (Be it marriage, partnership, parenting etc)
As I have said before, to me it is as if this age of connection has joined all the wrong bits. The busy bits, the shallow bits.. We are left longing for real connection.
In a study completed in America, it was found that youth that spent a longer time on social media than others were 3 times more likely to struggle with PSI (perceived social isolation)
Full report here – https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(17)30016-8/fulltext
There is little to no depth to these online connections. We need to provide opportunities for real connection and learn/relearn the art of making friends.
This is not only for youth. As an adult, it can be harder to make new friends. The older we get – what with lifes business and responsibilities as well as a lifetime of baggage that makes us all imperfectly and perfectly whole. I will outline here some ideas to get you started and some ideas on ways to keep your friends so that you can enjoy decades of laughter together.
1. That’s right. This all starts with you. You can’t hope to have long-lasting friendships if you don’t know what kind of friend you can be, and what kind of friends you are looking for.
What time can you give to the relationship?
Are you looking for acquaintances or best friends?
Does this all sound a bit sterile? It’s not meant too. This has been a hard-won lesson for me and if I can save you heartbreak than I ll do what I can.
I am an eternal optimist and have in the past been very good at only seeing what I want to see in a person. This does neither you nor your friend any favours.
Quite the opposite. It can actually lead to false expectations and heartbreak. Basically what I am saying is decide what friend you are going to be before you promise what you are not.
To some, I am a friend who will drop everything and turn up at their side, no matter the distance. To others, I cannot commit to that but I can commit to being their biggest fan and support via messenger when they need me.
What are your expectations and what expectations do you have? Be bold and brave about this. It is honest and good and kind.
Side note: Some wonderful relationships start organically and will be with you for life – love at first sight kinda thing. Others will be instant and also be gone in an instant – but you know that right? We are all here for some shared insights and some helpful pointers.
2. Urgh! You thought this was all about you picking and choosing a good friend huh? Well, it comes down to you.
Maybe life has broken you a wee bit and played you a few bad hands. There is no pain that I can think of in relationships that hurts as much as losing a best friend. There is very little written about it either if it wasn’t a romantic relationship. A kind of broken-hearted wasteland of whys and why nots? But, be brave. Life has moved on and its time for you to get back in the game. It’s sooo similar to dating its crazy right?!
Can you see how important it is for kids to learn this stuff?
Having good friendships, and knowing how to be in them, is intrinsic to our emotional and mental health. It is also a step towards bully-proofing our kids. When they know who they are comments that contradict that become like water off a ducks back.
Know now that you are not too much or too little – in anything! Let that crazy flag fly and see who comes to say hello 🙂
I now use it as a filtering system that has proved quite helpful. I am simply myself with new people. Unedited me. If it doesn’t work for some people then they are not my people. The same works for you. Please, don’t edit yourself to fit in. That way madness lies.
3. Does all this sound a bit intense? It’s not meant to be. The last two steps have been for you to set out your intentionality. About who you are and what you are looking for in life. These are good steps to take for any area of your life.
Now, its time to have fun! Having shared experiences together, having fun, creating memories is what friendship is all about – and goes a long way to building a long-lasting relationship.
In the USA when we started out making friends we were invited to a ‘First Friday’ of the month get together at someone’s house. Boy were we intimidated! Thinking allllll the usual things: “will they like me”, “am I smart enough, funny enough” …… etc.
You know it. You’ve thought the same, haven’t you?
Turns out that we all like to laugh, chat about life and kids.. We were all incredibly different but we were very good at having fun together and those times are now some of my most treasured memories. Those people some of my most treasured friends and don’t even get me started on how much we love and miss all their kids! It was friends that become family. Our differences melded together into friendship and fun.
4. (Not to the point of stalking, obvs!) A friend recently asked me “Is it me? No one asks me out for coffee or to meet up anymore.”
This often comes back to the point s that I have made previously. What kind of friend have you decided that you want to be? What do you want to commit too?
Maybe you have agreed to meet up for coffee but have never followed through. Maybe you have never asked them. Maybe you have not replied to their messages very often.
It really comes down to your actions speaking louder than your words.
There are some new people that I have gelled with in our new life in the Uk that have been love at first sight. I know they are my tribe and that we have a good future friendship together.
Have we been able to meet up much? Not at all!
But I have decided upon my intention as a friend and continue to grow a friendship via messenger and on our rare catch-ups.
I do not take it personally that we can’t hang out as often as we like. I understand her life is full right now.
Am I like this for others?
Maybe it is because I have a lot of practice at this friendship thing as we have moved so much. I can spot a soul sister.
I can also spot people that I would like to be friends with but, after multiple attempts at making connections, I have decided that actions speak louder than words and take their hint.
This may not work in every situation but it is how I have processed my learning from experience and other relationships. Please adjust for you as necessary!
So, my advive would be to be persistent in those relationships that you attach a high value to. Don’t take it personally if you can’t see each other that much. But do message, call, send funny pics to them. Sometimes people’s lives can be changed because someone stopped for them and said: “You matter to me”.
Keep checking in with your heart though – if their actions speak louder than your words then head back to (1.) above and find yourself a lifey/bestie/world-changer that is proud to bear that title!
Good luck Brave One.