The following blog was written by CYL Team Leader Aimee Eddy. This blog is not edited and comes directly from Aimee. To contact the author, please email Aimee Eddy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Relationships are hard and take a lot of work, even friendships. It’s hard to decipher what is a good friendship and what isn’t. Many types of friends come in and out of our lives, and too often we get caught up in bad friendships. Sometimes we get hurt so many times that we harden our souls and close ourselves off to what could be a wonderful friendship. It’s important to know what qualities make a good relationship.
The big questions are: what qualities make a good friendship? How do you know you’re in a healthy relationship? It took me years of heartaches to be able to answer these questions. When I was in school many of my friends turned on me or moved away. I often felt lonely. I kept a list of all the friends I lost. I was holding on to the pain of the loss, but what I didn’t do was list the good qualities of the friends that were true, but had to move. As an adult I burned that list of lost friends and started retracing memories of the good friends I did have.
Look at the friendships you have and had and see if they meet any of the qualities I list below.
· A good friend is supportive. Friendships go two ways. You can’t always be the supportive one. Your friend must be supportive of you too. One of my best friends is always the first to comment on my blog posts and is willing to encourage me and my writing. My friend is an avid bird watcher and I like to send her stuff with birds on them. When things are rough she’s there for me and I am there for her through struggles.
· A good friend listens to you. A good friend doesn’t just go on and on about his or her life. He or she tells about his or her life and then gives you a chance to talk about yours. They listen when you feel like you have no one else to talk to. They listen and care about your feelings and what you have to say.
· A good friend is trustworthy. You should be able to tell your friend anything and trust he or she won’t spread it around. A good friend should be that one person you can trust to always be there for you, the person you trust with your secrets and you trust to always be behind you. I trust my good friends with very personal things about me, and I know they will always be at my side and they have been.
· A good friend likes you the way you are. A healthy friend would never do anything to try to change the person you are. They like you with your flaws, blemishes and those little things that make you unique. They don’t care how you dress, what hairstyle you wear or that you might stutter. None of those matter to them. They just care about the person you are inside. My friends don’t care that I don’t like makeup, that I like jeans and t-shirts or that I have a learning disability. They see me for the person I am and that’s what’s important to them. I also love those special things that make up the person they are.
· A good friend does things for you without asking for anything in return. A healthy friend will give you a ride without asking for money for gas, buy you a meal out of kindness or give you a gift just because he or she was thinking of you. They do these things because that’s what friends do. They don’t expect any favors. I sent my friend a flamingo clip just because I knew she likes them. I don’t expect her to send me anything in return. One of my friends sent me money towards getting new windows and doesn’t want me to pay her back.
· A good friend respects your opinion even though it may not be the same as theirs. No two people can always agree on the same thing, and sometimes differences of opinion can clash. A good friend may disagree with you, but respect that is how you feel. They won’t try to change your opinion so that it matches theirs. Even if you clash on opinions you are able to make amends and move past it. One of my good friend and I often disagree on things. Sometimes we clash, but in the end we always end up agreeing that we don’t agree. I respect that she views things differently than me, and I love her for it.
Do your friends have any of these qualities? What type of things do you want from a friendship? If you’re in a friendship that is doing the opposite of these then maybe you should think of ending it. A friendship should never be abusive and hurtful. It’s important to have healthy relationships. When they are unhealthy they become destructive to you inside out. Evaluate your friendships keep the good ones close and let go of any negative ones.
I have had to let go of friendships that were hurtful to me. One friend only talked about her problems and never gave me a chance to talk about mine. Her life was awful and that’s all that mattered to her. It was hard, but I had to tell her the friendship was over. When I found recovery from mental illness I had to end many negative friendships for my own good.
Take a look at the relationships in your life. Weed out the ones that cause you pain, and hold onto the ones that bring you up. Remember a good friend is a treasure. If you have one good friend you are a rich person.