I found myself nodding along as I read the recent post about 5 Friends You Don’t Need In Your Life, and decided to flip it and consider the 5 friends you do need in your life. Life is hard, and I don’t know about you, but when my stress level is up to here 24/7, I do what I can to surround myself with people who can walk beside me, and me them. I’m at that age when I just don’t want to waste my time with people who leave me feeling crummy. I work hard to be a good friend and look for friends who reciprocate. The people I choose to spend time with as much as possible have these 5 qualities.
The ones who don’t try to sugarcoat or hide their troubles.
Nobody is perfect, we all struggle with many things. Being able to let down your defences and be real about the many ways you aren’t perfect is a breath of fresh air, and one that I desperately need. If I want perfect, I will go to Pinterest and surf around to see how doggone wonderful everyone is. If I’m spending time with you I want authenticity, not perfection. Share your sorrows with your joys, share your tears with your laughter. When we’re real together we share life, and that is so good!
The ones who can laugh about life.
Laughter makes everything in life feel better. When I have a good belly laugh I feel like I can face the day, like I’m winning. Our foibles and failures can be hilarious, so please laugh with me about yourself, me, and the goofy antics of our kids. Even when we fall, if we can laugh while we help each other back up, the recovery will be so much better and more fun.
The ones who give encouragement instead of advice.
When I need advice, I will ask for it, but if you see me struggling, take my hand and encourage me. I might end up needing the advice too, but it’s so much easier to take when you’re really listening and show me that you care. I know I don’t have all the answers, but neither do you. A few words of encouragement and support go so much further than paragraphs of advice. When we put our heads together we can probably come up with a great solution, but if you think you can just tell me what you would do like it’s automatically right, I feel invalidated and will have a hard time listening. When you give unsolicited advice, you set yourself up as better than me, and when I feel small, I have a hard time listening.
The friend who makes you feel better when you see them.
As a card carrying introvert, I use my social energy sparingly. I know which friends leave me feeling exhausted, and which friends feel like a combination of a cup of coffee and a glass of wine. That wonderful mix of energized and relaxed that certain people have, and you go home feeling like the weight of the world has been removed and now you can take on anything. I know which friends are relaxing, and which ones are energizing. I also know which ones are discouraging, and which ones take the wind right out of my sails every time. Life takes the wind out of my sails enough, I don’t need more people who do that too.
The ones who can give and take.
If someone dominates the conversation, I will stop trying to talk; if someone can’t hold their end of the conversation, I will be exhausted from talking too much. Being able to both talk and listen are key. Nobody wants to be in a one-ended conversation. Share about your life, listen when I share. Conversations are supposed to be ‘give and take’. Sure, some days you will need to vent and some days you will feel quiet, but by and large, having the ability to both talk and listen are crucial.
Friends, I will love you no matter what. Everyone goes through tough phases when it’s hard to be a good friend. I get that and will be patient, but to have good friends you need to be a good friend, and if you have those 5 qualities, you’re a keeper for life.
And ladies, if you don’t see yourself in these 5 qualities, there’s always room for introspection and change.