I read somewhere a while back that “The secret to friendship is being a good listener” which got me to wondering, how many of us know when to just listen and when to give advice?
Often times I find that all I want is to have my friend(s) listen without giving their two cents. Yes, your two cents are important to me, BUT I do not need advice about every-single-little-thing. Please tell me that someone else has a friend or friends that do the same thing. Does your friend(s) advice to you ever feel like it is their way of judging you or just being argumentative? Seriously, just be happy for me…be supportive…be understanding…be my friend. I did a little brainstorming and thought of a few different kinds of friends that I either have or have had in the past and thought I would share.
There is a variety of friendships:
1. BEST FRIEND: That person that you have known for years (and if not for years it sure does feel like it). You can say anything to, do anything with, and be your true self around and know that they are going to reciprocate and not be judgemental of you. Yes, they may pick on you some, but that is part of your friendship…you know each others limits and you respect those. You can tell when that person needs to vent, just visit or be goofy beyond belief. This is the friend that you never need to feel embarrassed around as they have probably lived through the majority of your most embarrassing situations with you. You are comfortable being vulnerable around eachother…be it tears or expressing insecurities. They know your deepest darkest secrets…and if they don’t know all of them right now, eventually they will. This friend knows when they need to just listen and when they need to add their advice. You may not see or speak to them as often as you would like, but you know they are always there for you no matter what. They have made your life and world a happier place just by being part of it.
2. A FRIEND WHEN IN NEED: We all have that person (some of us more than one) that as soon as you see their name on your caller id or that you’ve received an email from them the first thought that goes through your mind is always “What do they want/need now?” This is the person who you don’t hear a peep from for months on end and then out of the blue they contact you and the conversation always starts the same: “Hey Sam! How have you been? I haven’t talked to you in ages. I missed you.” Then not to long into the conversation, usually within the first 5 minutes the person will finally get to the point: “Well Sam, I called to catch up and see if you could possibly lend me $350 for new tires on my car? I promise I will pay you back as soon as I get the money. I really need the new tires or else I will not be able to make it to work and will lose my job.” The question, the promise and the guilt-trip all rolled in to one…the friend when in need is an expert at these. The hard part is being a strong enough person to say NO. True friends don’t just want to be your friend when they need something.
3. LIVE-FOR-YOU-I-AM-ALWAYS-RIGHT FRIEND: This is a friend whom you respect, enjoy spending time with, enjoy chatting on-line & through texts and wish nothing but the best for, yet somehow always find them giving you advice about how to live or how they would live every little aspect of your life. Example: SAM: Hey Susie, I am going for a walk to the antique shop later. SUSIE: That is great. If I were you I would watch the weather ahead of time to make sure you don’t get rained on and then I would take Grand Avenue to the antique shop. SAM: Oh, I was planning on taking Main Street because it is closer to my house and takes me right to the shop. SUSIE: I wouldn’t take Main Street, Grand is better. Seriously Susie, why can you not just be happy that Sam is making a healthy life choice and walking to the antique shop? Why must you always make Sam feel like he isn’t making the right choices (according to you)? You are both adults and having your own thoughts and opinions are healthy and normal…let Sam have his own thoughts and opinions without making him feel like they are wrong. Everyone was raised differently, so they approach situations in life differently, so what works for one person does not always work for the other person. Respect each others differences and don’t try to change the other person. Nobody is ALWAYS RIGHT!!! What works for you, your family and your life does not always work for others…accept that, respect that, live with that. Also, remembering that it is YOUR LIFE and you need to make your own choices, and in some cases, mistakes…even if that friend has already lived through it and made the mistake they should respect you enough to let you experience it for yourself (and yes, in some cases they can say “I told you so” at a later date, but that is life).
4. TEXT FRIEND: This is the friend who you LOVE to text. 400 texts messages back and forth in one day is not out of the norm and it actually becomes one of your favorite daily routines. Biggest problem with text friends is that often times when it comes to actually talking to each other or spending time with each other you realize that you really don’t like each other as much in person as you do through technology. Having a good text friend or two is always a good thing, especially if you just want to chat real quick and not feel obligated to spend time with each other.
5. FRIEND EVERYWHERE BUT IN THE CAR: Many years ago I was friends with a girl that I had met through a work situation. We texted, talked on the phone, emailed, went out to movies & meals together…it was a BLAST until I got us concert tickets to a concert that was 200 miles away. It was our first and needless to say our last road trip together. Within 15 minutes of getting into my car she said “Jake asked me if I was planning on bringing some pot down for the concert, but I wasn’t sure what you would think so I just left it at home.” The look on my face was probably pure shock as I knew her as a police officer, not a pot head…and I was just dumbfounded as to what to say. I did decide to thank her for chosing not to bring illegal drugs into my car and jokingly (yet was 100% serious in my head) said “If you had brought it I would have had to drop you off along side the road and go to the concert by myself.” Mind you this was the first 15 minutes of a 200 mile trip (one way), so the next few hours seemed to take much longer than they should have. During the concert she complained the entire time due to the people in front of us standing and her not being able to see over them. By the time the concert was over and we got in the car she continued to complain because she didn’t know any of the songs, yet, when I had asked her weeks earlier if she liked the band she stated that she “loved them” all I can say is that I am very VERY thankful that she slept the majority of the way home. A week later two other friends and I drove down to the same venue for a different concert and it was a fantastic, fun, and hilarious trip that I will never forget—they were excellent road trip friends 🙂 When I was growing up my mom would always say “If you want to see if you will work as a couple go on a 500 mile long road trip together in the summer. If you haven’t fought the entire trip or killed each other along the way you have a good relationship” I think that this is also true for friendships.
6. THE LIAR FRIEND: No true friend will lie to you, yes they may sugar coat a few things, but they are doing that to help protect your feelings. I had a friend (please note HAD) a few years back to was the most OCD person I have ever met. She had 3 different address books, all of which had the same exact addresses, phone numbers, etc. in them. She kept each address book in a different location and when I asked her about this she said “If I have them all in different places I will never lose anyones contact information because there is always a back-up” and this made sense. I witnessed her put my email addresses, street address, home phone number and cell phone number into all three address books PLUS into her cell phone. I called and left her a message one day and she never returned my call, about two months later I received an email from her requesting my phone number because she had “lost it”…okay, I gave it to her, we talked and everything was great. Not too long after that the same thing happened again, she “lost” all of my information….this happened 4 separate times and at that point the big RED FLAGS went up in my mind and told me that she isn’t being completely honest with me. She must have forgotten showing me her 3 separate address books and that I witnessed her putting my info into all of them, I don’t know. It just got to the point where I had to question the friendship itself and ask myself “Is this friendship worth me getting my feelings hurt because she keeps lying to me?” and the answer was NO. So, the next time she emailed me and said that she had “lost all of [my] information again” I sent her an email back that nicely explained that I didn’t think our friendship was working and for both of our sakes we should probably bring it to an end…she never responded back, but also never contacted me again saying that she “lost” my info 🙂
Some friendships are healthy, some friendships are toxic…figuring out which is which and separating yourself from the toxic friendships is the only way to be happy in your friendships. It is hard to close a door on a friendship, but sometimes you have to ask yourself if it is a mutually respectful friendship or if one of the parties is benefiting more from the friendship.
How do you make friends?
Are your friendships equal?
Do you have friends that take advantage of you? If so, are they truly your friends?
What cues, verbal and non-verbal, do your friends give you when they just want you to listen and when they want you to give them advice?
Do you have a “best” friend and what makes them a “best” friend?
Does your spouse count as a “best” friend?
Are animals friends?
How important are friendships in your life?
Is it ever appropriate for a friend to lie to you? If so, when?
What is the hardest part about maintaining a healthy friendship?
Have you ever had to break-up with a friend?
How much value do you put on your friendships?
What is the best way that you have found to end a toxic friendship?
What is the best advice you’ve ever received about friendships?