Yesterday I received a comment on a post I did a few months ago on finding meaningful friendships in a me-focused world. The 20-something commenter offers some very astute observations about developing, keeping and recognizing friends that are well worth sharing. Thank you for your 20 plus vision!
I am a twenty something that has been lucky enough to stumble into some pretty great friendships that have stood the test of time and distance. While I might not have as much wisdom as these ladies, there are some things I’ve notice about my “True Blue” friendships. Here’s I always keep in mind when making friends.
1. Don’t look for someone just like you. My best friends are different from me in so many ways. While obviously you do need to have something in common, it isn’t important to be agree on everything or even on all of the big things like politics or religion. A true friend will value your differences just as much or even more than your similarities.
2. Good friends challenge you. That’s why it’s important not to be entirely similar. When you are different you can help bring balance to each other’s personalities and lives. If being a people pleaser has lead you down a path where you are often taken advantage of, look for a someone who is giving but also isn’t afraid to say no. A good friend will truly appreciate your generosity but will also reciprocate. They’ll encourage you to take a stance when necessary and will help decipher some of your existing toxic relationships. Good friendship comes with a lot of honesty. Good friends show compassion and support but aren’t afraid to tell you you are wrong.
Ways to identify who this friend is: they won’t let you always pick up the check, they are quick to meet you in the middle whether it be in choosing a movie or meeting some place convenient for both of you and they’ll call you out for going too far in pleasing someone else. When someone truly appreciates aspects of your personality, it hurts them to see others abuse your positive traits. Sometimes good friends have more self-respect for us than we have for ourselves.
3. Let go of your preconceived ideas about someone you already know. Two of the best friendships I have started out with me not liking that person much. One I knew as an acquaintance the whole time I was growing up and while we shared a lot of friends I always thought of her as fake until I took the time to get to really know her in high school. Turns out she was a people pleaser, the youngest of 4 kids who spent her whole upbringing trying to make everyone happy. She was truly genuine, what made her seem fake was her unhappiness about being taken advantage of. Also forget your crowd or clique, I have sporty best friends and vegan hipster best friends. You don’t have to look or act to similar to be great friends.
4. True friendship needs no environment or plan. Real friends can have fun together in all situations and atmospheres. You should be comfortable hanging in a bar or club and on the living room floor in pajamas. You won’t have to see or talk to each other regularly to maintain a friendship. Once the friendship is established you should be able to pick up right where you left off – whether it be from a text 5 minutes ago or a conversation 5 months ago.
5. Lastly, sometimes it takes a little luck but mostly it takes time and effort to find a “True Blue” friend. Ask everyone you feel comfortable with to go do something. When you find that special friendship it pretty much evolves on its own. You’ll feel comfortable sharing the bad and the good. A tell-tale sign you’ve found a great friend: they’ll tell you something about yourself or your situation that you’ve already known but haven’t wanted to admit and you won’t feel judged when they do it.
And remember that there are many different levels of friendship. It will take time and work to find really great friends but don’t throw away the people you meet on the journey. Recognize what a person is capable of giving you and what you are capable to giving them. While I have several amazing friends who will be part of my inner circle for life, I also have friends who are great for shopping, drinking or laughing with. Not every friend will help develop you and your life but every friend will bring something good to it. The key is to know how much that person can give to you and only reciprocate at the level.