Show Me Your Friends

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‘Show me your friends, and I’ll show you who you are.’

This is the obvious phrase hurled about when talking about friendships. Friendships are a pervasive aspect of human life. The fundamental element to any relationship being friendship, whether it underpins a marriage, a parent-child relationship, extended family ties, old friends, or your regular platonic relationships – just name it. The tie that binds is friendship.

If there’s anything that I’ve learned navigating this past decade, is that you have to learn how to navigate these friendships. I’m finding the relationships I enjoy with those closest to me (in any of the above categories) are changing, and learning to navigate these changes has been a life lesson that I’m definitely carrying forward into the future.

There are many questions which I’m sure we’re constantly answering or seeking answers to and I wanted to offer my take on this. I ain’t salty, and I haven’t (yet) been burned by anybody, but I hear plenty stories hence my interest. Also I (allegedly) am guilty of being too available to my friends so I’m writing this hoping I come to a conclusion that either validates my position on friends (as the missus would dearly love!) or, cause a rethink. So, here goes:

SHOULD AND IF SO HOW, CAN I ACCOMMODATE FLAWS IN MY FRIENDS?

For me, the starting point is that none of us are perfect. Therefore to seek perfection in someone else is to literally expect a perfect relationship with another human being. Two words – good luck!

I always think about what those closest to me have to put up with in me. Is it my ability to be oh so fashionably late? Is it my inability to concentrate on two things whilst in conversation? Some self-awareness over the years has enabled me to see that I can be a nightmare veeerrrrrry occasionally *side eye*. And so taking this and the other so called “Ayoisms” (ask my peeps what these may be) into account, I know that I must afford others the space for their flaws.

Now I’m not saying we have to put up with outright misbehaviour. There are some flaws which have a detrimental impact on us and therefore we might need to reconsider that friendship if the net impact of the behaviour of that person is negative. If the bad outweighs the good heavily, then it’s gotta go!

For me, the starting point is that none of us are perfect. Therefore to seek perfection in someone else is to literally expect a perfect relationship with another human being. Two words – good luck!

HOW DO I BALANCE THE VARIOUS RELATIONSHIPS IN MY LIFE?

The ability to balance relationships effectively is something that I think we'll be tweaking and adjusting for the rest of our lives. Call me crazy, but I don't believe we'll ever achieve equilibrium whereby we are perfectly in sync with every person we have a relationship with - but we have to work at it.

We only need to consider the size of our personal accounts, our phone books, and our daily/weekly interactions to realise that we can't possibly build meaningful relationships with EVERY contact. Effectively prioritising relationships, and allocating our emotional resources accordingly, is vital to building meaningful relationships and allocating the time to the ones we value the most.

This is something I'm definitely still learning, and the occasional reminder from my fiancée, parents, siblings, cousins and friends when I've gone amiss is sometimes needed... *nervous laughter*

AM I TOO AVAILABLE?

In general, if you find that you say ‘yes’, far more frequently than you say ‘no’, this means that you might have to rein yourself in when it comes to the majority of your relationships... Some of us have so many "on the surface" friendships due to us wanting to be ‘out there’. These relationships when critically assessed are as a result of us being waaaay too available.

I bet if we did some self-evaluation on these friendships, we'd realise that we derive minimal value from a shedload of fleeting interactions. I'm not knocking the place of acquaintances in our lives, but we can’t invest properly into friendships when there are hundreds of people who we're trying to build a meaningful relationship with. That means we’re going to have to do some serious thinking about who we intentionally foster deeper and more meaningful relationships with.

In general, if you find that you say ‘yes’, far more frequently than you say ‘no’, this means that you might have to rein yourself in when it comes to the majority of your relationships... Some of us have so many “on the surface” friendships due to us wanting to be ‘out there’. These relationships when critically assessed are as a result of us being waaaay too available.

HOW DO I WISELY RE-EVALUATE FRIENDSHIPS?

If you're like me and you love people, then this is HARD... lol. Because of my belief in humanity, I tend to want to afford people the benefit of the doubt even when it's clear that it's not in my best interest to persist with an unhealthy relationship - or persist with too many relationships, especially at the cost of those that matter most to me.

Equally if you’re an extrovert (as I am), you’re more likely to be less careful with how you expend energy on others emotionally as you feed off others so are less sensitive to how that impacts you. If you find yourself getting home to your loved ones and finding that you're too tired to engage...? Check yourself... It’s likely that you're giving what's required inside outside and you need to adjust.

Also, it may be the case that you are allocating time to people who aren't as deserving of your time as you thought. Intentionally scrutinise your friendships. What do they bring to the table? Are they edifying? Are they positive? Or do you find that after hours with said person, you're wondering what the value was you got from the hours with that person. Which takes us back to the top…

Our relationships are an extension of who we are - ‘show me your friends’, whilst the most cliché of statements,is one that we must continually revisit in order to keep a sense of who we are. Some of the most grounded people I know have watertight inner circles and are devoted to those closest to them and I don't think that's an accident.

Also, it may be the case that you are allocating time to people who aren’t as deserving of your time as you thought. Intentionally scrutinise your friendships. What do they bring to the table? Are they edifying?

FINAL THOUGHTS

I'm still perfecting this skill with all relationships in my life, and although I've been able to comment somewhat objectively, taking my own medicine ain't gonna be a piece of cake.

All said and done, what’s my parting advice? Keep closest those who are dearest! Doing the opposite is akin to being like a ship without an anchor. That ship can't dock anywhere and call that haven home, and we all know home is supposed to be where the heart is.

 

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