Being a good friend is a tremendous responsibility. We don’t mean to take all the fun and dance out of it, but friendship does require much more than just a little time here and there. You have the responsibility to keep your end of the bargain and for most of the time, fulfill your role, that of a good friend.

How can we expect friends to possess the qualities we ask for and need from them if we can’t return the favor? Most of us take our friendships for granted. Whether they are long term or newly minted, friendships are often undervalued and ‘neglected’. We can certainly act selfishly towards friends, getting wrapped up in our own issues and problems ending up ‘using’ our friends when we need them the most.

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But no, it’s not all that bad. Most of us will follow this pattern but not because we ‘lack’ empathy or a sense of responsibility. We just sometimes don’t quite realise that a friendship needs effort and hard work. Like all relationships, friendships need nurturing, care and attention. More importantly, friendships are not formed from connections out of our control, such as family or offspring and all the things that usually keep people together. Friendships are created by conscious choice and selection

We are the ones choosing who are friends will be, how long for, what will be entrusted to them and how much of ‘us’ we are willing to share with them. Good friendships entail unlimited amount of love, giving and devotion.

To be  good friend you need to possess some necessary qualities:

You have to be faithful, reliable and open minded. Your best friends need to know that they can count on you. Life is not always straightforward so there will be times that you can’t  be readily available for something or someone, as long as your friends feel like they can reply on you for most of the times.

You have to be empathic, understanding and pleasant. Being empathic ‘is the ability to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions.’ There is a big fuss about ‘empathy’ now as it is the best way to understand the human nature and fully comprehend everything around us.

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Sometimes being pleasant is not possible. When life is hard and problems suppress all our other feelings, being pleasant is such a distant  notion. However, all people possess the ability to try to be considerate of others. Even if sometimes we feel  knocked down and out of our usual self, mostly we can make an effort to be pleasant for the people around us.

Forgive your friends and offer them your help. There is nothing more soul cathartic than offering any kind of help or assistance to someone in need. Get out of your way to help your friends – we all need someone to pick us up at times and make us feel like we are not alone.

Learn when honestly is needed. There are times that you should be absolutely honest with your friends even is that jeopardizes your friendship. There are also circumstances, though, where your opinion is not asked or needed. We all have to realize that friends are not clones of ourselves , thus we considerably differ in most things. You should act as a counselor, confessor, companion and a good listener.

In an ideal world your friends would do exactly the same for you. However, the reality is that our world is far from ideal and you will often be faced with feelings of disappointment, neglect or release that the same qualities are not offered back to you.

[quote_box_right]Anybody can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend’s success. – Oscar Wilde[/quote_box_right]

Decision time. If you feel let down by a specific friend take some time to think. Evaluate your friendship and what that person means to you. Wonder why they act the way they do and whether they were always like that. Try to emphatically understand their way of thinking and acting. What would you do different if you were them? Can you now understand their actions?

Consider the option of not being their friend. If you feel that this is the better way for the two of you to be then make a conscious decision and move on. If not, then realize that we are not all the same. Some people are capable of giving more than others. That in no way means that they love less. On the other hand, that in no way implies that they should also ‘use’ that as an excuse to not trying harder.

If the friends you love and want in your life don’t manage to live up to  your expectations, keep loving them. Don’t stop being there for them, helping and supporting them. Be there through all the rough times. Even if they push you away, still be there for them. Offer them a hug, a shoulder to cry on, someone to just listen or to make them some coffee. Remind them that life is hard, unfair and that they are not alone. Friends are indeed the family we choose, so make sure you nurture, respect and value them.

Be there for your friends even when everyone else has abandoned them. Be there to advise them. Be there for anything they might need to make them feel better.

[quote_box_center]True friendship comes when the silence between two people is comfortable. – David Tyson Gentry[/quote_box_center]

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Psychologist, world citizen, mother - Effie is one half of the alwaysladies.com founding pair. She can bring to life any party with either a smile, or a strong opinion. If like us you can't get enough of Effie, visit her blog at www.thethinkingmomblog.com

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