This post continues the three-part series on friendship — how to ruin it and what to do to save it. If you missed last week’s post, it was about the danger of applying one’s perspective of “right versus wrong” on another person’s life and how important it is to suspend judgment and practice empathy. You can read it here.
Who knew there could be so many dangerous traps to ruin a friendship? These are the kinds of life lessons often learned the hard way, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Especially if we are keen to treat friendships like the valuable investment they are. Which brings me to the next dangerous trap.
Lack of Investment
I’m not talking about financial investment (though it may be fun to buy gifts or take friends out for a special occasion). The investment I’m referring to is all about time. YOUR time.
Think about this: what is it about your friends that draw you to them. Inevitably, it is something that you derive from the relationship. For a friendship to evolve, both parties must feel as though they are receiving some benefit. Maybe it’s companionship. Perhaps it’s intellectual stimulation. Or maybe it’s encouragement to be brave and believe that whatever big dreams you have can come true. No doubt about it, if you examine your friendships, you will see that you are getting “something” from them. The important thing to consider is what are you giving in return?
Friendships come and go, and most reasons they go is because the perceived benefit erodes. Erosion can result from shifting expectations or desires, but it can also be the outcome of your not giving the relationship the time and attention it needs to thrive, much less survive. This is the same of marriage; after all, what is marriage if not an intimate friendship?
All relationships need care and friendship is no exception. Sure, there are friends you’ve known forever but rarely see, and when you come together it’s like no time has passed. But those relationships are rare. They are more like family than friends. Friendships require maintenance. They require regular communications and check-ins. Friends need to know they are not forgotten. They need to know they are important to you. Friendships need love.
Have You Been An Absent Friend?
If any of your friendships have suffered neglect, here’s how you can try to save them.
Come clean. Admit that you’ve been absent (and neglectful) and tell your friend how important they are in your life. Ask how you can make it up and how much it means to you to reconnect.
Your friend will most likely be so surprised by your admission (even though it’s an obvious truth) that forgiveness is virtually guaranteed. Dr. Suess wrote,
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
Your friends — the true ones, those who matter — will love you even more for the admission. If they hold it against you, then maybe they don’t matter so much as you might have thought.
Don’t let the moment pass without setting up a time for the two of you to get together. When you celebrate your allocated time together, plan the next one too. In fact, a standing date is the best way to remain consistent. Maybe that’s a weekly catch up call or meeting on Sundays for brunch and a walk in the park.
Friendships may come and go, but they don’t have to. Some friends are worth their weight in gold — sometimes, even more.
- What friends have you neglected?
- How soon can you reach out to make things right?
Sheila Callaham is a best-selling author and motivational coach. She is currently in the process of becoming Texan. Connect with her on your favorite social media platform.