Your Instagram following and Facebook count may be at 500 but how many of them do you count as true friends? And how many will stand the test of time? What if the friendship you valued so dearly evaporated into thin air overnight without warning? That’s what happens when someone ‘ghosts’ you: the new buzzword of the millennials to describe when a friend purposely and systematically cuts you out of their life. Phone calls aren’t returned, text messages are ignored and you may even be blocked on social media. Ghosting originally surfaced in the dating arena but is now becoming common place in friendships too. It’s a pretty dark place to find yourself in if you had really invested in that friendship.
We all know that friendships take on so many changes from childhood to our late twenties. The hayday BFFs who we knocked back tequilas with in our boob tubes are probably not the friends we count on now in times of need (if we could only remember their names). Sometimes we hang onto thin fragments of friendship with our fingertips, trying to remember what brought us together in the first place. We continue to push them on. But after a while the communication turns into one liner emails, Facebook likes and at best Christmas cards. We need to understand that sometimes a friend is only part of a short chapter of our lives for a reason. No sooner has that chapter ended, so too has the friendship. It’s not necessarily a bad thing and it’s best not to desperately clutch onto it if the bond has already dissolved. Instead you should let them go in the knowledge that you shared a time in your life that made you who you are today.
So how do you navigate life knowing that the besties by your side now will still be there in twenty years time when you compare wrinkles and grandchildren?
Here are the 5 steps you can take to future proof the friendships that matter to you:
SHOW YOU CARE
By investing time in your friendships you will start to build layers of depth and trust. Which is why spending what little free time we have with five truly valued friends is better than spreading yourself thinly over ten (at best) aquaintences. Show you care by going the extra mile when someone least expects it. If there’s something you could do to help lessen the load from your bestie then offer to help: have her kids for tea if she’s feeling stressed, take a chore off her list or pick her up a little gift unexpectantly if she’s feeling down. Show you care by being kind, Always ( Miss Manners ‘Kindness Rules’ doesn’t just apply to children!)
Trust is one of the most important building blocks in strengthening any relationship. It can be broken between friends by just one unintentional school gate gossip. Keep secrets sacred, your promises unbroken and always be dependable. A good friend should be a loyal one so always be sure to have your friends back in company. Trusting someone with your woes and fears takes courage so remember to stay neutral and not harbour grudges against other people on her behalf (after all, the following day she may have sorted it all out).
BE HONEST (BRUTALLY IF YOU HAVE TO)
Honestly, you’ve got to be honest. When asked, give your opinion freely but thoughtfully. A tactful ‘I’m not sure that colour does a lot for you’ is better than telling your friend in the fitting room that she looks 10 kilos heavier wearing white. Don’t let issues fester – confront them as they arise with maturity. If something is bothering you be open about it and try to find a resolution. Then move on. Never hold a grudge (reserve those for your other half!). Speaking of honesty – remember it’s important to judge when to speak the truth and when to button it. We all tell white lies to protect our loved ones and that’s okay if it won’t hurt your friend in the long run. Honesty should be internalised at times too – if you are wrong about something, be quick to admit it.
USE YOUR EARS
Too often we listen but don’t hear. We can’t wait to give our advice before our friend has even finished speaking. Sometimes the smallest voices say the biggest things so make sure you don’t drown them out. Ask open ended questions so your friend can talk freely. Good friends who know each other well tend to have a short cut for listening and can often interrupt each other guessing the conclusion. It’s handy at times to almost read each other’s minds but give your friend a chance to talk before you jump in with your own oars. Use your intuition, maybe your friend doesn’t need advice, just a shoulder to cry on. Remember to always be there, even in silence.
Laughter is good for the soul and having fun together should be an integral part of your friendship. We shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously and having a friend that can take you down a peg or two in jest is a good thing. Do things that you both enjoy together, like plan a weekend hike, enrol in a course or take time out and go to the movies together (with a cam combo of course).
Thursday June 8th is National Friendship Day so share some love with her.
Things are never quite as scary when you have a best friend. Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes)
There comes a point in your life when you realise who really matters, who never did and who always will
Being honest may not get you a lot friends but it’ll always get you the right ones. John Lennon
Friends listen to what you say. Best friends listen to what you don’t say.
Nothing compares to the pain of a belly ache from laughing too hard with your best friend.
Friendship Defined – Camilla
“My sister in law, Niamh, said something to me many years ago which I have never forgotten: ‘If by the time you are 40, you can count on one hand the number of people you could phone at 4am in an emergency, you are very lucky’. Very wise words and I am happy to say that having put this to the test I know I can count on my friends”
Friendship Defined – Merrigan
“To me the ultimate test of friendship is one of mutual trust and belief. I always think that if I was stuck hundreds of miles away from home and I asked a friend to come to me but couldn’t tell them why, would they turn up? Maybe only two or three would make an appearance and I think I already know who they are – a few ‘die hard’ friends is enough for me.”