Does anyone else out there ever feel like they are a really good friend, but sometimes are too good of a friend?
Now, hear me out, because I’m about to be super vulnerable, super transparent and super honest.
I feel like this a lot. Like I go the extra mile plus the extra mile, and don’t get the return on investment. Speaking from a business standpoint, if I were to do this in my career, then I would scrap it. If the ROI doesn’t pan out, then I’m not making any money, I’m not advancing in my trade and I’m not getting any recognition that will in turn, enhance that ROI. So, in the end, I would consider the idea, or the sweat equity, an idea that didn’t pan out.
Friendship doesn’t really work that way. If we don’t feel like we are getting a return on our investment, it’s a little harder to throw the relationship out. Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t looking for a tit for tat kind of situation, nor are we doing these “extra mile” things in an effort to gain something. We really, really are just those kinds of friends, people, wives, daughters, sisters, etc. This is not news for me, as I’m sure it’s not news for many of you… We’ve been like this our whole lives.
As a child, my mom called it the Momma Bear syndrome, where I seemed to care a little too much about everyone, taking care of things that they didn’t even know they needed taken care of. Catch my drift?
As an adult, I have found that it’s more commonly referred to as being empathetic, or in my case, overly empathetic. You know, because I can’t seem to do much in moderation, including friendship. I have to do it to the extreme… much like the rest of my life. Don’t do anything haphazardly, apparently.
Anyway, back to my point. And just to clarify, I am not looking at friendship like I would a business transaction. But the analogy still stands. If you’re not getting a return on your investment in the friendship, why do you keep making the investment?
In my mind, I justify this by telling myself that I am just a really good friend. Which in turn, makes me feel good about myself, which is kind of the point. Because if I don’t tell myself that, then I just begin to feel things like: taken advantage of, misunderstood, a pushover, etc. Again, catch my drift?
More than my own experiences, though, I feel like I have learned a lot from the friends I have that are really good at being friends. I have some AMAZING friends. My tribe is pretty badass, and I like to think that we all have learned and will continue to learn how to be good friends to each other.
But friendship can be really hard. Relationships change and transform and migrate, and as such, so do our abilities to be a good partner in those relationships. And frankly, some days (or seasons in life) are so much harder to be a good friend.
What I’ve learned is that there are a few key transactions that equate to being a good friend. And at times, we can’t do all, or any, of them. And other times, we will knock them out of the park all at once.
So if you’re in a season of trying to be a better friend, or in a season of trying to build upon some existing friendships, these tips are for you.
Favors – do them! As Sheldon Cooper explains it, “an integral part of the implied covenant of friendship.” More importantly, return them. When a friend, or anyone really, does you a favor, it’s customary (and kind) to return the favor with something as, or more, meaningful. Favors imply that you are willing to give up something of yourself, whether it be time, money, resources, food, etc., for that person. The favor speaks strongly to those who have the strong love language of Acts of Service. Meaning, they find value and love in the acts of service they do for people, and the acts of service people do for them.
Remember important days, and recognize them. It’s worth the time and inconvenience of doing things like jotting them in your calendar, setting a reminder on your phone, or even planning in advance. I’m not really talking about days like birthdays, holidays, relationship anniversaries. Instead, focus on days like: 1) one-year anniversary of their father passing away; 2) the day they are graduating with their Master’s degree; 3) the day they have an interview they’ve been nervous about; 4) their important doctor’s appointment. Anyway, recognizing these days, and letting them know you are thinking about them, will be just what they need. Love comes in so many forms, and one of them is knowing others care about you and are taking the time to remember things that are important to you.
The Invitation. To anything. To your mom’s spaghetti night. To bowling. To brunch. To beginner’s yoga. Invite your friends, and if on the other side, accept the invitation! There’s nothing worse than wanting to do something, and hearing later that your friend went and did it and didn’t invite you. It’s never intentional, and completely an honest mistake, however, taking the initiative to make sure to invite your friends to things is imperative. On the flip side, accepting invitations is just as important. The more you turn things down, the less likely you are to get invited again, and that friend inviting you starts to feel like maybe you don’t want to do things with them. The all, ever important invitation. Don’t take it lightly. Remember to invite your friends.
Honesty. No matter what. A good friend doesn’t tell you that your crappy idea is in fact a good idea. A good friend tells you how stupid that idea is, and brainstorms with you to make a better idea. A good friend tells you when you have had too much to drink, when you have something in your teeth and when you are being completely ridiculously hormonal. Or in my personal experience, I appreciate when my friends tell me that I’m holding impossible expectations, or that I’m invading on their personal decisions. I tend to do that and I will never get better about it unless my friends tell me that I need to work on it. So, thank you ;)
Speaking of, respect each other’s personal space. There are some things that are just “too close.” Sometimes, friends really just want to spend time alone. Or with their spouse. Or with their kids. Sometimes they need quiet time to think, or a night on the town with their college roommates. Sometimes, and this is particularly important when opinions differ, friends need space to process what’s happening (in the world, in their relationships, in their relationship with you, in their job, etc.). This is when respect of personal space become imperative. Everyone processes things differently, and when that happens, we need to respect the way the other friend does it. If (like me) they need to talk it out, but you are more of an introverted processor, it can be challenging to cater to the other’s needs. But it’s really important that we do. Take the time to process internally, then make sure to dedicate the time to hash it out later. Don’t discount your friends’ ways of processing or recouping or dealing or whatever. It’s the only way to come out alive sometimes, and that’s the most important thing.
Finally, grace. Remember when I said we all go through seasons? Ya, well sometimes seasons can be hard to grasp and deal with when your friend is going through one. And what the friend needs is grace. Big time. Give each other grace every time one says something they probably will regret tomorrow, or didn’t even mean altogether. Give each other grace when you don’t agree with each other’s decisions, grace when you’re mad, grace when you’re happy, grace when you’re high on life and grace when you’ve hit the rocks. I told a client the other day that our common vendor needed a little grace (they hadn’t responded to an email my client sent them, and my client was frustrated a few days later at the lack of response). My client asked why they needed grace when she was on a deadline. I told her that they had a family emergency that wasn’t public knowledge, and needed some time to process. Immediately understanding that in fact, grace was needed, my client quiety nodded and was even more pleased when she received her email response the next day. Same applies to friendship. Even though you’re friends, you may not know the whole story. But friends ALWAYS deserve the benefit of the doubt, and more imperatively, grace in all things.
PHOTOS of the Baby Bliss party at the Peacher Farm by the lovely RACHEL ALLENE