12 Things You Can Do to Have a Friendship That Stands the Test of Time
Good friends like good men are hard to find. There are seasonal friends, the kind that come into your life for a season. They are there for the transition in jobs, the relationship that goes sour, the project that needs to be completed, or the new job you started. Yet, they may leave your life, because their services are no longer needed or you can no longer benefit them. But good friends, they are the ones that are there for you through all seasons. They not only will call you on the phone, take you out in good times and in bad, but send you money whether you asked for it or not, offer to help you even if you insist they don’t and so much more! Good friends usually outlast marriages, are there through the death of loved ones, and support you even when your own family won’t. So what do you have to do to have a friendship that stands the test of time?
One. Take the time to communicate.
So many valuable friendships are lost because people get to busy in their lives to write a letter, an email, make a phone call or commit to a lunch date. Just as communication is important in a marriage, it is just as important in a good friendship. How can you call someone a good friend when you don’t communicate? Conversation was never meant to be a 250 page manual of tips. Most friends just want to know the significant details of your life and the latest happenings such as: your well being, the condition of your family, what projects or affiliations are you involved, and when will you be back in the neighborhood? Periodic communication is essential to a long lasting friendship. It doesn’t matter how many months or years, most likely you will pick up where you left off anyway.
Two. Be sincere, act like you care and ask questions.
One of my personal pet peeves I have with people, who call themselves friends, is the one-sided conversation. They ask you many questions about your life, but you get little if nothing in return from them. The other issues I have is the complete opposite, I ask them questions about what is going in their lives and they are barely interested in asking me any questions about mine. Good friends know the balance in conversing with one another. I ask you something, you answer. You ask me something I answer and so forth. A person who doesn’t know you very well will either hog the conversation—as if you aren’t there or barely say anything – as if you are talking to a wall.
Three. Be a good listener.
Good friends listen well. So well in fact that they know how to read into parts of the conversation that spell t-r-o-u-b-l-e! They will follow up with the popular question, “What’s really wrong?” They will let you talk forever when you really need someone to listen without interrupting you every few seconds telling you what you need to do.
Four. Know when to offer advice.
Sometimes there will be those times when your friend isn’t going to ask for your advice and you may have to keep quiet, but many times friends will ask one another what they think about one thing or another. The best way to give advice is in a form of a question that makes them answer their own dilemma such as, “Well you know in the past you did XYZ and did that work? Why not try doing ABC instead?” This way you have given them a choice and it’s up to them to make a decision, rather than telling them, “You should…You need…”
Five. Allow for space in your friendship.
There are those friends who call or stop by far too often. They wear out their welcome, so to speak. A good friend doesn’t have to be a needy friend, controlling, or a push-over. He or she can still be a friend without showing up uninvited, calling often and expecting a returned call promptly, and obligating you to put her down in your appointment book almost daily.
Six. Remember important holidays.
You know when you have a good friend when he or she can remember birthdays and other significant events better than you can. They will send you that unexpected card, make a phone call, or send a gift. These are wonderful gestures that are remembered for a lifetime.
Seven. Be helpful.
Great friends don’t need to be persuaded or given anything to be there for a friend. A friend will see a problem and offer to help without you having to ask or beg for assistance. Some people you have to offer to pay them to help you (this includes your own family) and others won’t let you forget what they have done either. There are those friends who will make you feel obligated to do something for them whenever they need something in the future all because you asked them to help you once when you needed them.
Eight. Acknowledge a loss.
Whether it is a pet or a relative, a good friend will be sympathetic to your loss. Some people demonstrate poor listening skills or don’t act as if they are empathetic when they jump right in with a story of their own without bothering to listen to your full story. They will say things such as, “I went through that too, and you know what I did…He isn’t worth crying for…You know Jesus will fix it.” The last thing you want to hear about is Jesus when you are grieving your loved one! People aren’t very careful about how and when to say something that could have been encouraging but came off sounding wrong.
Nine. Be supportive.
There is nothing like a good friend who supports you even when you are wrong or right. They won’t embarrass you in front of others, belittle you, or even puff you up. Instead, they know how to balance criticism with praise. They will support you even when no one else will.
Ten. Keep past memories alive.
Sometimes when life gets the best of you, a good friend will reflect on the funny, wild days of the past. They remind you of how far you have come in life and they encourage you to do something great to create new memories.
Eleven. Never forget your friend for important events.
One of the worst mistakes old friends make is to forget about one another for special occasions in life. Even if a friend says he or she is busy, overwhelmed with responsibility, or have a financial hardship, never assume that he or she won’t be able to make an important event in your life, so you don’t bother to mention it.
Twelve. Avoid the temptation to take what isn’t yours.
Once good friends end up being arch enemies, because they covet things in their friend’s life they shouldn’t. Worse, they allow their selfish desires to override the friendship and ultimately kill it. Have enough self-esteem and confidence within you, so that you aren’t taking what isn’t yours and if the temptation is too bad, distance yourself, maybe limit your friendship to the phone. It is better to leave a relationship with your reputation intact, than not.
This is just a short list of a host of things you can do to build a quality friendship that lasts a lifetime. If you sincerely desire a quality friendship, utilize these tips, your friends will be glad you did!
By Nicholl McGuire