Great friendships are the mark of a life well lived, but making and keeping friends can be particularly tough no matter how old you are. Haven’t we all been entangled in uncertainty and the gnawing feeling that a friendship is unhealthy or has lost its luster? Changes in friendships are natural, but not always easy. As I watch my three daughters navigate cliques, gossip, and girl world, I am inclined to clarify, for myself as much as for them, how does one know which friendships to invest in and which to let fizzle out?
I’m not going to lie; I’m a nerd. I LOVE RULES. Maybe it’s engrained in my brain from my profession, but I also love guidelines, standards and benchmarks, and as much as children protest, they crave and need rules, too. Rules create safety, and if we feel safe to be ourselves in our friendships, we are able to grow. Consider the FRIENDSHIP BILL OF RIGHTS fertilizer for the brain. If we pollinate the mind with a solid structure sooner, healthy friendships fester faster.
Think of your bestie, or even your gf/bf because it applies to romantic relationships too, and review the list below. Circle any statement that feels heavy, or doesn’t ring true for the two of you. If you find yourself circling more than two of the nine, you must know your rights are being violated. Only you can decide what is ‘healthy’ and ‘good enough’ for you, but in my world, I aim for all nine, all of the time. I’m teaching my girls the same.
Every relationship worth having takes effort and none of us are perfect. If I run into a trouble spot with a friendship that is valuable, I immediately start to self-correct and figure out a way to let them know how I feel and how we can correct it. For instance, if “Number 3: I have the right to ask my friend to be trustworthy,” is an area of concern, I ask myself how I contributed to the lack of trust. I’m a grown women, with lifelong friends, and I can tell you this, if trust is an issue for your friend, and it has not been an issue for you with any other friend, it’s likely you are not the one with the trust issue. Every friendship is different. But if you weigh in, does this feel right or wrong, light or heavy, and your friendship almost always leans to heavy, it just may be time to let it go.
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