What it takes to be a friend
- Published 11/08/11 11:00 am
Beyond time, depth and trust are important factors.
But even in the closest of friendships, dynamics can change. Some people just accept the change and move on, while others delve into it and work to mend and preserve the friendship – especially one that has seen not only many years together, but challenges too.
One of my clients, we will call her Maureen; had a friend named we will call Sally. They had been friends for almost 30 years. Maureen was by Sally’s side during her breast cancer, mastectomies and various family crises. Sally drove Maureen to the hospital for tests and surgery as well. Their children grew up together, their husbands were friends. Sally stood by Maureen during her divorce – and so it went. But something happened to the dynamic of the friendship when over time, Sally did not return Maureen’s calls, letters or emails.
When Maureen approached me about this, I sensed what it was. Sally confided in Maureen about almost every detail of her life – she was Sally’s closest friend and she shared things with her that she would never even tell her family. When many stressors were building up in Sally’s life, all the pain and frustration was told to Maureen. So Maureen became a subconscious source of Sally’s pain when she linked the pain to her. Since Sally wanted to avoid pain, she avoided Maureen. Finally after the urging of her husband, Sally called Maureen.
Sally was sorrowful and tearful and told Maureen that several times she would park her car across the way from Maureen’s house trying to get up the courage to speak to her friend to get the friendship back on track. When the two finally did meet after several months, they hugged and cried – Sally realized what happened – and to Maureen’s relief, she finally was at peace knowing that the temporary split was nothing she had done or said.
So the final components? Communication and respect.
How many friendships become side-tracked or even ended because one friend believed the other was avoiding them, and all because of a lack of communication? Hurt feelings, resentment and misunderstandings can easily happen.
But a true friend has learned that trust and communication are key elements to any relationship. Added to this is an understanding that friends are not to be taken for granted. In order to have a friend, you must be a friend and allow for give and take on both sides. It is key that friends’ honour and respect each other’s interests as well as share in joys and sorrows – to be there when it counts and when times are hard – then the celebrations are so much more joyous!
If you are in need of help understanding, communicating or mending the relationships or friendships in your life, I can help! As a therapist, I am here to listen so that I can help you to mend your broken heart or a broken friendship and to help you see that with balance, caring, trust, depth, understanding and open communication, your relationships can be better than ever – perhaps even the friendship of your dreams!