Let your friends be the friends of your deliberate choice. This speaks volumes to me. I have been reflecting on relationships (mainly friendships) over the past few weeks. It’s fascinating to see how my friendships have evolved over time. Some have withstood many years and others have come and gone. As I was reflecting, I began to wonder “What is a friend?” “What does friend really mean to me?” Webster defines friend as “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.” People in a friendship was defined as “people in a relationship (the state of being connected).” After reading those definitions, I started to wonder about the type of connection I have to people, especially those I consider my friends.
When I watch my young children “make friends” it seems so simple. They go up to another kid at the park, ask their name, and start playing. They’ve made a connection, and they share a mutual affection over the slide or the sandbox. Often times my children have offered their new friend a snack or invited them to play with their toys. It makes me proud that they have the social skills and boldness to meet new people. Fast forward to adulthood – meeting new people is a task that stays on the horizon. However turning those people into friends is another ballgame. As adults we are a part of many different circles — work, sports, social clubs, religious organizations, and the circles of our friends/acquaintances/colleagues/and family. The net is cast wide to meet new people and make friends. So how do we build lasting connections?
Putting my own friendships under the microscope… I can say the basis of our friendship is the connection we’ve made over a number of things (childhood, family, likes, dislikes, hobbies, etc). The tricky part is staying connected and maintaining the mutual bond. There are two key ways to maintain a friendship, in my opinion:
1. I firmly believe in any type of relationship, you get what you give. Relationships are a 2-way street. If one person is putting in all of the work (checking-in, making sacrifices, suggesting plans to hang out) and the other person never does that or always fails to respond — that is not maintaining a mutual bond. I have friends that live near and far. I think it’s important that we keep in touch, however, I shouldn’t be the friend putting in all of the effort and vice versa. Human nature causes us to feel wanted or even flattered when people close to us make efforts to connect with us. If we keep that in mind, our friendships can stand the test of time.
2. Once we’ve mastered maintaining the mutual bond, we have to practice keeping the connection. Relationships are built on attraction. There was some characteristic you found and you liked in the people you have in your circle. We must always remember that when maintaining connections to our friends. I appreciate being the friend that my friends can talk to and come to whenever they are in need (knowing that I will help them out). I am drawn to people who are loyal, honest, and willing to make sacrifices when I’m in a place of need. When I consider my friends and how to keep our relationship going, I have to remember the qualities in them that I first connected with.
I can say that the friends who make up my circle now, are definitely here by my deliberate choice. Even though we have ups and downs, I know that because of our connection and mutual bond, our friendships will stand the test of time.
What kind of connections are you making with the friends in your circle?