Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Being a Better Friend

As I grow older, the one thing that becomes increasingly apparent is how hard friendships are. Back in high school, you were most likely friends with the people you were friends with because you had some, if not all, of your classes together. But then you all moved away for college and grew apart. Then the cycle repeats: friends in college, new class schedule/transfers/graduations, and you grow apart from your friends again.

Now obviously, I still have friends from high school and I still have friends from my first few years of college, and I'm sure you do, too. But overall, friendships are incredibly difficult to maintain. You will grow away from people you once considered close and people that you didn't consider at all will become your best friends. Hey, that's just the way that it goes.

When I look back on my friendships that didn't make it, a few things come to mind as to why they ended like they did: communication (or lack thereof), validation, and effort.


Communication | Perhaps the hardest of the three, communication is definitely the most difficult part in any relationship. Raise your hand if you've ever felt intimidated when you had to send a text to a friend, and were unsure of how they might respond? (Yeah, same. Red flag.) Or when you felt like your words were being heard, but you weren't actually being listened to? (Same, again! Red. Flag.) I'm no master of communication, and I'm definitely learning as I go along, but good communication is key. Something I have learned along the way that has significantly improved my communication skills with the people in my life is learning to use "I feel" statements in difficult conversations. It's so easy to be in a fight with a friend or roommate and say, "Well YOU never unload the dishwasher and I've done it every week for the past few months and I'm tired of that kind of attitude!" When you could say instead, "I just feel like I'm doing a majority of the chores, and it would be nice if we could all chip in around the house sometimes." Automatically it becomes a less aggressive statement, and no blame has been placed on one person in particular.

Validation | In a world where people (hello, me) judge their worth on how many Instagram likes they get, in-person validation from trusted friends matter so much more. (Heck, even comments from friends on said-Instagram posts go a long way in my book!) I recently was in a situation where I had to make a choice of keeping toxic friends in my life, or letting them go, and the thing that made my decision so much easier was when I realized that they never said anything positive about me, but expected me to praise them daily. Um, HELLO. Don't expect to receive if you don't give! Now that those friends aren't in my life anymore, I find myself surrounded by genuine friends who jump up and down with me when something positive happens, who read this blog every day (hi guys), and who - most importantly - help me pick myself back up when I'm feeling incredibly low. I guess, in short, love on your friends with every opportunity that you get. It is so so so important.

Effort | This is probably what I struggle with the most when it comes to friendships. For a while this past year, I really felt like I was the only one putting effort into almost all of my friendships. I would text first, make the plans, etc. I was obviously so excited for the friendship that I didn't even realize just how burnt out I felt from it. A few times after making plans and having this friend cancel on me at the last minute, I took a step back and looked at it. This relationship was so toxic. I was putting in 100% and getting 0% in return. That's not friendship, it hurts and makes you feel horrible about yourself when you did nothing wrong in the first place! If you want to be friends with someone, commit to the relationship and put just as much effort into it as you would want returned to you. If your effort isn't returned, then maybe it's time to move on. It sucks, and it's the worst feeling in the world, but a one-sided relationship with one person just isn't worth the stress.

Now, I'm not a relationship expert. I'm learning and growing as I move on from these toxic friendships. I would be nothing without the people I'm lucky enough to call my friends, and I hope you feel the same way about yours!

19 comments :

  1. The effort part is huge! And sadly, I'm the one in my friendships who sometimes falls short with that. It's not intentional, I guess I just get so wrapped up in my own little world I don't take the time to reach out to the friends who I don't see every day. Definitely something I need to work on.

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    1. I fall short on that end, too. I need to be better about sending short texts to say hi to the friends I don't see everyday.

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  2. Maintaining friendships definitely takes effort. Life happens and so often we become so caught up in our day to day responsibilities and friendships fall by the way side. I wrote in one of my post that regardless of my life obligations that I needed to do better with maintaining the close relationships that I consider valuable. Thanks for sharing this.

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  3. This is a powerful post. For a long time, I was attracting toxic people because my passive nature made it easy for them to take advantage of me. Now that I am slowly learning to be more assertive, I have taken a good hard look at my relationships and decided to sever ties with toxic "friends" and put more effort into strengthening relationships with people who actually care about me. Thank you for sharing this, Tori!

    Sockwun | ExtraExtravagant.com

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    1. Yes - I have also struggled with! Being passive in nature is hard because we are taken advantage of, or hardly considered at all! It's definitely a struggle but definitely worth it to have better friends.

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  4. I've definitely had to cut ties with toxic friends in the past! The effort aspect is huge especially after college when your schedules are so different!

    HashtagFabLife

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    1. I'm sure - I'm already dreading it!

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  5. This is such a thoughtful post! Loved it!

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you liked it!

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  6. These are great tips! My two best friends are from high school but staying friends over the past ten years is difficult with families and living far away from each other but so worth it!

    Greta | www.gretahollar.com

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    1. Ahh I'm sure! I can only imagine what goes down when y'all get together!

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  7. Effort! This has been the downfall of so many of my friendships. I too felt like I was the one putting in all the effort. Sigh.
    I've since surrounded myself with those who make the effort, and made me feel like they want to be my friend.
    Great post. :)

    Christie's Take on Life. xx

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  8. This is so great, wonderful tips!

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  9. These are great tips! Effort is definitely a HUGE part of being a better friend! I don't live close to my best friends, so it's important to make sure we are texting frequently and chatting at least once a week!

    xo Ashley

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  10. I think effort and communication go hand in hand. Anyone willing to put in the effort will work to keep up communication on a semi regular basis. it's so disappointing when you're the one (only one) putting in the effort.

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  11. This is all so true. It can be extremely difficult to maintain friendships when you're older-- effort definitely plays a big part in this. These are definitely areas I myself can improve them- I know I can be a better friend. Great post :)

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  12. I totally agree with everything you wrote here. Friendship is a two way street, and if both parties aren't benefitting from the relationship it's time to move on! Great post :)
    Danika | http://whatdanikadoes.com

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  13. Some people forget that friendship needs work and need to be maintained just as much as all the other relationships we cherish! Some great reminders even I needed reminding of!

    www.shewillneverlose.com

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  14. This is such a powerful post. I think people don't think of friendship as the big gift it really is. My very best friends are girls that have been through everything with me over the years, they are the girls that I can say absolutely anything to. We try to stay in communication regularly and we make a point of constantly validating each other.

    La Belle Sirene

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