How To Be A Good Friend
For many, our friends are an extension of our family. They’re there when the going gets tough, are some of the first people we call to laugh or cry with, and are our continual support system. They celebrate with us, make us smile after a bad day, stand up for us, and give us a hug when there are no words to console.
With all that our friends do and are in our lives, it’s so important to remember to maintain the friendships that mean the most to us. Like any relationship, this takes work, which is why when we came across some tips from Mark Matousek, author of “Ethical Wisdom for Friends: How to Navigate Life’s Most Complicated, Curious and Common Relationship Dilemmas”, our attention was immediately gained.
Below are his top 5 pieces of advice for maintaining a healthy friendship!
IMAGE VIA JULIA CAESAR
1. Identify your true friends.
“Know who those people are who you can count on 24/7, who [are] really paying deep, close attention to you,” and accept the distinction between this inner circle of comrades and those for whom you aren’t a first priority, he says. Then, set your expectations accordingly. Know, too, that a Facebook friend does not make a true friend. “In the digital age, it’s really important to remember, friendship is what’s private and intimate and exclusive between you.”
2. Live and let live.
Don’t try to fix your friend or his or her particular challenges – unless they are in physical danger. “Your job is to support them as best you can, to mirror back to them truthfully and compassionately what they’re saying to you, but to be on a white horse and to try and save your friends’ lives? No, that’s self-righteousness, and that’s not what friends do,” he says.
Matousek also warns against sharing judgements about a friend’s spouse or relative. “When you trespass the sanctity of another person’s romantic or family relationships, you’re in dangerous territory,” he says. And even if your advice is solicited, proceed with caution, because your words will live on, long after you say them.
Unlike the bonds of marriage or family, which are circumscribed by law and biology, no such thing exists for friendship, making the relationship particularly vulnerable. “We need to do know that the friends in our lives accept us and are [as] close to unconditionally loving to us as possible, or else friends are the first to go … It’s such a voluntary relationship.”
3. Beware the narcissist – and your own blind spots.
The person who can’t feel happy for your good news, or always redirects the conversation back to himself? Those are some red flags that someone is using you for selfish reasons. “It’s very hard to have a relationship with a narcissist that has mutuality and depth,” Matousek says. So how do you spot the warning signs? By paying attention. “Often people are showing their hand in ways that we’re not necessarily paying attention to, but the information is there,” he says. “Friends very often sort of fall in love with each other” and, consequently, into the trap of idealizing someone. “You don’t tell yourself the truth about what you have actually intuited or noticed from pretty early on.”