Are Your Friendships Fulfilling You?
As I’ve gotten older, life often gets in the way of spending lots of time maintaining relationships, especially friends. As a person with responsibilities like a job, a house, a partner or even children, you have to make very calculated decisions on how you prioritize your relationships or else they will fall to the wayside.
Brene Brown, a top researcher on vulnerability from Texas, writes that human beings are hardwired to connect with each other. Relationships are the core of our purpose -- which is why most of our human experience revolve around creating, maintaining, thriving in and falling in and out of relationships with other people.
I’ve been reflecting recently on how I define and connect with my friends, new and old. I’ve determined some criteria that can be helpful to make decisions on how to manage relationships while making sure your connection is mutually fulfilling.
Four Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Friendship
Do you trust each other? Trust is the cornerstone to any relationship. Brene Brown defines trust as choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else. She explained how trust is a lot like a marble jar that gets filled over time when you share things a person and they hold your trust. When something trust-breaking happens, a marble comes out. “We often think trust is built by grand gestures at crucial moments in our lives, but trust is typically built with simplicity and small actions.” Trust takes courage and the people you spend your time and energy with should honor that courage by keeping and building your trust.
Do they challenge you? Diversity in all its forms is important -- whether that be race, gender, perspective, age, or point of view. The people you choose to surround yourself with should help you ground your values and beliefs by challenging the way you see the world. They should be your built in checks and balances system. And, you should be comfortable challenging each other when your behavior is out of control; and support each other at a crossroads. A worthwhile friend should love you even when you disagree, and respect you when you make a decision that is not aligned with their opinion.
Do you regularly express love to each other? We all express love in different ways. Whether that be in gifts, text messages, showing up, phone calls, making a trip, or generally doing nice things for each other -- we all have our own love language. Having a mutually satisfying love language with your friends (even if it is unspoken) is really important. It’s the glue that holds a friendship together, especially as you get older and have competing priorities.
Do you admire them? Is there something you can learn from this person and their life experience? Admiration shouldn’t be a tool that makes the dynamic uneven, but should serve as a door to connection. Admiration is inherently linked to respect -- if you hold your friend in high esteem (and they do the same for you), respect, pleasure, and a growth mindset are at the core of your relationship.
These 4 questions will help you redefine your relationships and make sure they are an investment you want to make. Dive right in!