Friendships are important at any age, but they take on a different direction in the Middle Years. We look to our friends for guidance, love, and acceptance . Over time, we can lose focus of our relationships, and they grow stagnant. There are several ways to be a “good friend” and a crap load of ways to be a “bad” one. I know you can all relate! I have seen friendships end over stupid arguments, miscommunication and Facebook.
We all have relationships in our lives that we cherish, and ones that we keep holding onto even though they are not worthy of our strength or time. We crave the closeness and interaction friendship provides, and our feelings are hurt when this isn’t reciprocated. I have had my share of friendships from which I have learned hard lessons. You can’t force people to be in your life if they don’t want to be. This lesson goes for any relationship. Of course we want to hold on, and sometimes memories of the good times cloud our judgment.
I have a few friends that are going through life changing issues, and my heart is so heavy for them. I too have gone through situations recently that got me thinking, how can I be a better friend? What do I want in a friend?
Sometimes, we just need to sit back and reflect on what really important. In doing so, I came up with these tips.
8 ways be a better friend:
- Support your friends – This is so important. Even if your friends are doing something that you don’t approve of, you can still lend your support. If they ask for your opinion, give it and hope that they know that no matter what, you have their best interests at heart. If they are making a life change, encourage them. If your girlfriend is dating a dog, or her husband is a complete jerk, or her parenting skills are off the chart, be there for her. You just have to hope and pray that the situation turns out for the best.
- Listen – There are times when we just need to vent, and need an ear. It’s comforting to know that you have someone that is willing to just “listen” to you. Sometimes no words are needed, but just knowing that a friend is there speaks volumes.
- Reach out to them “just because” – It’s so comforting when I get a “thinking of you” text, or an emoji just saying hi. My girlfriends will send me a picture of a fun time that we shared. I do this a lot for my friends, especially the ones that I haven’t had a chance to see or talk to in awhile. You never know what kind of day your friend is having, and doing something as simple as reaching out can put a smile on her face. Everyone wants to feel as though they mean something to someone.
- Don’t be negative – Negativity is SO dangerous! You can crush a persons spirit with negative words. There is the old saying “misery loves company”. I don’t need that type of company. This tip applies to any and all relationships in your life.
- Simply “be there” – I can’t stress how important this is. When you know your friends are going through a tough time, reach out, pray for them and reiterate that you are there for them. No one wants to go though tough times alone, nor should they have to. We all have busy lives, but try to take the time to be present for a friend in need no matter how busy you are. I recently reached out to a friend in a time of need. She never returned my call or my text. Was I hurt? Of course, deeply, as I have always been there for her whenever she needed me. I realized that maybe our friendship wasn’t on the level that I thought, and that she didn’t feel that my need for help was important. Friendships should not be one-sided.
- Be yourself– Be friends with people who allow you to be “YOU”. You shouldn’t have to “pretend” to be someone you aren’t for the sake of friendship. How real is that? I want to be around people who love me for who I am (my three flaws and all.) If your budget allows you to shop at Target, yet your friends shop at Nordstrom all the time, is it fair to spend money you don’t have just to impress someone? Is this really going to make you feel fulfilled? If you cuss like a sailor and your friends don’t like you for that, then you should find friends who love you for the fact that you say what’s on your mind and see you as being “true to yourself”. Friendships should aid in personal growth, not hinder it.
- Don’t judge – We tend to have expectations of the people in our lives, and when they do something we don’t agree with, we can judge. Judgement is harmful. We have to accept people for “who they are” and remember why we choose to have them in our lives. No one is perfect.
- Say sorry – If you are wrong OWN IT. Don’t sweep it under the rug, or ignore the issue. It will lead to resentment. “I’m sorry” are the hardest words to say because we have to admit that we wronged another person. They are also powerful words because they lead to forgiveness. Be the bigger person. Holding grudges doesn’t help the situation.
In midlife, we start to focus on our lives and the people that are in it. We gain new friends, reconnect with old ones, and lose a few on our journey. Our large circle of friends, can grow small, and that’s okay. Some friends move into the acquaintance column, or leave your life completely, and that’s okay too.
You really have to look within yourself and decide what is right for you. Are these relationships genuine? Do these people have my back? If not, then its time to move on girl, because in the Middle Years, we have enough going on!
Friendships give us the opportunity to grow and learn more about ourselves. Cherish and nurture them; you will be a better friend for it.
This article originally appeared in The Middle Years Journey
My name is Crystal Arzu. I live in Corona (Southern) California. I’m 45 years old, wife of 20 years, and Mom to an 18-year-old daughter. I work full-time in the Healthcare Management industry. My blog is called The Middle Years Journey. Blogging is something that I had always wanted to do, so I decided to start one! I chose the niche of “Midlife” as there are many changes we face in our second half of life. Empty nests, death, divorce, menopause, changes in friendships are just some of the issues midlife women endure. I hope to reach other women and let them know that they aren’t alone in their midlife journeys. I believe midlife is OUR time of reinvention, self-reflection, and growth. My blog is a continual work in progress, but I am enjoying it. I’m learning about myself in the process, and for that I’m thankful.