SisterFriends! 8 Tips on building & maintaining Strong Friendships

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Cups_what would i do

Can I be honest?  I enjoy low-maintenance friendships. You know the kind where you and your girl just “get one another”?  No drama…no extra…you don’t necessarily even have to talk daily or even weekly, but no matter what you are there for each other!

But while I prefer that type of friendship, if I’m honest, that type of comfort in a relationship comes over time. It matures over the two of us "doing life" together.  It develops as we are intentional about supporting one another, loving one another and being patient with each other.   And what I've  learned is that we can get so consumed with own lives, we don’t know how our action or inaction is impacting our relationships!

For many women, their “sister-friendships” are super important to them.  And for others, they desire more positive relationships with women, but just don’t know how to make it happen.  So with that in mind, I took some time to think about the lessons I’ve learned when it comes to friendship!

Below are EIGHT areas that I think are important. But I want to hear from you! What lessons have you learned? What would you add to my list?

 1. Real Friendships require an investment

Whether it is your time, talent or treasure, life teaches us that you get out what you put in.  If you are going to have a strong friendship, you must be intentional about engaging in the life of your friend. One article said it best, friendship is about Showing Up.  Even the Bible tells us if we want to have a friend, we must first show ourselves friendly.  If you are inconsistent with your friendship, then don’t be surprised when the relationship fizzles as a result.

2. Give your friendships space to evolve

People change. Let me repeat that. People change.  So if people change, of course our friendships are going to change.  Change doesn’t have to be a curse word (although for Type A’s like me, it can be).  When you hold your friendships captive to what they’ve always been, it can become suffocating.  Sure, the two of you use to turn up in the club (or maybe you got crunk at Bible Study…you choose), but if your friend no longer wants to hang out like you use too, find other ways the two of you can connect.  Now granted, that may mean you and your friend aren’t “thick as thieves” as you use to be, but that’s okay… give the friendship space to become what it needs to be in each season.

 3. Remember you have issues too

Listen, we all have crazy.  And when you can admit to your own crazy, it makes it easier for you to be more empathetic at someone else’s.  It’s easy to want to cut someone off, but remember you have ways about you that aren’t always pleasant and can be irritating. Shocking…I know!  I am sure, like me, you would want those in your friendship circle to pour you out a little (nooo…not that) grace and patience when you are working their nerves.  So before you pull out the scissors to cut your friend off, take a deep breath and make sure you don’t need to reconsider.

 4. Focus on the strengths your friend brings to the relationship

All of us have different strengths that make us special. Maybe your girlfriend is always late to a get-together (omg! I could strangle my perpetually late friends!) but that same girlfriend is the one who will show up at midnight if you need her (well, if you need her at midnight, she’ll be there at 1am…but she WILL be there). Or maybe you have a friend who rarely wants to hang out, but you know she will go to battle in prayer on your behalf. Instead of focusing on what may be lacking, celebrate the great things about your friend!

5. Talk it out

So many issues could be mitigated if we would just communicate with one another effectively. Whether it’s with friends or family, an inability to just talk things out can hinder a relationship from flourishing. If something happens that bothers you, be courageous enough to have the conversation. Share your expectations, your concerns, and even your unresolved frustrations openly instead of letting it fester. Note: Sometimes the issue may not be that you are afraid to have a conversation. The issue may be that you doubt the conversation would be productive because of the way you assume your friend would respond. If that is the issue, then THAT is the conversation you need to have!

6. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions

People are struggling. Some of your closes friends are dealing with some pretty serious life situations. And the truth is, they need you. But they may not know how to say that to you. Or they may not want to bog you down with their ‘stuff’.  So if you notice that your friend has become distant, more agitated or just not acting like themselves, don’t be afraid to ask them the tough questions. Find out what is going on. You might be the lifeline they so desperately need.

7. Pay attention to how you ‘show up’ in your friendship

Relationships can often serve as a mirror to what is going on within us. I often teach my clients that their interactions with friends, coworkers, even their spouse can help them see issues they need to work on. But here is the deal. Sometimes you find yourself acting out of character whenever you are around a certain friend. Maybe you find yourself being more argumentative then usual or maybe you become more pessimistic. Maybe whenever you spend time with that friend, you leave feeling frustrated but can’t pinpoint why.   If this is happening, remember, YOU are responsible for YOU. Your friend can’t MAKE you act a certain way, however, it may mean that you need to take a break from that relationship (maybe indefinitely). You need to sort through what is going on with you and what is really causing you to act out of character. Once you figure that out, then you can determine whether you want to reengage with the friendship, or not. Sometimes we just aren’t meant to be in relationship with someone, and trust me, its okay.

8. Let it be what it was meant to be

One of my dearest friends coined the term “placement issues”. I have officially stolen it from her because it is a perfect description of what often happens with relationships.  It is important that you don’t place more pressure (or expectations) on a friendship than what it is supposed to be.  Some friendships will only be the casual “let’s hang out every once in a while” type of relationship, but you are expecting that person to be available whenever you call.    Allow the relationship to be what it was meant to be, not what you long for it to be.  Trying to force something will only leave you both feeling frustrated!

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Mug

Do you want your friend to know how much you appreciate her?  Click HERE to get a "What would I do without you" Coffee mug for your friend! Just in time for the holidays!

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