I once heard that friends can break your heart just as much as a lover can, and I completely agree. Being a person who considers themselves to be a pretty good friend, I often find myself disappointed by people who don’t reciprocate the same level of loyalty, trustworthiness, and genuine companionship . With that said, my ride-or-dies (you know who you are), are the people who have been able to withstand the test of time and distance, and whom have never made me doubt their friendship abilities. It’s taken me years and years and years (I kid you not) to finally say that I am 100% over the moon with my circle of friends, and people that I am proud to know. You are who you are always around, right? So why not surround yourself with the best?
Mainly through high school and until this year, I definitely found myself facing some tough lessons in friendship. I discovered that the majority of people you call your “friends” – the people you would do anything for – are not always willing to meet you half way. I thought this post would be based on these lessons, and hopefully you’ll be able to learn from my mistakes, or even just enjoy a personal story or two (grab a cuppa because this might be a lengthy post!)
I guess I’ll start by saying that I haven’t always been the perfect friend. Like most relationships, friendships are never going to be completely smooth sailing. But, what I think makes me a good friend now is the recognition itself that friendships are always going to be bumpy. It’s what you do with this information that defines your friendship.
I started out being the girl that everyone walked over. I definitely realised somewhere along the track that my inner circle weren’t people that genuinely loved and respected me as much as I did them. This subsequently made me a ruthless (and even insecure) friend – I went through a couple of years where I would cut friendships short if I even so much as suspected that someone was disingenuous. Obviously, this philosophy wasn’t getting me anywhere – I still ended up with people in my life that stabbed me in the back, talked complete shit about me, and treated me as if my friendship were disposable and meant nothing to them.
I was left completely confused. I have inherently awesome friendship qualities. I just wasn’t attracting the kind of friends that were willing to bounce them back. So, after a lot of consideration, I adjusted my philosophy. I realised that I shouldn’t be cutting friendships short if they’re able to be fixed – obviously, though, if a friendship is straight up making you miserable and is beyond repair, then do yourself a favour. But, as I said before, friendships take hard work from both sides. I decided to give people more of a chance, and also promised to fine-tune my own friendship skills.
Lesson One: Friendship is a two-way street
This was a really tough lesson for me, particularly when I moved from New Zealand to Australia. My friend group and I swore to keep in touch, and we did for a short while. But I realised that our Skype times were becoming few and far between, and that the same level of effort that I was willing to put in to maintaining our friendships was dying off on their end. I get it, people have their own lives and life gets busy. But my own life was busy and yet I continued to prioritise time with these people. There was never a definitive time that I could pinpoint and say that this moment was where our friendship came to a halt, because that’s simply not the case at all. If I saw these people in the street, I would definitely still have a chat. But I can say that the moment I realised I was putting in way more effort than was reciprocated was the moment that our friendships were never the same. And that’s okay. Friendships fade over time, especially when you throw distance into the mix. But, I did keep two amazing friends from this group, who continue to meet me in the middle, and prove time and time again that our friendship means just as much to them as it does to me. I also have a friend who’s in America for the next few months, and we continue to keep in touch despite the distance. Friendship is definitely a two-way street, and if you’re not being treated the way you deserve (after trying really, really hard to maintain it!), then sometimes it’s best for your own sanity to let these kinds of friendships fade.
Lesson Two: Being the bigger person is not always easy, but it’s worth it
I’ve had two particular friendships that have forced me to be the bigger person even when I didn’t think they necessarily deserved it. These are friendships that I knew deep down were just not going to work, mainly because I knew that we weren’t compatible as friends. One of these friendships died off years ago. The other, I felt I wasn’t getting anything from – they would leave me drained and deflated every time we saw each other. I’ll be real and admit that these particular friendships made me frustrated and upset often, and once I realised it wasn’t healthy to hold on to them, I let them go. I realised it’s okay to not be friends anymore but still want the best for them. Friends play such a massive part in your life, and holding onto grudges and anger and frustration just isn’t healthy. Being the bigger person and doing something as simple as wishing them a happy birthday, or maybe even having a coffee with them once in a blue moon, will make you a better friend and healthier person in the long run.
Lesson Three: Keep the people you absolutely love and let them know it often
This is the biggest friendship lesson I’ve learned thus far – work at your most treasured friendships. Ensure that these people, the beautiful, golden, amazing people who love you as much as you do them, know how much you adore them. I’ve found that certain friends respond to different forms of appreciation – some appreciate a phone call, some a thoughtful gift, and some a chatty afternoon over a beer – it all depends on your relationship. Last year my boyfriend and I threw a “Friendsgiving” dinner to show a little appreciation to some of our nearest and dearest. Regardless, good friends deserve to know how amazing they are, and even a little text to tell them you’re thinking of them will put a smile on their face. Be as good to them as they are to you, and you will never lose them.
Remember, being a good friend is all about being the kind of friend you’d want to have. There are a million ways to be a good friend, and I hope these lessons have provided insight into just a couple. Caitlin xx