People spend a lot of time talking about romantic relationships, but rarely do we talk about how to maintain friendships. Just like we invest in our careers by going to school to get a degree and attend professional development or invest in stocks to build financial wealth, we must invest in our friendships to build relational wealth. As humans we can't get through life alone and having solid people in our corner helps make the challenges of life a little bit easier. The key word there is SOLID. Sometimes we find ourselves calling everyone our friend, but that title isn't meant for just anyone. Also, sometimes we find ourselves holding on for dear life to friendships just because we've known a person for a long time. Length of time does NOT guarantee quality. Let me say that again, length of time does NOT guarantee quality. Not everyone knows how to be a good friend (even if they have been your friend since you all were younger) and what it takes to maintain a healthy friendship.
In the song What About Your Friends by TLC, they stated:
Every now and then I get a little easy
I let a lot of people depend on me
I never thought they would deceive me
Don't you know when times got rough
I was standing on my own?
I'll never let another get that close to me
You see I've grown a lot smarter now
Sometimes you have to choose
And then you'll see
If your friend is true they'll be there
With you through thick and thin
What they were speaking on is a sad fact that some people are unable to show up for anyone, but themselves and those are definitely not the type of individuals you want to call friend. Here are some key characteristics that I believe are imperative to have in a friendship in order to ensure that you have the right kind of people in your corner.
Reciprocity: relationships should be mutually beneficial. They will not always be 50/50, but you should be connected with people who will pour into you just as you should be pouring into them.
Transparency: if you can't be honest with your friends are they really your friends? We have to get comfortable with telling people that we care about the truth. Caring truth is not meant to tear down, it is meant to identify, acknowledge, and build up.
Reliability: being able to go to a friend at all times, times of joy and times of hardship. A true friend is someone that shows up for you in all times versus disappearing when things get rough. To me this is more important than loyalty because you can't be loyal if you aren't reliable. Reliability is defined as the quality of being trustworthy or of performing consistently well.
Intentionality: we should be approaching everything in life with intentionality and that includes our friendships. When we are intentional with the people in our lives we place value and importance on that relationship, which leads to wanting to create more time to continue to build that connection. Let it be known that the building does NOT stop once you get comfortable. We should be continuously building the relationship because people change and as we grow sometimes we may grow in different directions. This does not mean that there can't be a friendship, what it does mean is that we may have to work a little harder at maintaining the friendship (if we see it as important in our lives).
That list is not the end all be all to characteristics you should be considering in your friendships, but I want to encourage you all to evaluate your friendships often. Don't be afraid to have a discussion with the people in your life about what's going right and what may need improvement. Upon reflection don't be afraid to shift people in your life accordingly. Quality is always better than quantity and you are deserving of quality relationships.