You love your friends, but that doesn’t mean some days they won’t drive you absolutely mad. Like any relationship that you hold dear to your heart, sometimes friendship can have a love-hate dynamic. How many times can she talk about the same bad-news guy she’s dating without realizing that he’s not The One? Did she really just criticize your career choices when she’s still finding herself? Those who loves us the most, often put us through the most stress. For every day that you can’t live with them, you know there are twice as many more that you won’t be able to live without them.
What’s important is to know how to safeguard your friendship from the biggest threats that might come its way. Friendship expert Shasta Nelson says the biggest dangers to true friendship are blame, jealousy, judgment, neglect and non-reciprocation. “Unfortunately, they can't all be avoided,” says Nelson, who’s the author of Friendships Don't Just Happen!. “The truth is, we're human, we have expectations of each other, and we have needs we want filled so we're bound to experience these threats from time-to-time. What we can do is be aware that some frustration and disappointment is normal in relationships, that we're just as likely to be the subject of her annoyance as she is ours, and that the most important thing in these moments is deciding how we can best respond in ways that grow our friendship.” But, how, you ask? Nelson offers these four steps!
How can I show up a little more thoughtfully?
Let’s first assume there is something we could do to enhance this friendship. Even if we feel she is the problem, what comes to mind? In other words, she may be jealous, and we don’t want to play smaller to avoid her jealousy, but could we affirm her more? If we feel neglected, can we write her an email and say, “I miss you. Can we schedule some time together?”
What is it I actually want from her?
For example, if we feel that we’re always the one giving more than the other (non-reciprocation), then we must pause and ask ourselves, what is it I actually want or need? If she just noticed what I gave and thanked me, would that be enough? Or is there a specific area I need her to give to me more? Or, do I need to know what I do for her that means the most so I don’t waste my time or money giving to her in ways that aren’t all that important to her?
Have I already asked her for what I need?
We so often end friendships without taking the time to let the other person know what we need or how we feel. It doesn’t always have to be some big and difficult conversation as much as just some guidance where we can tell the other what’s more meaningful to us. If we feel frequently feel judged when she gives advice or opinions, then it’s appropriate to say, “I just need a friend to listen right now. I don’t need anyone to try to fix this.”
What could forgiveness look like in this situation?
Sometimes, forgiveness means letting go of how we want someone to be in our lives and learning to love and enjoy them just as they are, trusting that they’ll keep growing and maturing along the way. But sometimes, forgiveness also means setting boundaries or limiting our exposure to those who have hurt us. In this case, if it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, what kind of a friendship might we still be able to enjoy?
How do you avoid escalating drama in your dearest friendships? Share your strategies below!