Relationships Require Work
Handling Issues in a Mature Manner
|Act Like a Grown Up|
|Good relationships demand a level of maturity-|
"It isn't sufficient just to want- you've got to ask yourself what are you going to do to get the things you want."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
I think that Roosevelt's words are perfect in answering the series of questions that I posed.
|Friendships Require Work|
manner. Instead, we choose to let the friendship go, and we move forward with our lives, feeling relatively unscathed. While we may have many relationships that we are not too afraid of losing, we also having a number of relationships that we ascribe value. These important relationships can come in the form of a best friend, a spouse, a sister, an aunt, etc. The relationship title is not what matters in this scenario. What is significant is the amount of care that we have for the relationship and the other person involved. These connections are what we "want" and wish to maintain and protect. But as Roosevelt says, it is not enough to simply want; we need to come up with a plan in order to achieve or obtain what it is that we desire. I feel that this quote can be applied to the want we feel with respect to sustaining our valuable personal relationships.
This past week it was necessary for me to figure out what it was that I needed to do in order to protect two separate relationships, both of which I regard as important to both me as well as my life. My life circumstances have changed the way I think about friendship, and has forced me to reconstruct my view of best friends or close friends. I have about five, maybe six, friends who I refer to as my best friends. They range in age from 17-40 and they live all over North America, from Montreal to Los Angeles to New Jersey. I don't get to see most of them a lot of the time. We can go over a year without seeing one another, but, that doesn't change the fact that we are good friends. Time and distance does not matter when you truly connect to and love a person. Time and distance may not threaten our friendships but other factors can. Last weekend my best friend from New York was supposed to visit me in Philadelphia. We hadn't seen each other in 8 months and I could not wait for her to arrive. I prepared everything with pain staking attention- cleaning my apartment, stocking my refrigerator with wine and diet soda, stashing a bottle of Grey Goose in the freezer, and carefully
|"I prepared everything..."|
|Time to handle the issue in a mature manner-|
|"...I ended up having a blow out fight..."|
|"What are [we] going to do?"|
When we ascribe value to a relationship we are making a choice that this connection is something that we want. Like anything else in life that we want, maintaining meaningful relationships requires work, and demands that we plot a course in order to achieve our desired ends. When it comes to sustaining friendships the course is never easy nor is it ever the same. Each friend that we have is unique and subsequently the steps required for holding on to each friendship will be unique as well. However, I believe that there is a general rule to applied when working to maintain, protect, and salvage relationships: Act like a grown up. So you are probably wondering what exactly I mean by this? The following is a list of what I believe to be a few (but definitely not all) of the necessary actions involved when striving to behave as a mature adult in a relationship.
- Be honest about your feelings. A true friend will listen and try to understand your point of view. Holding back will only lead to hurt feelings and unintentional damage.
|Sometimes you don't have a choice-|
- Listen to the other person. When I say listen I mean really listen. Don't just sit there while the other person is talking while your brain zooms off into outer space. Good friends give the other person in the friendship the opportunity to use their voice and share. A great friend actually listens to their words and responds thoughtfully and appropriately.
- Give and receive. Relationships must be mutual in order for them to be successful. One-sided relationships usually lead to the giver feeling resentful and occasionally leaves the receiver feeling either guilty or overwhelmed. All relationships involve a give and take. If you find yourself constantly giving (as I often do) then maybe it is time to lay off for a bit and give your friend the opportunity to be the giver.
- Fight fair. This is a concept that my Mother always tried to force upon during my childhood. So what exactly is fighting fairly? Well I think my Mother was trying to tell me that when we are engaged in an argument or disagreement we should not rely on nasty statements or cruel jabs in order to bring the other person down. Calling someone fat or a bitch may make you feel good in the moment, because you have successfully hurt the other person, but you will probably regret name calling of this sort later on. Additionally fighting fairly allows you to get down to the real problems at hand. It is constructive because it moves the relationship in a forward direction. You may be fighting but you are not wasting breath on words that hold no real value. Instead you can argue about what is actually bothering you, rather fighting over/in gibberish.
- Face issues as they come. I think that this may be the most importantly guideline when it comes to friendships. Too many relationships dissolve because of grudges or because those involved chose to stew instead of addressing a problem in the moment. If we fail to face problems at the moment that they arise they tend to get thrown into a large pile of already existing issues. At some point the pile will get too large and everything will spill out. A bunch of little things suddenly become one massive thing and can result in the demise of a relationship. Don't let little things slide all the time. If something is bothering you than let your friend know in the moment. Doing so will prevent an emotional explosion later on down the road and could possibly save your friendship.
|Can't help but indulge my inner-child !|
Hold your friends close (even when they are far away),