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MAINTAINING FRIENDSHIPS

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'" - C.S. Lewis

 

Relationships can be wonderful or awful. I have experienced both types.

 

I have always needed people in my life. I craved having friends and being a part of a group. From birth to seven, I lived in a neighborhood with no children and many senior citizens. I was lonely and learned to be content with socializing within my small family. One might think I would have displayed my extroverted tendencies when I was young, but I learned to be introverted.

 

There was a time when I had a very poor self-image and sought out acceptance. When I was young, most other children teased and shunned me. I was bullied by many, especially in junior high. Some children were nice to me, and I latched on to them. I became annoying, and they would stop hanging out with me.

 

I started developing meaningful friendships in high school. I attended a large church with a large youth group. I loved being a part of a group and made some friends. However, I continued to be awkward and needy.

 

As a young adult, I developed some healthy relationships, but due to challenging times, my life turned "dark," and many of my friends moved on to healthier relationships.

 

As an older adult, I have learned about myself and grown in many ways. I have much more self-confidence and maintain healthier relationships with others. As I grew, I learned to be a friend to others and not expect as much from them.

 

I am grateful to all my friends and those that pour themselves into me. I have become a person who listens, cares, and serves others appropriately.

 

I recently went on a weekend vacation with a friend from high school. It was a great time of talking and laughing with each other. We visited some of her family and celebrated New Year's together. I am blessed to have a group of friends that gather monthly for dinner. I am also fortunate to have friends I spend time with and enjoy. I have learned that friendship is give and take and worth the cost.

 

Be careful when developing friendships. Some friendships are unhealthy. I encourage you to know when to move away from the situation and protect yourself.

 

Remember, all relationships have issues, and it takes work to maintain them.

 

Maintaining healthy relationships, whether friendships, romantic, or family, requires effort and care. Here are some tips on how to maintain relationships:

 

1.     Communication: Effective communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship. Be open, honest, and transparent in your conversations. Listen actively to what the other person is saying and express your thoughts and feelings.

2.     Quality Time: Spend quality time together. Whether in person or through virtual means, try to be present and engaged when you're with the person you care about. Create shared experiences and memories.

3.     Respect: Respect each other's boundaries, opinions, and differences. Treat each other with kindness and consideration. Respect is essential for building trust and maintaining a strong connection.

4.     Trust: Trust is the backbone of any relationship. Keep your promises and be reliable. Work together to rebuild trust through open communication and consistency if trust is broken.

5.     Empathy: Try to understand the other person's perspective and emotions. Show empathy and support when they are going through challenges or difficult times. Validate their feelings.

6.     Conflict Resolution: Conflicts are natural in any relationship. Learn how to resolve conflicts in a healthy way. Avoid blaming, listen to each other, and seek compromise. Remember, it's okay to agree to disagree on certain issues.

7.     Appreciation and Gratitude: Express appreciation and gratitude for the people in your life. Let them know you value and cherish them. Small gestures of kindness can go a long way in maintaining a relationship.

8.     Space and Independence: While spending time together is essential, respecting each other's need for personal space and independence is also crucial. Healthy relationships allow room for individual growth.

9.     Forgiveness: No one is perfect, and mistakes happen. Learn to forgive and move forward. Holding onto grudges can erode a relationship over time.

10.  Shared Goals and Interests: Find common interests and goals you can pursue together. These shared activities can strengthen your bond and create opportunities for connection.

11.  Adaptability: Recognize that people change over time. Be willing to adapt and grow together as individuals and as a couple or group.

12.  Support: Offer support and encouragement to your loved ones in their pursuits and endeavors. Being there for each other during both good and challenging times is essential.

13.  Celebrate Achievements: Celebrate each other's achievements, no matter how small. Acknowledging successes and milestones can boost morale and strengthen your connection.

14.  Apologize When Necessary: If you make a mistake or hurt someone, don't hesitate to apologize sincerely. Taking responsibility for your actions and making amends is a sign of maturity and respect.

15.  Seek Professional Help if Needed: If a relationship is facing serious issues that you can't resolve on your own, consider seeking the help of a therapist or counselor. Professional guidance can be invaluable in certain situations.

 

Remember that every relationship is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Tailoring these tips to your specific circumstances and the relationship dynamics is important.

 

Cherish your friendships!

Have a good week!



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