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“Ultimately, the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation.” - Oscar Wilde.

Relationships can be wonderful and challenging. No matter what kind of relationship you are in, there is conflict. Today, I am addressing relationships but am focusing on friendships and how to nurture them.

There are various types of relationships. Below are several categories of relationships.

Familial Relationships: Parents, children, grandparents, cousins, and sisters and brothers.

Romantic Relationships: Connections based on romantic love and intimate partnerships.

Friendships: Bonds based on mutual affection and camaraderie.

Professional Relationships: Connections based on work, business, or shared professional goals.

Casual Relationships: Connections that are less about personal intimacy and more about shared activities or interests.

Platonic Relationships: Close, affectionate relationships not based on romantic love.

Online/Digital Relationships: Relationships maintained primarily or solely through digital means.

Spiritual/Religious Relationships: Bonds formed based on shared spiritual or religious beliefs.

Adversarial Relationships: Connections that involve competition, rivalry, or conflict.

Relationships come with their own characteristics and expectations. Relationships can evolve as they grow. I now have friends who started as coworkers, strangers at church, and people I have met in the community.

Some relationships are closer than others, yet you can find satisfaction in all of them. I enjoy going shopping with acquaintances. I cherish the time of meeting for coffee and sharing life’s ups and downs intimately with a close friend.

What do I find important in a relationship?

Trust: Trust is foundational.

Communication: Open and honest communication helps clear up any issues.

Loyalty: A loyal friend stands by your side, even during challenging times.

Mutual Respect: Friends disagree, and they should respect each other's opinions, decisions, boundaries, and individuality, even when they disagree.

Understanding: Understanding gives the relationship a sense of support.

Time: Spending quality time together is essential.

Reciprocity: Balance in a friendship. It could be considered “tit for tat.”

Acceptance: True friends accept each other, flaws and all, without constantly passing judgment or trying to change the other person.

Support: Whether emotional, mental, or occasionally even financial, offering support when a friend is in need is crucial.

Forgiveness: Everyone makes mistakes. The ability to apologize and forgive (and to move past conflicts) is vital for long-term friendship health.

Maintaining a viable relationship takes time and effort. I recently hurt a good friend’s feelings. I apologized but have not been forgiven. I know she is hurt. I am also hurt because I believe we were close enough to resolve the issue and maintain a relationship. I was wrong. I am praying that in the future, we can rectify our friendship.

When I was young, I found it challenging to make friends. I was shy, had no social skills, talked too much, and was extremely awkward. Other children would play with me during recess, but I soon found other kids to interact with. I was lonely, and my poor self-image grew stronger.

What happened? I learned to listen, put other’s needs first, and put myself in situations where I would learn to interact with others appropriately.

How can you develop lasting personal friendships? Developing lasting personal friendships requires effort, understanding, and consistency.

Here are 10 ways to cultivate and maintain such relationships:

Regular Communication: Check in on your friends regularly, whether through a simple text, a phone call, or meeting up.

Active Listening: When a friend speaks, listen intently. Show genuine interest in what they're saying, ask questions, and avoid interrupting or making it about yourself.

Shared Experiences: Engage in activities together.

Trustworthiness: Be reliable. If you promise something, follow through. Be someone your friends can trust with secrets, confidences, and commitments.

Openness and Honesty: Be genuine and transparent with your feelings, concerns, and thoughts.

Empathy and Support: Be there for your friend during tough times.

Celebrate Milestones: Acknowledge and celebrate your friends' achievements, birthdays, and milestones. It shows that you're paying attention and value their happiness and success.

Establish and Respect Boundaries: Everyone has their limits. Recognize and respect these boundaries, ensuring neither party feels overwhelmed nor exploited.

Conflict Resolution: Disagreements are natural in any relationship. Address issues head-on with understanding and patience.

Reciprocity: While friendships shouldn't be transactional, mutual effort is crucial. Both parties should contribute to the relationship, ensuring it doesn't feel one-sided.

Remember, like any relationship, friendships need nurturing and effort. With mutual respect and understanding, friendships can grow and become a lasting and meaningful part of one's life.

Have a great week.

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