Welcome to Day Five of Blogmas 2022!
In late November, myself, one of my best-friends – Sophie, and her almost-two-year-old daughter - Freya, visited the Northumberland Christmas Market, which was hosted by Linden Hall. We had the most amazing, lovely, hilarious time together, and that really caused me to reminisce about my friendship with Sophie – all sixteen years of it! And it is that, which has led to the inspiration for this blog post; a chat about the advice I’d give on maintaining friendships…
ü Something in common and something you disagree on
One thing I’ve learnt over the years of my mental health recovery, is that there is a heck of a lot of important things in life that really need balance in order for them to run right. And friendship is definitely one of these; and ensuring you have something in common so that you could about it all night and establishing something you disagree on, but which strengthens your relationship by remaining friend regardless of that, is a key example of this. I mean, it’s lovely to have a similar passion that you can relate to each other with and feel a level of kinship, understanding, and enthusiasm. However, it can be just as special and meaningful to know that you hold opposing opinions or beliefs on something, but that your friendship is so strong the disagreement can’t break it.
ü Respect for each other’s decisions in life
I had a friend once make a comment about how she’d gotten pregnant – besides obviously wanting a baby – but because she felt that at her age, she should… We’re the same age! So, her comment made things a little awkward, but we very quickly talked it through and established that we each live our own lives, have different experiences, and are therefore at different points in life – despite being the same age(!). And I think that showing respect and supporting a friend’s decisions (particularly where they can be potentially life-changing) can be so meaningful, encouraging, and strengthening. Having a friend show faith and confidence in your decisions, can be really helpful in spurring on your courage and bravery in facing situations where you have to make a big decision.
ü An equal amount of effort for maintaining contact/communication
One big decision a few of my best friends have made in recent years, has been moving house and (for a variety of reasons) deciding to live further away from their/our hometown. And I think it’s been one of those instances in life where you don’t realise how brilliant something is, until it’s gone… So, I didn’t really appreciate seeing my friends as often as I was, until now – now that they’re a decent train ride away! I, however, try to look at the distance as similar to a disagreement in that it can be seen as a challenge for the relationship and that, in managing and coping with it, things can – if anything – be strengthened. When it is established that you both have it – the energy and effort, the dedication and the passion and kindness, to still maintain contact with each other – there can be a sense of comfort and reassurance. As though, if you can keep your friendship through this distance, you can both take on a lot of challenges.
ü A trust and confidence that you will keep to your word or promise
I think that with the huge change social media and the internet have had on society, has massively contributed to a lot of people developing a lack of trust in so many others in their life now. I mean, two people could post the exact same thing on their social media account, yet they may have very different intentions or motivations for doing so. You could put two people in the exact same situation and one might choose to create an entire ‘thread’ on Twitter about it, and the other might not even want to talk about it publicly. It can lead you to questioning your trust in a person and this can result in the notion that a person may be disingenuous. That they might not be trustworthy or reliable in any way. And so, a useful element to maintaining a friendship can be ensuring that there’s a level of confidence when a promise is made, or an assurance given. Having such a comfort and reassurance that your friend will do exactly what they say they will, can really help you to feel completely open when talking to them – especially where it’s mental health related.
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