Thursday, May 5

3 Questions to Ask Ourselves About Friendship

Friendships with other women can be absolutely beautiful. But as we all know, they can be tricky little specimens too.

In my younger adult years, I used to slather myself across a wide expanse of friendships. It's in my extroverted nature to go deep and fast with new friends I believe can be trusted, so this habit has helped me make lots of friends through the years.

It's a great trait until you've overshared just after the first hello and things turn awkward. Or you've got too many people to keep up with, and you just want to make it stop.

As I creep closer to 40, I'm having to learn how to do friendship smarter. Maybe you want to do friendship smarter too.

I've begun asking myself some important questions to help gauge where I'm at and where my friend or potential friend is at, so we can all do this thing like grownups.

Is she interested in pursuing me? 

I'm allergic to pursuing friends who just aren't into it. I don't want to be annoying, but I also don't like not trying. Sometimes it's hard to tell: Is she not engaging much or at all because she does friendship differently than I would, needs me to reach out to her, or is she wishing I would go away and leave her alone?

I'm learning to watch and see, and not push myself onto someone I'm unsure about. Trying a little communication here and there, and see if she bites. Though often I wonder if I'm too much. Too chatty. Too willing to share. Too eager about them or even my own life.

The thing is, if the other person is interested in being in your life, they will find ways to put themselves in your life. They will call. They will text. They will engage on purpose, and if they live close by, they will seek out ways to be with you.

Sometimes that truth hurts. Because truly, the proof is in the reaching out and reciprocating. Does she? Will she? Can she? Am I speaking a solely extroverted language here? I dunno. Introverts help me out.

Are the rules the same regardless of our personalities?

What are my motives? 

Another cringe-worthy question. Why am I pursuing this friendship? Are my motives pure?

Do I simply enjoy her company and her ways with a desire to know and see more? Or am I motivated out of a selfish place?

What will friendship with her do for me? How will it make me appear to others? How can I get her to see how great and exciting I am?

If there's an angle behind our motives, we'd be wise to set this one aside for a time until we can pursue her with right intentions.

Am I being a good conversationalist? 

In any friendship new or seasoned, conversation is a key ingredient. To be a good conversationalist and to keep friendships growing, there has to be a balance of listening, acknowledging, and sharing.

We can't just be a good listener and acknowledger and grow a closer friendship.

We can't just share our stories and tell our news and grow a closer friendship.

To grow a closer friendship, both parties have to be willing to go both places. Listening and sharing. Sharing and listening.

There are times I have hung up the phone and nearly burst because the person on the other end of the line didn't ask a single thing about me or my life. I asked all the questions, and they were happy to answer with all their things. This has to go both ways.

Unless of course, you or your friend is in crisis, or it's just a quick informational phone call. But we should at least check-in, ask how our friend is doing, and listen like we mean it.

Friendship isn't just about us. We're to serve and build others up too. But in order for a relationship to go anywhere but the friendship graveyard, it cannot remain focused on just one person.

Point blank: if the person you're pursuing friendship with doesn't ever ask you questions, generally speaking, they aren't interested in furthering the relationship.

Or maybe they want to, but don't know how.

You can never grow closer to another human being if you are only telling your stories, relaying your news, and flinging all the things you've been dying to say at the other person. 

That's a one-sided relationship and your friend happens to like hearing themselves talk. 

I would know. I've been that friend.

Let's talk friendship. What challenges do you face in making new friends? In keeping friends? What kinds of questions do you ask yourself when it comes to friendship?