Thursday, July 22, 2010

Friendships Among Women - Maintaining Friendships

Maintaining Friendships

Once the initial trust is felt between two women, the friendship can progress to the next stage, and that is working to maintain the friendship. In today’s hectic lifestyle, it seems that friendships of women are often placed to the wayside because of career, family or other pressing responsibilities. But what many women fail to acknowledge is that a friendship can help you get through life, causing a reduction in the amount of stress you feel on a daily basis, as we talked about a few posts ago.

Aside from the scientific reasons behind friendships of women, building and maintaining friendships is accomplished because both parties choose to work at the relationship. Much like a relationship with your spouse, friendships need the some of the same nurturing to survive. This can be easily accomplished by meeting for lunch or coffee once a month or a phone call. Maintaining a sense of connection can even be achieved in most cases through email, facebook and an occasional card sent in the mail. The main thing is to give that call or message when you know that friend is going through a struggle or has a special event in their lives. These are the practical things to do but what about the emotional parts?

Here are some suggestions

1. Be Flexible

A pastor offered this advice. He said, "Expect nothing from other people." This may seem like a strange idea. It seems that if you expected nothing, you would get what you expected. But the fact is that while we do need to set reasonable goals for our self, we will do well to keep our expectations for others modest. If we can break free from high expectations for others, than we are more likely to be able to accept — and enjoy — them as they are.

Perhaps the quickest way to kill a new friendship is to expect — or demand — too much. We women have a tendency toward expectations and when we let go of them whether with our husbands or friends we will be happier people and better friends. If you can lower your expectations, not only are you likely to reduce your own frustration, but you might be able to better see the other person's gifts, which may be much different than our own. Sometimes our own expectations blind us to the gift before us. We become so focused on what we want — or what we imagine we need — that we miss what the other person has to offer. We sometimes expect our friends to think and react like us but that is what makes friendships so fun - learning different ways of doing things and a different perspective from someone we love and trust but may be very different than us.

Often things are more than they appear at first glance — and it is often this way with relationships. If you can take a step back and allow a friendship to unfold on its own terms, you may be pleasantly surprised.

2. Enjoy Your Differences and be Transparent

It becomes more possible to weather another person's shortcomings when you're able to see their strengths. We can tell that a friendship is growing when we begin to genuinely enjoy another person's gifts — not feel threatened or envious of them.

Why do some people provoke envy while others — even extremely talented people — don't. It might have something to do with transparency. The more deeply we know another person's secret hopes and struggles — and the more we can identify with them— we are less likely to envy them, the more we want to see them succeed.

As we get closer to people the less inclined we are to jump to simple conclusions about their life and struggles (or how we might fix them). And the more open another person is with us, the more clearly we can see the truth of Plato's saying, "Be kind to everyone you meet, for everyone is waging a terrible internal battle."

3. Always Growing
Friendships do not say the same. They change and grow as we do — The twists and turns of life keep friendship fresh, even as the years wear on.

Some of our deepest friendships offer a sense of continual discovery and newness, but they can also provide a sense of consistency during years of change. When we are around long term, established friends — those who know our history, faults and failings and love us anyway — we feel safe and secure. And this is what friends do best — they see us, fragile and fault filled as we are, and yet they see the good in us and the hope that is ours whatever our situation.

Proverbs17:17 NIV
"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."


Melanie said...

I am really enjoying this series on friendship.I am going to link your series on my blog today.

CoachK said...

Thanks Melanie for stopping by and for sharing this on your blog. I think friendship with other women is one of the top needs we women have and it many times is neglected because of busyness. I'll be checking you blog out!