Tag Archives | friendships

The Friendship Test: What’s Your Score?

Photo courtesy of Kiran Koduru

As I started thinking about Thanksgiving this week and all that I have to be thankful for, my family members naturally sit at the top of my list. However, my friends are a close second, and for many people, they tie for first. As we think about why we are thankful for the amazing friends we have, let’s take a moment to reverse it and think about what our friends want and need from us. After all, this Thanksgiving day, those same friends are going to be sitting around a table (maybe yours), thinking about why you  make their lives more enjoyable.

What makes you a good friend? Do you know? Take a look at this list of traits that people treasure most in their nearest and dearest companions, and see how you measure up :

  •  Trustworthiness – This personality trait covers a lot of bases and, when it comes to friendships, most people are looking for someone who will keep their secrets and keep their promises to be there when times are tough.
  •  The ability to forgive – Of course it is important that friends don’t do wrong to each other on purpose, but when you are friends to the end, you’ll be going through many life events together and mistakes are unavoidable. True friends forgive easily because they have a solid foundation based on a connection that goes beyond trying to be perfect. A good friend understands your faults and flaws and loves you anyway.
  • Self confidence - While this may not seem like a necessary component of being a good friend, a person with a high level of self-confidence is more likely to be giving, loving, and generally more fun to be around.
  • Reliability – If you’re showing up for your friends late all the time, you’re sending them a message loud and clear: Their time is less important than yours. Make the effort to be on time more often, and let your amigos know they’re worth it.
  • Willingness to give slack – Long-lasting friendships can span lifetimes if you treat them right. As we know, time brings struggles of all shapes and sizes. When your friend is facing something challenging and asks for a little slack – give it.
  • Going above and beyond - Friends will go to the limit and beyond when a friend is in need. Are you willing to go to extraordinary lengths to help, even if it inconveniences you greatly?
  • Taking one for the friendship – Sometimes you might be called on to take the fall – or the blame – in order to save a friend’s hide (or reputation.) Are you willing to put a friend’s reputation before yours in times when it might really make a difference?

Of course there are about a hundred other good qualities that lead to great friendships, like having things in common, having fun together, and having similar goals and aspirations. This Thanksgiving, let your friends have one more thing to be thankful for by making sure you ace the friendship test. If you don’t ace it, at least put forth the effort to make sure you consistently do the best you can. Your true friends will be willing to cut you some slack.

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How to Kick Life’s Buzzkills to the Curb

Photo courtesy of DaveAustria.com

Early in my third decade of life, I really started ‘coming into my own,’ as they say. In my twenties, I scoffed if someone suggested that I wouldn’t be fully self-aware and self-confident for another ten years. I thought I knew everything back then, but it’s true that a powerful shift begins right around the age of thirty. It’s mostly common sense, though, and can be chalked up to simply getting wiser with experience.

Regardless of the reason, as the years continue to fly by, my tolerance level for nonsense continues to drop. I believe the young people today would define my attitude as living “drama-free.”

I suppose the definition of ‘drama’ is different for everyone, but as we used to say in the 90s, it’s basically when someone puts a ‘major buzz kill’ on your mood.  Now that you are starting to find a direct path to being high on life, don’t let the following undesirable personality-types kill your mojo any longer:

  1.  The Cray Cray – This person is constantly full of wildly swinging emotions and usually has a dangerous potential for big blowouts. They may seem delusional and irrational.
  2.  The Negative Nancy – If you have a friend who is a constant whiner and always harps on the bad points of everything, maybe it’s time to tell them to cry a river somewhere else.
  3.  The Busybody - This is someone who appears to have no life of her own, giving her an excess amount of time to monitor and judge your every move.
  4.  The Emotional Drunk - All hell breaks loose when this person has one too many  drinks.  Sensibilities are lost right along with inhibitions, leading to ’dramatic’ professions, confessions, and sober tension the next day.
  5.  The Time Suck – Body language and social cues mean nothing to a time vampire. They show little consideration for anyone else’s time but their own, and if they get you cornered, or stuck on the phone, you can wave bye-bye to your productivity.
  6.  The Truthfully Challenged – Getting caught in a web of lies is what these people do religiously. For some, compulsive lying can be a very real mental disorder.
  7.  The Bitter Pill – Someone who’s perpetually in a bad mood due to what they consider a series of negative life events aimed at them personally can be a bit tough to swallow.
  8.  The Jealous Janet – They may display their envy in a variety of ways, like downplaying your successes, spreading rumors, or making snarky comments like, “Must be nice.”
  9.  The Braggart -With a constant need to impress, these name-droppers will never end up impressing anyone until they stop trying so hard.
  10.  The Absentee – Known in the 90s as a ‘flake’, this person often commits to things but doesn’t show up or follow through. This group also includes those who constantly ‘Tardy for the Party.”
  11.  The Close-Minded Fool- Completely unreceptive to new or different ideas and opinions, this person is very ‘un-fun’ to have a meaningful conversation with.
  12.  The Control Freak – Wanting to dominate every situation, a control freak will try to manipulate you until you relinquish all power in the relationship.
  13.  The Two-Face – Someone who expends all extra energy discussing the faults of others will not only have a negative effect on your mood, but is guaranteed to be talking behind your back, too.

Of course, nobody’s perfect, and maybe someone from the above list is on the same journey toward happiness that you are.  If that’s the case, they’ll be receptive to making changes in their behavior that are good for them and you.  Otherwise, it is most definitely time to move forward and ’kick them to the curb.’

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Should There be a Real Life ‘Unfriend’ Button?

Photo courtesy of Silly Lil’ Doe

One summer, while working in a mall boutique to make extra money, I met a girl who I thought might have real potential to become more than just a co-worker. I saw her a few times a week when we shared shifts, but not often enough to really get to know her.

The summer ended, along with my job, but our friendship continued. Soon she was visiting me often and calling me many times a day, leaving multiple voice mails on my phone. When I did spend time with her, the conversations were one-sided and I could never get a word in edge-wise. My frustration with her grew until one day I found myself ducking behind a display when I saw her at the grocery store. I realized I would be happy if I never saw her again.

Some friendships shift, fade, or simply turn out to be something you weren’t expecting. And now that we are all digitally connected via facebook and Twitter, ditching someone can be infinitely more difficult than it used to be.

So, can you get out of a friendship with someone who’s toxic or is just generally driving you crazy? And is it possible that your life would be drama-free if you could?

Actually, it’s quite likely that you’ll create more drama by carrying out some elaborate “break-up” plan with a friend. Unless things are really, dramatically awful (as in, this person is making your life completely, 100% miserable), you probably don’t need to sit them down and give them the ”We’re Not Friends” speech.  Although many of us probably have at least one or two people we fantasize about saying that to - in reality, it’s just not that simple, especially if you share friends who may feel forced to take sides. Also, once you say those words, they can’t be taken back, and you will have drawn a very distinct line in the sand.

That being said, continually exposing yourself to someone who really rubs you the wrong way can create a stumbling block on your path toward acknowledging your self-worth and value. Try to institute what author and psychologist Dr. Andrea Bonior calls “The Slow Fade.” In her book “The Friendship Fix: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Losing, and Keeping Up with Your Friends,” Dr. Bonior explains The Slow Fade as only seeing the person when you have to, in groups of friends. Begin to let all other contact with him or her fade into an acquaintance-type of friendship. Often this set-up is much easier to bear, even with the most agonizing of personalities. It can backfire, though, if your withdrawal only fuels your friend to seek you out with more determination. In that case, you may need to make a clean break.

Ultimately, you’ll have to do what feels right, based on the level of stress this petulant person is causing you, the number of friends you have in common, and his or her reaction to the new state of your friendship. While it might be easy to “ignore” someone’s online friendship request or “unfriend” your neighbor’s boyfriend’s cousin because her constant photo posts are clogging up your news feed, breaking up in real life really is hard to do.

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