Creating Sustainable Friendships
Do you remember the last time you got great news, and sharing the joyous moment with a friend made it more meaningful? Or when you were feeling blue, and the support a friend provided was all you needed to bounce back? How about the time you wanted to break from the stress of life and catch some fun, and your friend was the best person to turn to? Friendship is not just a connection we share with others; it is an essential need for navigating the ups and downs of life.
Friendship can take different forms, and they tend to evolve as your life’s journey unfolds. One common form is acquaintance, which is a friendship solely based on shared interests between people.
Acquaintances can be built on common identities such as occupation, membership to an organisation or a religious affiliation, shared hobbies, mutual contacts, and so on. Think of your gym buddy or work colleagues with whom you exchange pleasantries and ideas but do not share any relationship outside of specific settings. Acquaintances might seem to be a surface-level type of friendship but they are very important, because they help us gain new experiences and deepen our social network.
Like acquaintances, Casual friends do not share deep connections with you. However, they are more available and accessible. Casual friends help you have relaxed conversations and share good times. A good way to tell if someone is a casual friend is if you tend to hang around him or her only when you want to relax or enjoy an activity, but they are not typically privy to important aspects of your life. This friendship is useful because it allows you to discover new things about yourselves and expand your worldview. You might find yourself sharing your problems with a casual friend sometimes. Not to worry, this is because they lack the context of your life, are less judgmental, and offer fresh perspectives. Interestingly, some of your casual friends may even become close friends over time.
Another type of friendship is online or Internet friendships, which are connections you form with people on social media. Oftentimes, you never meet these people physically and might not know their real identities, but strangely, you can form deep bonds with them. This kind of friendship can be equally advantageous and risky because people can easily assume misleading identities online.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is childhood or old-time friendship, which are the bonds you formed while growing up with people in your neighbourhood or school. This friendship plays a key role in your formative years, in shaping your values and outlook on life. While it can be difficult to maintain because people grow apart and take different paths in life, childhood friendships can develop into lifelong friendships if sustained.
Lastly, intimate friendship is a significant type of friendship that is described in some religious texts as ‘a friend that is closer than a brother’. Your intimate or close friend would encourage openness in both good and bad times, allowing you to be your true self. These friends are confidants that love you unconditionally and provide honest feedback for growth. It should be stressed that close friendships are not necessarily conflict-free relationships. On the contrary, you and your close friends might disagree on many things, but you all usually come back to resolve your differences healthily.
Although friendships are widely recognised as a crucial aspect of human life, the demanding nature of modern life can make it difficult to maintain them. Nevertheless, there are valuable measures that you can take to sustain friendships.
The most important details in this text are that it is important to find people who share your interests and values if you want a friendship that thrives. This can be done by volunteering, attending events, and joining groups that support causes that you do.
Once you have met your ideal people, you need to be present and accessible, making time for each other and being there for each other when times get tough. It is also important to maintain a sense of self and set healthy boundaries in every relationship.
Communication is also important, and you should learn how to be open with your friends and express your feelings compassionately and constructively. As you grow with your friends, you will likely find differences in mannerism and approach to things that can cause discomfort.
Sustainable friendships involve developing emotional intelligence, actively contributing to the personal development and growth of your friends and adopting a mindset of grace and forgiveness.
To create sustainable friendships, it is important to offer empathy and understanding when your friends encounter difficulties, and to cultivate an environment of trust and support.
It is also important to exercise caution around individuals who repeatedly and deliberately cause you harm, as this can damage your emotional wellbeing and strain your friendship. Ultimately, having someone by your side to experience life makes the journey worthwhile.
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