How To Be An Amazing Friend In (Almost) Any Situation
No one ever graduated college with a degree in friendship. Being a friend is skill set you learn through trial and error, following your instincts, and observing others. But I truly believe everyone has the ability to be a good friend if they honestly desire to do so.
Friendship is rad when both parties are happy and everyone’s having a grand ole time — that’s when being a friend is a cake walk. The problematic aspects of friendship tend to show their face when circumstances aren’t so hunky dory. If you’ve landed yourself a true friend, chances are you are going to weather some storms together. But the way you show up for your friend can make all the difference in how you both come out on the other side.
When you are a thoughtful and loving friend, you’ll find you benefit from these acts of friendly love just as much as your pal. Generously offering part of yourself to someone you care about strengthens your bond, helps you learn about yourself, and equips you to handle life with more grace and confidence.
No matter what your friendships bring, here are some ideas for keeping your friendship game top shelf no matter the circumstances.
Relationship problems are a lot like the Spaghetti Model meteorologists use for possible hurricane paths: the storms could go in a handful of different directions, pick-up speed, or suddenly loose momentum and die down. No matter which course your friend’s relationship takes, there are a few hard and fast rules you must adhere to when being there as a supportive sidekick.
Never bad mouth their partner.
Even if this person has done terrible, horrible things, avoid tossing in your two cent observation that your friend’s other half has always been a world class D Bag. Do not utter a judgmental word about the character of their bae, because if these two mend their fences, your friend will remember all the trash you talked. This issue could resurface later when she wonders if you judge her for staying with a D Bag and put a strain on your friendship.
Validate her feelings.
Just because you aren’t sharing your deep held thoughts about your friend’s partner doesn’t mean you’re condoning her being treated poorly. Without throwing shade at her significant other, you can 100 percent validate how she is feeling and remind her that she deserves to be treated with respect, love, and support.
Be more available then you think you can.
When a friend is walking a tough road in a relationship, try to be available to her as much as possible (at least in the beginning). Relationships are a foundational element of who you are, and when the most intimate relationships are threatened it causes a shift in your sense of safety, security, and the familiar. Be a safe, secure, and familiar place for your friend until she has moved through this initial shift.
Loss Of A Loved One
Experiencing loss can be one of the messiest parts of the human experience and a grieving friend is your cue to run — not walk — to their side. This can look so many different ways depending on how close you are with this friend and how you process death and dying. While many people bring food, company, and emotional support (which is crucial) try to think of other ways you can be present and of service to your friend in this fragile time.
Can you help her find and sort through necessary paperwork? Connect her with appropriate services such as legal advice? Maybe you hire a cleaning service to come to her house so there will be fresh sheets on every bed and full rolls of TP in each bathroom. Or you can drive her to appointments and meetings that she must attend. These type of tasks don’t require much emotional heavy lifting but let your friend know that you’re in this by her side.
Lifting one another up is a key component to a full life. It connects you to others and reminds you that there is an abundance of success, happiness, and fulfillment available to all. When your friend has a big win in her life, celebrate! Take her out to dinner, send her flowers, share her new business with all your friends, treat her to a pedicure, or buy her something shiny to commemorate her awesomeness.
Honestly, it doesn’t really matter what you do, the important thing is the acknowledgement of her reaching a milestone or goal that means something to her.
Different phases of life can lead to the question, “Who am I and what am I doing with my life?” and sticking by a friend as she expands and discovers new ways of being in this world allows you to be close to a sacred part of her becoming who she was meant to be.
Sometimes, you might not like it when people change because you worry that it will also change the dynamic between the two of you. However, if your friendship is based on what is true and meaningful, then you have little to worry about. When someone close to you experiences personal growth, it doesn’t mean they’re leaving you behind. In fact, they need you more than ever to process the changes they’re experiencing. Be a listening ear in this season. Suspend your judgment and encourage her to bloom all the way open.
Moving, starting a new job, kids leaving for college, divorce — these are all transitions when having a ride or die by your side helps keep your head above water. You can be that life jacket for your friend when she is experiencing any of life’s transitions.
To be the most supportive in these times, don’t just listen, pay attention. Look deep into what your friend is feeling and answer back with something that meets an emotional need. For example, say your friend is starting a new job after staying home with the kids for years and has told you she’s worried about how her family will function with her spending less time on household responsibilities. In this case, you can give her a gift card to a meal service so she can spend time with her family instead of worrying about dinner her first week on the job.
When you intentionally tap into what is causing your friend to be concerned or anxious in times of transition, you’ll be able to come up with a solution that meets a specific emotional need for her.
Friendship is one of life’s most satisfying gifts. And if you treat it that way, you’ll always know how to be an amazing friend in (almost) any situation.