Over the years we amass a following of people that come in and out of our lives. Some are only there for a fleeting moment and others for one reason or another manage to stay a lifetime. How we invest in, nurture and grow those relationships ultimately determines exactly what kind of relationship they will become. It also determines the longevity.
In a previous post, I wrote that I have a handful of good friends that have been part of my life for over 20 years. They are some of most dearest people in the world to me and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. However, there was a period in time where I had to sit down and ask myself what I was expecting from those relationships and was it realistic? When I truly focused on my expectations and did some self-reflection, I realized that some of the issues I was having were actually being caused by me.
When I give myself to a true friendship I am all in. I am caring, compassionate, generous and make myself readily available, sometimes to a fault. Where we sometimes get into trouble is when we expect those that receive our affection to be exactly like us. When they aren’t exactly like us we feel let down, when in reality it has nothing to do with them at all. All of my friends have those same traits I mentioned above in varying degrees, which is what makes them special and an important part of my life. Internal conflict occurs when we expect all of them to have the exact same traits that we might have, which is ultimately unrealistic and unfair.
When I truly started to focus on this and tamper those expectations, I realized that each and every one of my close friends fills a different need in my life that completes me and makes me whole. Where one may be stronger in compassion, the other is incredibly generous. Where one may be always available, the others make quality time extra meaningful. We sometimes forget that they have their own lives, their own friends and their own needs. While we would like to be the center of their world, expecting that to be so is completely unrealistic.
The more I thought about it, expecting everyone to be exactly like us ultimately makes it a very boring world. Diversity in friendship and the contributions that each provide gives us the nourishment we need to make our lives complete. I haven’t perfected it yet and it is a continuous work in progress. However, recognizing the issue and focusing on it has helped me create better, healthier relationships without setting expectations that are doomed to fail. In the end, we don’t want our friends to be exactly like us. Accepting them for who they are and recognizing the unique contributions they bring to the relationship creates the foundation for strong lasting friendships.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.