Friendships are some of the most important relationships that we have and that we need to cultivate. Just like any romantic relationships and sometimes even more, friendships have a lot of influence on our well-being and help us find the support we need to face the difficulties in our daily lives.
But are you being the friend you want to have? Are you the friend you want to be? There are many habits we might adopt that can damage our relationships and ultimately hurt them to the point where we start losing them. Here are the main habits to let go to be a better friend and cultivate healthier, more supportive friendships.
The first damaging habit is that of judging. While we might feel justified in our judgments or even might be correct, thinking and expressing them is not a healthy part of the relationship. When we judge, we set ourselves above the other person and can reach negative conclusions. What is more, judgments often make us feel resentful when the other person does not agree or does not accept said judgment.
Judging is a habit that instills the sense of being better than, which is not productive for a healthy relationship. When we judge, we often ignore the context and the backstory, but tend to feel correct in our evaluations. Letting go of this habit in favor of a non-judgemental approach can do a lot to boost our friendships.
Getting defensive on feedback
A healthy friendship requires some unpleasant conversations. We need to be able to share with our friends when they do something wrong, and also be able to take this same feedback to heart and change. We can’t allow ourselves to get defensive if we hear that something is going wrong.
In a solid friendship, we must hear if we are doing something wrong. It’s not nice, but it can help us improve and makes the relationship stronger. When we get defensive, we are showing an unwillingness to engage with what the other person is saying. This can feel dismissive and add roadblocks to a healthy friendship. Instead, we should try to listen to what our friend is saying and see if we can do something about it.
Give time for the other person, avoid taking up all the space
A friendship, like every other relationship, needs a balance between giving and taking. It’s important to check how this balance is working for you and your friend. Give time for the other person to share and be, and see if you feel that the friendship is more inclined in someone’s favor.
Do not jump to conclusions in regards to the friendship. Offer everyone equal time and respect to consider things and to discuss them. A friendship is a relationship of equals, and this sets the tone for the relationship. You can find a friendship uniquely satisfying when you engage with the other person authentically and see them engage authentically and equally as well.
Don’t try to change your friend
Something that happens in all our relationships is the desire to change some things about the other person. We might feel that things would be great if our friend would just do X and Y instead of what they are doing now. But in practice, we can’t really force people to change.
There comes a point where we need to accept that the other person will not change some things about them. Either we go on with the friendship with this acceptance or we change the format of the friendship, but we can never force someone else to change elements about themselves. Of course, you do not have to put up with bad behavior from your friend, but you might also have to accept that they will never become, for instance, more punctual, and ask yourself if this relationship can work for you.
Giving friendships little time or effort
Friendships are important. While we might become caught up in our work or romantic partnerships, it is also necessary to put some effort in our friendships. We can’t always make them a priority, but we should not simply let them be, either. If these are relationships that matter, we need to show it in some way and give our friends time and space in our lives.
Avoid keeping secrets
We all have things we might not want to share. Not keeping secrets does not mean telling it all, but rather avoiding secrets about the relationship. If you feel frustrated or upset by something that happened, it’s important to discuss it calmly and in a mature manner.
However, you still need to talk about it. If you feel that something is going wrong, you should bring the topic up and not keep it to yourself until the resentment makes you blow up. This applies to the good elements of the relationship as well: you can be very open about what you love and like, how your friend has helped you and what they mean to you. All this helps nurture the relationship and deepen it as well.