Learning to Be a Good Friend

Relationships

The world runs on relationships. From personal happiness to foreign policy, everything boils down to relationships. People are complex and more often than not, we humans can't even sort through our own heads, so the fact that we can manage to understand and function around other people, is amazing! But how do you know if you're actually being a good friend?

If 2020 has taught me anything, it's the value of a good and strong relationship. It has come to my attention though, that despite my best efforts, I have fallen short a few times this year. This doesn't make me a bad friend, rather a person who makes mistakes. From this reflection though, I have learned a valuable bit I would like to share with all of you.

Listening

We can never truly understand what is going on in someone else's head. We see the world through our eyes, so it's important to process another's through our ears. Listening is the key to any relationship whether it be romantic or platonic.

In this day and age, listening can be exceptionally hard due to the fact that you can't read tone through a text. Part of listening is working through miscommunications.

Understanding

This is an area of communication. Understanding comes from listening. This is incredibly important because you won't always understand what's going on. But, if you understand your person, you will know what drives them and you'll be able to tell when something is important to them.

If you understand your person, it's easier to respect them and respect is a key part of any relationship.

Respect

There may come a time when you don't understand the actions or words of someone you care about/love. Maybe this is a small disagreement, or they seem to be acting different and you can't seem to understand why, respect them enough to honor their space.

Now, this doesn't apply to larger situations obviously if you know that they're in danger or in someway need of help, do the right thing. But, in normal cases, if your friend seems like something is bothering them or like they're keeping something to themselves, sometimes it is best to let them tell you things in their own time. Ask if they're okay, check up on them, but don't pry.

Respect is mutual and something you earn over time. If you show your friend that you respect them, your friend will respect you in return.

If you see respect becoming a one-way street, ask your person why they aren't reciprocating, this could be a simple miscommunication. Although over time if this becomes a pattern, make sure you're surrounding yourself with people that respect you.

Self-Evaluation

Weigh your place in a situation. Whether it be that disagreement or them acting off, see how much of a part of it you are. Since we can only see the world through our perspective, sometimes we get caught up on thinking things are about us when they're not.

Self-evaluation is definitely where I tend to struggle. I have control issues and this gets me in trouble sometimes. If you have self-evaluation issues, a good practice is to take a step back. Breathe, and don't overthink things. Learn some self-control, and stay away from over analyzing external situations. Over-analyzing can lead to false conclusions.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is ask- yourself and/or your person. Other times the best thing you can do is give the situation some space and let things work themselves out. Learn when it's appropriate to do these things.

Another part of self-evaluation is stepping back and asking if you are respecting them and if they are respecting you. This is a large part of trust and without trust you have nothing.

Apology

Apologies are important. It tells your person you are more important to me than this situation ever could be. When you say an apology, you should mean it. It can't just be empty words, you need to understand and feel sorrow for what happened.

I owe my friend, who for reasons of privacy, I will call Sylvester (because who doesn't love a Looney Tunes cat?) an apology. We've been friends for a little over a year and in that time he became one of my closest friends. A little shy of a month ago there was a situation that will go undefined, again for privacy. I did not agree with this because I didn't understand it and I thought the whole thing was crazy.

Sylvester asked me to respect this situation and I told him I couldn't. We haven't talked since. I miss my friend more than anything and as time goes on I realized that I didn't need to understand it all. I didn't need to control the situation because at that point it wasn't really about me therefore not mine to control.

Moreover, I didn't have to control the situation because I respect my friend and I know him well enough to know he had a good reason for what was going on. Without needed to know every detail, I needed to respect him enough to honor his wishes, and I did not do that. I was caught up in myself that I didn't see that I did something that was affecting him. I hope he stumbles across this and knows that I am truly sorry for my part in this, and he is more important to me than this ever could be.

This wasn't a large situation, nothing bad happened, it was a misunderstanding that I made larger than it was. I just need to give him time and space, and I know eventually he'll come back around. I know this because our friendship is worth more than this and I believe in us.

If you ever find yourself in a situation no matter what it is, if you are in the wrong don't be afraid to apologize. Realize that it's their decision to accept or decline the apology. Give them time, and don't expect to be forgiven. Eventually, you will get an answer. The greatest friends have the greatest fights because they have the most to lose.

Closing Remarks

Obviously, this isn't the grand key to all relationships, but maybe I offered something that can help you, and that is the best I can wish to do. We are all human, and we are all doing our best based off of what we think is right.

The universe has a way of bringing people into your life for a reason. If you are meant to have someone, they will come back, if they don't they were never yours.

Did you enjoy reading Alicia Renee's article? Let your friends know by using any of the sharing options below.

Alicia Renee
10k+ pageviews

Alicia Renee is a junior in high school who wants to create in any way she can. She's highly active in the political and social justice community. Alicia likes to spend her time learning, writing, sewing, crafting, editing (photos, videos, essays, anything) and being around the people she loves.