Maintaining Healthy Friendships in 2019
I have experienced the full spectrum of friendship, from kindness + genuine laughter to manipulation + lack of boundaries. The purpose of this post is to articulate what a healthy adult friendship might look like. Even though friendship plays no real part in surviving on this planet, humans were built for relationships. We want to fall in love, we wish for great relationships with our families, and we have bonds with people who have similar interests or live in similar locations.
With that being said, having friendships once you exit the college age can prove difficult. If you struggle with the social skills to create new friendships in adulthood, check out this article from the Huffington Post.
What are some key traits of healthy adult relationships?
Many of the friends we have in our late 20s and on have been around since we were young. In my opinion, honesty is the first characteristic of a healthy friendship (or relationship in general). We go through so many small interactions with our friends from - “Do you like this shirt?” to “Are you mad at me?” Trust is built when all questions, big or small, are answered with 100% honesty. Save the pleasantries and fake politeness for a coworker or acquaintance. Real friends tell the truth. As a matter of fact, good human beings tell the truth.
The final item I will discuss in healthy friendships is boundaries. Creating boundaries is a skill that can be developed at any age. Some folks had parents teach them how to do this, but many of us are left to figure this out on our own. Healthy boundaries looks like:
Saying no to plans when you aren’t up to it, with ease. If you are afraid to cancel plans or decline an invitation because a friend will overreact, the boundaries need work.
Checking in with your body around friends. How do they make you feel? Calm? Uncomfortable? Trust your feelings.
Not becoming someone’s therapist. Therapists get paid the big bucks for a reason. You are not a 24/7 hotline for your friends. Friends who are emotionally or physically needy should learn your boundaries. But to enforce boundaries, you need to create them.’
Creating boundaries is difficult, especially if you are a “yes” person. You might just have a bunch of people around you who enjoy using the resources you provide (without reciprocation). Whether that is your never ending listening ear, free rides around town or lunches that never get paid back. You must establish on paper or out loud to yourself - what things am I happily willing to deal with? When I do these things, do I receive reciprocation or do I feel used? Everyone is different, so the threshold of where boundaries lie will vary.
Have you ever given thought to the boundaries in your relationships? Share in the comments!