The world runs on relationships. From personal happiness to foreign policy, it all comes 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 manage to understand and function with others is amazing! But how do you know if you really are a good friend?
If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s the value of a good, strong relationship. It has however been brought to my attention that despite my best efforts, I have failed a few times this year. That doesn’t make me a bad friend, more of a person who makes mistakes. From this reflection however, I have learned a valuable bit that I would like to share with you all.
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 romantic or platonic.
Listening these days can be exceptionally difficult due to the fact that you cannot read tone through text. Part of listening is overcoming communication problems.
It is a field of communication. Understanding comes from listening. This is extremely important because you won’t always understand what’s going on. But, if you understand your person, you will know what motivates her and you will be able to tell when something is important to her.
If you understand your person, it’s easier to respect them, and respect is a key part of any relationship.
There may come a time when you don’t understand the actions or words of someone you love. Maybe it’s a small disagreement, or they seem to be acting differently and you don’t seem to understand why, respect them enough to honor their space.
Now this doesn’t apply to bigger situations, obviously if you know they are in danger or need help in some way, do the right thing. But, in normal cases, if your friend feels like something is bothering them or keeping something to themselves, sometimes it’s best to let them tell you things at their own pace. Ask them if they’re okay, check they’re okay, but don’t insist.
Respect is mutual and something you earn over time. If you show your friend that you respect him, your friend will respect you back.
If you see respect becoming a one-way street, ask your person why they don’t reciprocate, it could just be a simple miscommunication. Although over time, if it becomes a habit, be sure to surround yourself with people who respect you.
Weigh your place in a situation. Whether it’s that disagreement or their behavior, see how much of a part you are. Since we can only see the world through our point of view, we sometimes get caught thinking that things concern us when they are not.
Self-assessment is definitely where I tend to struggle. I have control issues and it sometimes gets me in trouble. If you have self-assessment issues, a good practice is to take a step back. Breathe and don’t think too much. Learn to control yourself and avoid overanalyzing external situations. Over-analysis 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 their way out. Learn when it is appropriate to do these things.
Another part of self-assessment is taking a step back and asking yourself if you respect them and if they respect you. That’s a big part of trust and without trust you have nothing.
Apologies are important. It tells your person you are more important to me than this situation could ever be. When you say an apology, you should mean it. It can’t be empty words, you need to understand and feel sorry for what happened.
I owe my friend, who for privacy reasons I’ll call Sylvester (because who doesn’t love a Looney Tunes cat?) an apology. We have been friends for just over a year and since then he has become one of my closest friends. A little less than a month ago there was a situation that will not be defined, again for privacy reasons. I didn’t agree with that because I didn’t understand it and I thought it was all crazy.
Sylvester asked me to respect this situation and I told him I couldn’t. We haven’t spoken since. I miss my friend more than anything and over time I realized that I don’t need to figure it all out. I didn’t need to control the situation because at that moment it wasn’t really about me, so it wasn’t for me to control.
Also, I didn’t have to control the situation because I respect my friend and know him well enough to know he had a good reason for what was happening. Without needing to know every detail, I needed to respect him enough to honor his wishes, and I didn’t. I was caught up in myself that I couldn’t see that I had done something that affected him. I hope he stumbles upon it and knows that I’m so sorry for my part in this, and that it’s more important to me than it ever could be.
It wasn’t a big situation, nothing bad happened, it was a misunderstanding that I made bigger than it was. I just need to give him time and space, and I know he’ll come back eventually. I know this because our friendship is worth more than that and I believe in us.
If you ever find yourself in any situation, if you’re wrong, don’t be afraid to apologize. Know that it is their decision to accept or reject 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.
Obviously, that’s not the big key to every relationship, but I may have come up with something that can help you, and that’s the best I could wish to do. We are all human and we are everything do our best based on what we think is right.
The universe has a way of bringing people into your life for a reason. If you’re supposed to have someone they’ll come back, if they don’t they were never yours.