Much like love, the definition of friendship varies from person to person. But most people would agree that they consider their friends to be people who are there when they need help or support. In the realm of friendship, these are the standards against which we judge others. But how critically are we judging ourselves when it comes to being a friend?
Based on personal awareness, I would say that I am not the easiest person to be friends with. I am too blunt for most people and depending on the day, I can come off straight up aggressive. I also loathe small talk; so befriending new people is very rare for me.
However, as someone who is very supportive and gives good advice, I've (surprisingly) acquired a few long-term friends. Over the years I've learned that just like any relationship, communication is very important in friendships. My friends and I talk about EVERYTHING! From how our bodies are changing as we age, to our fears and dreams for life. We've laughed together and boo-hoo cried together. Nonetheless, I am constantly making an effort to be more gentle in order to be considered a good friend.
I recently saw a social media post that defined being a good friend as someone who is there no matter what cycle your friend is stuck in. If they are in an on again off again relationship, a good friend is there to listen and support.
I wholeheartedly disagree. As a coach, I've realized that listening to the problems of others can be an emotional burden. And when you have a close personal relationship with the person, the weight doubles because you want to see them do well. Why would anyone do this to their friend?
As a friend, it is not healthy to constantly load all of your issues onto the shoulders of your encouraging friend. Especially if you are not going to take their advice.
I personally don't want to hear you complain about the same thing we talked about 2 weeks ago. Where is the progress? Furthermore, I hate to see my friends stuck in cycles. That makes me aggressive.
So, as someone who wants to show up with my best foot forward, I have established agreed upon boundaries with my friends when it comes to this.
Before the venting begins I ask if they would like advice or do they just need a listening ear.
If they want advice, I am only going to give it on this subject once. After that, I prefer not to talk about it again, because my delivery the second time usually isn't as gentle as it was the first time.
If this issue is going to affect their mood, I would prefer some space between us until it has been resolved. It's better to be distant than to ruin the friendship over an emotional response.