As many of you know, I am very passionate about friendship. I’m constantly reading books on the topic, searching the Bible for what it says about friendship, looking for ways to grow, and challenging friends to do the same. So much of the Bible focuses on making relationships, connecting with each other, carrying each others burdens, dealing with conflict, and truly loving each other.
Pursuing “real connections” beyond the surface in friendship is important to Christ and it’s important to me. We all desire to have strong, meaningful relationships, and there are certain qualities you can look for to help you gain a strong, meaningful friendship with others. I’m sharing with you the top 5 Qualities I look for when desiring that type of depth in friendship.
1. It’s a 2-Way Friendship.
This does not mean 50/50. That is just unrealistic. There are stages in life where one friend might be more of the initiator in conversation and getting together. However, you should still not feel like you are the ONLY one reaching out.
In the past, I had a few friendships and realized I was the only one putting in effort to grow the relationship. When I would stop contacting them, I wouldn’t hear from them at all. I even had a friendship in my life actually end that way. It was heartbreaking. I decided not to reach out, and see if they would still make an effort at the friendship. I never heard from that person again. It was really sad, but when I looked back everything about that friendship was completely 1-sided. I had to realize I allowed them to treat me that way constantly…so why did I think anything would be different when I needed them? The entire “friendship” revolved around them!
Having a 2-Way friendship also pertains to being open and honest about your life. If you are always dumping your heart out, and they never share anything about their own life, that’s not a good sign.
I currently know someone like this. When she asks me how I am, she wants me to share every detail about my life. However, when asked in return, I can usually expect a super short, vague, surface answer. In no way am I saying you can’t still have some form of a relationship with people like this. I’ve learned these are not the type of friendships I pursue when looking for a deep, meaningful friendship. Instead, they tend to cause a lot of hurt and resentful feelings.
2. They take off the mask.
I believe everyone has a “mask” they put on to the world. However friendships usually suffer when they overuse social media as a mask as an example. They display the family, marriage, life they want people to think they live. Everything is “fine” and they have no problems. Well, here is a PSA…EVERYONE HAS PROBLEMS, EVERY MARRIAGE, EVERY FAMILY, EVERY JOB, EVERY PERSON…EVERY SINGLE DAY. As long as the enemy is after our joy and peace, we will struggle every day on this Earth.
Yes, there is tons of beauty in every day. At the same time, that is usually not what we have difficulty sharing. Anyone can share their “Wins” with a stranger.
The hard stuff, difficult times….that is where true friendship is formed. The kind of friendship that heals your soul.
Finding a friend that opens up about their “real life” is worth holding onto. They are hard to come by. Many people are terrified of judgement, and sharing the knitty gritty of their lives. They put the “mask” on every day, even to their closest friends. Meanwhile they go home lonely every night with no one to talk to about their true struggles.
I definitely know a few people like this. At my age, I no longer have the energy to tear down the walls of perfection, ask 100 questions to get some real truth and meaning in our conversations. I have accepted this is the life they are choosing to live. I choose to strive for vulnerability and true belonging in my closest relationships. Vulnerability can be terrifying, but the benefits are outstanding, especially if you are feeling alone in this thing called “Life.”
Take the risk of going first, and share something “real” about your life, and see what happens. I tend to give people too many chances. It is my strength and weakness. If you are trying to constantly go deeper with someone who just wants to go surface.
Let them stay there.
Don’t stress yourself out trying to get them to change. It’s not worth it, believe me. Maybe they are still a nice friend in other ways, but that is not who you want in a close friendship. Other people are willing to go there, and looking to grow in real community with others. Seek those type of people out.
3. They cheer you on.
Blogging has taught me this more than ever, but whatever you are doing with your life, your closest friends should be your biggest cheerleaders. I literally look for ways to overly encourage my friends to dream, and go for it. I have friends going back to school, going for promotions, starting businesses, and homeschooling. They all need a cheerleader in their corner to say “I am so proud of you”, “You can do this!.”
I have only had a few friends over the years majorly struggle with jealously and it’s majorly affected our friendships. It’s hard to think how someone can really care about you, when every success you have they see as a threat to their own success in life. Comparison kills your joy and your relationships. I have friends in the past that have voiced struggling with those issues, and then pushed past it, and now cheer me on in every way!
Dealing with the internal battle some people carry around on a daily basis, is hard on any friendship, and someone is majorly getting the short end of the stick. I can honestly say that my closest friends at this stage in my life are my biggest cheerleaders, and they get more excited about my successes than I do. That’s true friendship, and something you should definitely look for in your closest friendships.
4. They appreciate your differences.
This is so important. There are some people who will try to mold you into what they want you to be. There are also other people who celebrate your differences. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean you don’t challenge a close friend when their behavior is offensive, rude, or harmful to your relationship. Real friends tell each other the truth in love.
I am talking about not needing everyone around you to be the same, and hold the same views on various topics. This is important.
Having friends who are different than me is both beneficial and gratifying. We can talk about serious topics, and we love to hear each others opinions. We aren’t intimidated by opinions that are different than ours, or see them as a threat to the relationship. We celebrate them. We appreciate diversity in every possible way, and don’t need to convince each other to see everything the way we do.
5. You have FUN together.
This seems self explanatory. However, I have definitely had some friendships where I had to ask myself “Do we actually have fun together?” Sometimes the answer is “No, not really.” Some people know how to let loose, be silly, and joke about embarrassing stuff that makes you both die of laughter. These are my people.
Some people only know how to be uptight all of the time, and FUN is just not a word you associate with them. These are not my people.
It is important to have the ability to take off your shoes, and have a blast together. When I am with my closest friends, I feel like we have fun whether we are just sitting on someone’s couch or enjoying a girls night out.
This life is too short to not search and pour your all into meaningful relationships. This is what Christ created us for…connection to other people. Relationships where we can truly be ourselves, and walk through the different stages of life together. It is so rewarding, and man, does it make life so much less stressful, and more enjoyable! When you find someone with these types of qualities, do your part to get to know them better, and pursue a lasting friendship with them! It will be a blessing to you both!
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For more articles on friendship, Check out “How to Tell When It’s Time to End a Friendship.”