Friends come and go in our lives, because of proximity or hurts or different seasons, or for so many other reasons. But when friends go just because we’ve had a set of rules that friends must follow in order to be friends, we need to rethink and reevaluate our rules. I know I’m learning this still…
Here are a few of the rules I’ve had over the years that are not fair when placing them on others, because everyone has different ideas and situations and life experiences that shape them into friends and how they behave:
Friends should call often – Who defines “often?” I’ve been disappointed before because friends don’t call or check in, at an interval I deem friendly. Having this expectation leads to disappointment from most people, and it doesn’t mean they’re not a good friend. No way. It means they aren’t like you.
Friends should know how to spell your name – I had a friend I’d known for decades and she STILL spelled my name with an “i” instead of a “y” and it made me so mad! How could she be a true friend and not know that? Many people don’t think when they write and there’s no evil intent or slam intended when they don’t recall spelling. We can let this one go…out the door.
Friends should reciprocate and invite you over or out – We love to go do things, and we love to invite others.
However, many, many people prefer to wait and be asked…simply because they don’t know what to do or where to go. And just because they don’t reciprocate doesn’t mean they’re not friendly. Now, if they don’t reciprocate because they don’t like us…well that’s another story altogether.
Friends should communicate well – Again, definitions. We have these parameters and rules of what good communication looks like. We look at ourselves and think we’re awesome communicators, and we place that mantel on our friends to be the same. If communication is our specialty, then we can find a kind way to ask them why they don’t communicate better and be satisfied with their answer.
Friends should not drop by without calling first – I was raised with this rule of etiquette so it stands to reason that everyone else should know that, right? Nope. And just because I think that’s proper doesn’t make it so. Friends that drop by aren’t rude. They’re friendly. And we can nicely say we’re busy, if that’s the case…or we can invite them in and enjoy their visit!
Friends should want to do fun things – This is a huge one for me! However, not all friends created equal are they? Just because I enjoy festivals and walks and movies and talks, other friends may consider a perfect evening just dining over a slow meal and nice conversation. And that’s it. And those are good friends, friends we need, when we’re always running.
Friends should be friends forever – I think that “forever” word is a can of worms. Friends move away or their family and even church dynamics morph; and they have to attend to new things that crowd out old habits or time spent. That’s not awful, or mean, or unfriendly. It’s life. And we can be happy when we see them and hug them, and remember the times when we were together. Still friends.
Friends should have kids that are my kids’ friends as well – This just doesn’t happen with each friend! Just because you love her and she loves you, does not mean that your daughters will be best friends! Don’t place that expectation on her! I learned this the hard way…
Friends should rejoice when you rejoice – This is great to have friends like this, and to be a friend who does this. But sometimes, life is hard and circumstances and losses make it hard to rejoice for others. That’s just reality, and it doesn’t mean they’re not a good friend when we win the lottery, and they aren’t so thrilled. Okay, that’s never happened…
Friends should be your rock in hard times - If friends are kind and considerate and giving in hard times, give thanks. But don’t look for them to be your rock. There’s only one rocking neighbor that doesn’t roll…and his name is not Jones.
What rules have you silently placed on your group of friends that to be looked at, and definitions that need to be redefined? Doing so might release some of the stress you’ve carried on your shoulders and in your hearts for years…