When we think of relationships we usually think of romantic love, monogamous or non-monogamous, whatever floats your boat.
But in reality we are in many different types of relationships with lots of different people. Friendships being a large portion of these relationships.
What I find interesting is that when it comes to romantic love relationships we often talk about terms, agreements, needs and expectations, well, hopefully anyway. But with friendships we usually don’t have these sorts of conversations. We kind of just plod along, hang out and don’t really talk about what it is we need from the relationship until something goes wrong.
I think this is how we end up in toxic friendships or even just friendships that are sort of mediocre. I personally believe when we settle for mediocre, in any aspect of our lives, we are saying that we are okay with only ever receiving this. The bar is set low and so it continues to attract things on this level.
So how do we consciously create epic friendships and connections with people in our lives?
Communication! People harp on about this ALL the time, but it is literally so important in any relationship and just in life in general.
This is also a great opportunity for growth in friendships that already exist have maybe become uncomfortable/draining or there is a feeling of weirdness that never gets spoken about.
Some really helpful things to get clear on when going into a friendship or clarifying existing friendships are:
What is it that I need in this friendship?
What do you need to feel supported, safe, loved and like someone is being a good friend to you? What is a non-negotiable need that you might have?
For me one of my most important needs is to trust that when a friend is triggered around something, that they will express what is going on for them. This then helps to avoid bottling up emotions and big explosions later down the track.
What are my expectations?
Do I consciously know what I am expecting of this person? Have I voiced these expectations? Are they reasonable? Am I okay if not all of these can be met?
What role does this person play in my life?
This is a really great one to look at, sometimes we expect people to play a whole bunch of roles when they are actually really good at just one or two. Maybe it’s a friend that you always have lots of fun with when you go out on the town, but when you try to hang out in a more intimate setting it doesn’t really work. Instead of judging them or the situation, we can appreciate them and see that they play a specific role and that that is okay.
What qualities/attributes draw me to this person?
When we spend time with people its usually because we like things about them! What do you like?
What do I receive from this relationship?
Why do I like spending time with this person? Is it life giving or life negating? How do I feel after spending time with this person?
All these questions are great to think about on your own but also important to communicate with your friends. A really nice way to do this is to set a friend date, get them to ponder these questions before your date and then come together and express what your friendship needs are. A really beautiful way to close this conversation is by reflecting all of the positive qualities you like about them and why it is that you want to be their friend!
We can receive so much love and intimacy from friendships, it does not have to be limited to romantic relationships. When we limit love to a small circle we miss out on unconditional and fulfilling heart opening experiences.
So go forth, set some friend dates and get super clear about what is you are co-creating in friendships. Friend love and appreciation is a real thing; community is so nourishing when we consciously create it.