How to keep friends?

Girl friends holding hands.

You have finally found a friend, someone who understands you and does not judge you.

Then, all of a sudden, your friendship begins to slip away.

You try to salvage it, but to no avail.

A loyal friend is priceless. 

And losing one can be a painful experience.

You may feel similar distress if you have recently had a friendship go sour.

As young Patrick put it, “it feels like someone you love has died.”

But what if virtually every friendship you have ever had has ended in ruin?


Fragile friendships

Happy friends

The book Adolescence by Eastwood Atwater observes that teen friendships “tend to blow hot and cold, with sudden, dramatic changes and bitter feelings when friends break up.”

What makes teen friendships so fragile?

One reason is that as you get older, your feelings, viewpoints, goals, and interests begin to change.

You can find yourself surging ahead of—or lagging behind—your peers in some respects.

So when friends grow up, they sometimes grow apart—not because they are mad at each other, but because they develop different goals, interests, and values. 

It may even be best that a relationship end. 

As you get older and begin taking life matters more seriously, you may realize that some of your former friends were not a wholesome influence.

You care about them, but you don’t enjoy their company as you once did.


Things That Poison Friendships

Poison Friendships

What, though, if you are continually losing friends—relationships you would like to keep?

Frankly, it could mean that you have some personality flaws to overcome.

Jealousy, for example, poisons friendships.

Imagine that you have a friend who is wealthier, more gifted, more attractive, or more popular than you.

Do you resent the extra attention he or she might receive?

“I really envied my friend’s popularity and all the things he had that I didn’t have,” admits young Keenon, “and it affected our friendship.”

Possessiveness can be another destructive trait.

What if you learn that a friend is spending more and more time with others and less and less time with you?

One youth admitted: “I was jealous even if others talked with some of my friends.”

You may perceive your friend’s association with others as an act of betrayal.

Perfectionism can also spell death for a friendship.


Friendship—Getting or Giving?

Friends laughing together.

If jealousy, possessiveness, or perfectionism has strained your friendships, ask yourself, ‘What do I want from a friendship?’ 

Do you imagine that friendship involves having someone at your beck and call, a sort of servant to do your bidding?

Do you seek out friends for prestige, popularity, or gain?

Do you expect exclusive devotion from a friend, with little room for others in the relationship?

Then you need to adjust your view of friendship.

It is only natural to expect certain things from friends.

The book Understanding Relationships admits:

“We regularly expect a friend to be someone who is honest and open, shows affection, tells us his or her secrets and problems, gives us help when we need it, trusts us and is also . . . prepared to work through disagreements.” However, that is not the end of the matter. The book adds: “These are things that people expect a friend to do for them and expect to do for the friend in return.”

The real basis for friendship is self-sacrificing love!

When love is the foundation, a relationship can survive hassles and problems.

When problems arise

A friend making faces.

Imagine, for example, that your friend is endowed with more money, brains, or talent than you.

Unselfish love helps you to rejoice with your friend.

Or suppose your friend says or does something that hurts your feelings.

Does it mean your friendship is doomed?

Not necessarily. Don’t let matters fester.

Before jumping to conclusions or making angry accusations, get your friend’s side of the story.

Perhaps there has been some misunderstanding.

But what if your friend is actually guilty of showing poor judgment?

Remember that your friend is only human.

And all of us are guilty of saying and doing things that we later regret

Even so, you can openly express how much your friend’s actions have hurt you.

That might move your friend to make a sincere apology and perhaps you can put the incident behind you

But what if your friend is not spending as much time with you as before or as much as you would like?

Could it be that you have become overly possessive of your friend’s time and attention?

This can smother a relationship.

People in healthy relationships give each other a measure of space.

They allow plenty of room for the enjoyment of other people!

So when a friend does this, there’s no need to view him or her as disloyal.

Actually, it is not a good idea to become overly dependent on any one person anyway. 

It is wise to cultivate friendships with some outside your peer group, such as your parents, the elders, and other caring, responsible adults.

Lasting friendships can be enjoyed!

Yes, show kindness, compassion, integrity, and genuine concern for others, and you will always attract friends!

Granted, lasting friendships take work and determination.

But the rewards make them well worth the effort.

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