Take Charge of Your Relationships – Friends

I can be a bit of a loner. I enjoy my own company. That being said, there are still times I want a friend to talk to or someone to hang out with. For many of you, friends are an integral part of your life, and you wouldn’t have it any other way. Then there are those who want those few confidantes or cluster of friends and yet are having trouble finding them. Perhaps you just moved to a new area. Perhaps you’ve been too busy to really nurture any friendships. Or perhaps you’re just really shy. No matter the reason, you can still meet new people and form lasting relationships.

Make New Friends
Meeting new friends can be much like meeting a new potential life partner. You want to find someone you “click” with, someone who shares some common interests while being different enough to keep things interesting. So where do you look? As with everything else, possibilities abound. You can check out the night scene. You can sign up for classes you’re interested in. You can go online and join forums and chat groups in topics that appeal to you. Talk to your neighbors. Join local organizations, such as the Junior Women’s Club or Kiwanis. Join a religious establishment and talk to the leaders there about social events.

Once you’ve found places to meet people, go. It can be very scary to put yourself out there, but sitting at home by yourself, too scared to talk to anybody, will ensure you remain by yourself. If you’re shy, start small. Chat with people online to build your confidence. Perhaps some of the forums and groups you chat in have local members. If you hit it off, arrange to meet for coffee. Once you’re comfortable with yourself and what you have to offer, expand your social circle to meet other people as well. Talk with others who share common interests. Participate in events that appeal to you and will give you the opportunity to meet others who share your passions. Give yourself the opportunity to connect with others who can be valuable additions to your life.

But Keep the Old
Relationships new and old need to be nurtured. It’s not just about meeting someone, chatting them up for a bit and then calling when you need something. Friendships, just like romantic relationships, are about give and take. Be the kind of friend you would want to have. Support your friends in their times of need. Lend an ear. Help with birthday parties, support their kids and offer to help them in a pinch. Be a comedian when he or she is down. Make chicken soup when he or she is sick.

Of course that doesn’t mean to let your friends’ lives consume your own. To be a worthwhile friend, you still need to be a worthwhile person. Nurture yourself, as well, so you still have something to offer yourself, your friends and the rest of the world. As I said, it’s about give and take. Just as you would help your friend in a time of need, look to your friends when you need help. Not only will your friend appreciate being needed, it will also strengthen your bond and help you get closer.

If you find that a “friend” is not the supportive, loving person that you need him or her to be, consider his or her role in your life. Is he or she just a friend you see or talk to occasionally, a peripheral member of your life? If so, then perhaps that’s OK. Not everyone will be a close, vital member of your circle of friends. Is he or she going through a difficult time right now? That’s OK, too. Cut him or her a little slack. There just may not be enough hours in the day at the moment for him or her to really be there for you. Offer support in the hope that once things get back on an even keel, your friend will be there for you, too. Is he or she the kind of person who will come to you only when they need something, borrow money without repaying it, constantly say they’re “too busy” when you need or want something? Then perhaps it’s time to cut your losses and look for friendship elsewhere. A friend that is just a drain on your mental and physical resources without any benefit to your life is simply not worth your time and effort. It may sound callous, but with billions of people in the world, why are you wasting your time with someone who makes your life worse?

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