What makes a good friend and how much effort should really be put into maintaining a friendship? Should you put a conscious effort into a friendship or should it just come naturally?
Like most people, I have many different groups of friends. Some are from school, some are from work, some I made when I met my husband. Also like most people, there have been times when certain friends haven’t been putting the leg-work in and I have thought to myself, why is it always me making the effort here? For me, being a friend is taking a journey on a TWO way road. In these instances, I have sometimes refused to text or call them just to see how long it takes them before they realise that they haven’t heard from me in a while and make the effort themselves. This usually goes one of three ways – 1. I either get a text from them within a couple of weeks asking how I am and apologising for their lack of communication lately, 2. I get fed up of waiting for them to contact me and so give in and contact them first (again) or 3. I don’t hear from them at all and they eventually become relegated to an ‘acquaintance’. Number 3 means that I obviously didn’t value their friendship as much as I thought I did (and vice-versa), otherwise I would have reverted to option 2, or them to option 1.
So, what makes a good friend? Apart from the obvious ‘being there for one another’ and ‘a shoulder to cry on’ gumpth, I think it has a lot to do with joint effort. Making the effort to keep in each others lives – the odd text, tweet, email or phone call just to say hi and let the other friend know you’re thinking of them makes a big difference – my best friends are the ones who I share this frequent exchange with. These are the friends who I may not see each week but when I do see them, it’s like we only saw each other yesterday and it comes naturally.
I think effort should be made in maintaining a friendship, but it shouldn’t become a chore. As soon as you start texting a friend through obligation rather than a desire to do so, the friendship becomes strained. As long as there is mutual effort, maintaining a friendship isn’t hard work at all – it’s when it’s one-sided that it becomes a mission.
So to answer my initial questions: What makes a good friend? Joint effort in order to stay fresh in each others lives. How much effort should be put into maintaining it? Only as much as the other person. Should you put a conscious effort into a friendship or should it come naturally? Both – effort brings an easy friendship.
“I count myself in nothing else so happy
As in a soul rememb’ring my good friends.”
– William Shakespeare