There is a saying that we cannot choose our blood relatives, but we can choose our friends. This is very true. However, many find themselves in the predicament of not being happy with the people they have chosen to share life’s experiences. This is especially true of marriage. We choose a person and decide this is the person with whom we wish to combine our lives, home, finances, and even raise children.
When the marriage turns out to be less than satisfying, our minds can go toward severing that tie. Sometimes there are children involved and this makes the decision more difficult because they are blood relatives. For these reasons, when we do have the option of choosing the people to include in our lives such as our marital partner, we should choose wisely. For our choices say more about the people that we are, than the people we choose.
The Science of Friendship
Almost every day I hear friends, colleagues, Facebook acquaintances (some actual friends, I know in real time), and even my own daughter complain about how the people in their lives let them down. The only one who gets a pass in this line-up is my daughter. She is 17 and I am trying to teach her the art of choosing friends based upon quality vs. quantity.
Think about the person you refer to as your best friend. What are the qualities that a person possesses that has earned the title of Best Friend? Sometimes, people are considered our best friends based upon the length of time we know them in our lives. Sometimes, they are considered our best friends due to how they exemplify the characteristics of friendship.
Being a good friend does not mean never becoming angry, disappointed, or saddened by the other person in that friendship. However, being a good friend does mean being honest, fair, and loyal in our dealings with the other person in the friendship. The thing that must be realized is that when we are honest, it is not always positive.
Sometimes, we must tell the truth to a friend that at that moment could be painful, but should be told in the spirit of helping. When we are fair, we may not always show favor towards our friend. When we are loyal, while our true loyalty does lie with our friend, we may find that loyalty questioned when we exercise the friend traits of honesty and fairness.
Owning Our Friendships
How we react to our friends when they are honest and fair says more about our loyalty than theirs. When choosing people to share any aspect of our lives, we should want the friend who will tell us the unvarnished truth, and who will be fair in his or her dealings. That is the friend who will remain loyal to us. For no matter how ugly the truth may be, or how unfair circumstances may seem, he or she will remain steadfast in that role as a friend.
I challenge you to list out the names of three best friends. Create a three column, four row chart. Place each name at the beginning of each row, then in the fourth row your name. In each column, list the characteristics of honesty, fairness, and loyalty. In the spaces provided for each characteristic, describe a way in which that friend has exemplified that characteristic. Then in the columns beside your name, describe your reaction to each act.
By taking a realistic look at how our friends are friends, and how we reciprocate the friendship and the characteristics of that friendship, we can gain a better understanding of our own role in choosing and nurturing friendships and relationships. Good relationships do not just happen. They certainly do not come without complications. But, in order to have good friends, we must be a good friend, and who we choose says a great deal about what and who we think we deserve.
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