How to find and be a friend. #relationships

The only way to have a friend is to be one. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson #quote

The only way to have a friend is to be one. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson #quote

The topic of friendship is swirling around my home like a caramel sauce twirled into brownie batter to make something called Death By Chocolate. Watching my teenagers build friendships re-energizes me to take the best of their example and look anew at my own friendships.  After talking with my kids, we agreed on three important factors that make friendships great.  

A good sense of humor makes us laugh, encourages banter, and lightens the darkest times.  My teenagers and their friends are hilarious together. As an adult, I may not appreciate practical jokes, making silly Vines, or watching Will Ferrell movies (except for ELF …and The Other Guys…OK, I’ll stop there), but I do love when friends share a joking spin on a tough situation, remember something funny from the past, or make parties enjoyable with their engagement.  It is all too easy to become grim as an adult and for friends to collude in misery. Don’t do it!  Friendships need to encourage happiness.

Generosity is next.  Maybe it’s because teenagers have more free time, more varied interests, or more fun money, but I envy their group effort to engage wholeheartedly in life together.  They put time into friendships when many adults have little left over after everyday obligations.  Together, teens obsess over their passions and grow their talents together; think garage bands.  And they spend money.  They take each other out to the movies (like those Will Ferrell movies previously mentioned) and buy each other burgers and make each other gifts.  When was the last time you took a friend out to lunch, or threw a party, or baked a cake for a friend? Do it! Friendships need to give.

Finally, there’s vulnerability.  My teens would call it trust.  I call it vulnerability because I’m older and life is more nuanced for me. Vulnerability is being able to trust someone enough to share your pain and fear truthfully.  It’s the ability to hear your friend’s pain and be with them in it. I caution my children that this level of trust takes time to prove true and reliable.  Take your time.

To decide if someone is your friend, ask yourself if they bring a lightness to the friendship?  Do they share generously with you?  Do they trust you, because you are trustworthy, to share their pain as well as help ease yours?  Be a friend by bringing fun, laughs, and joy to your friendship.  Give generously of your time, talents, and money.  As time shows the truth of a relationship, gradually be vulnerable with the few who have earned your trust.  Finding and being friends is worth it.

What are the most important factors in your friendships? Are there any areas you hope to improve? I would love to hear your stories and advice!

Your friend in the making,  ~~~~~~~~ Angie Mc 

35 thoughts on “How to find and be a friend. #relationships

    • Your generosity and humor will pay off in attracting new friends. The hard thing about relocating is the vulnerable and trust part. While we need that level of friendship to feel safe and loved, there are times when it isn’t as accessible. But it makes us more appreciative of deeper friendships, which is good. Plus, Michael is quite the friend 🙂

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  1. Much, to think about here, Angie! I am especially aware recently of the vulnerability part recently. That sounds like it is going to be negative, but I started reflecting that to be and have a true friend, you have to reveal yourself as you truly are. However, this is also a great gift. Being able to be open is a huge blessing and allows for so much richness. You can’t experience true friendship unless you do have that openness. It’s not like I’ve been hiding from my friends and loved ones my whole life but I feel like I am coming to a deeper understanding of the idea of relationship.

    Anyway, I like your list.

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    • Thank you so much for stopping by, Willa. I agree about the vulnerability part. I don’t want to burden my friends and I definitely don’t want to “lay it all out there.” I’ll be writing more on this topic as I process more and learn more. Your perspective, as always, means so much to me ❤

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  2. <>
    Acceptance and respect play a huge part in my friendships. all my friends are of different denominations (or none) this means we need to accept our differences, dialogue, and actively listen to answers. If we’re not certain we ask for clarification of definitions of what the other means and we focus on what we have in common.

    >>Humour>>
    I love those humour moments, the banter, often they tend to happen more when we are having our twice yearly parties, christmas and New Year with our whole families together. Get a few beers into our guys and they are humourous and we all play along. Have humour moments with just the ladies too, just not as continuously funny.

    <>
    when our children were younger we had more time to ‘hang together’ they were good years, now our time is shorter, but the bonds are there. and because time is shorter we tend to get straight to the point. A couple of friends have begun to occasionally get together for a coffee. all of my friends are older and so no more babies, I’m still having babies so a little harder for me, though with teen babysitters I can occasionally do this, I just don’t like to ask my teens too much

    <>
    for me this is a tough one. Once upon a time I blithely dived in and trusted, giving it my all. 6yrs ago my long time friend of ten yrs+ ‘dropped’ me like a hot potato over night. No explanations, no apparent reason. She was like a sister and the one friend I did have who shared my faith. This hurt terribly, as time emerged I realised it was not only I she was withdrawing from it was everyone, and I suspect she simply had a mini breakdown or something. But this has made me very, very leery of new friendships (which makes me upset to be like that as it’s not my natural mode) and I’m sure I have barriers up with other friends because of it too.

    <>
    (your question on 4Real)
    I have a close group of friends whom I met around 16yrs ago, some have been added since then. One thing we have in common is we all homeschool, and most of us are Christian, not all, we all(most) share an interest in natural health and nutrition. Most agree on issues such as vaccination etc. we differ on doctrinal issues but easily dialogue and respect our differences. I am blessed. One problem I do see though is parenting differences, the older our children become the more apparent the differences. when our children were younger we agreed to disagree and accept. But as they become older it becomes harder. I’m not talking differences such as social media, I will always ask a new friend if they don’t want their children playing the wii, playstation etc whilst visiting, what is their stance? Happy to respect those sorts of differences. I guess the biggest parenting difference I find is outlook on Self-identity (for want of a better way to describe it) Is the parent one for teaching their child to be independent, encouraging them to be an individual. Or are they not respectful of individuality but wanting their child to be part of a whole family unit without self identity. the children from the second family take far, far longer to mature, to leave home etc. and that’s where I notice the biggest strain.

    did warn you I could write an essay;)
    btw love your relationship with Devin, loving my relationship with my own adult daughter:) so precious.

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    • I’m back to share another thought, sick of me yet?
      When I was going through the worst of my “I’ve been so hurt and don’t want to risk more hurt by making new friends” one thought that kept recurring to me was, but what sort of modelling am I doing for my children. Children learn so much from friendships by watching their parents, if I didn’t model reaching out, acceptance, etc how could I expect my children to learn social skills. So that was what kept nudging me and finally six years later I’m ready to reach out and take risks again:)

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    • Erin, you are a dear! I can’t wait to spend some time with your replies tomorrow. I want to read them carefully and reply in kind 🙂

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    • I’m back 🙂 Erin, what strikes me most about your generous reply is two things. One is that we both share the desire and privilege of being friends with a variety of people…or should I say, many people who don’t live exactly as we do. These kinds of friendships are so important to me, to keep me honest, to challenge me, to learn from and to enjoy such wonderful variety. Where it can run into a challenge is the second thing. How vulnerable can we be with someone who has very differing values or lifestyles? If we share our deeper selves with someone who doesn’t understand our values, can that lead to hurt? There in lies the risk. I definitely have more questions than answers about this!

      And to parenting older children, I too, have seen that I’m more able to be friends with others who want to raise independent adults who we launch into the world. While, for selfish reasons, I would love to keep my kids home with me, I know I need to encourage them to live their lives, learn their lessons, and enjoy their time. We also need to find ways to stay connected adult – to -adult. Which actually dovetails nicely into this conversation. While we’ll always be parents to our children, I do hope that we can grow beautiful adult friendships as well ❤

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    • Thank you so very much, Anjana! I’m replying to you here and split-screened looking at your GORGEOUS blog! I’ll leave a message there too but just wanted to mention here that when I started my mothering career, like you as an “Electronics engineer by profession (fancy-shmancy, ahem!)” <- love that, I was a Public Administrator with 2 degrees under my belt. Like you, because of my husband's work move, I immersed myself into a new world of family life. Twenty years later, here I am 🙂 Have a great weekend and I look forward to enjoying your blog ❤

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  3. A really lovely post! I’m very lucky to remain close with many of the people I built friendships with in highschool. Sometimes when I think about it, I realize that some of us might not have sparked as friends had we met now, as adults, but having met during those vulnerable years, we are bonded for life!

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    • That’s just the best! My longest time friend is from junior high school. When we get together (we live on different coasts now) or talk on the phone it’s like we’re kids again. Special. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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    • Thanks for visiting Kesha & PJ! And I think we can have fun following each other 🙂 Your blog is full of vibrant family energy and your hard work and love definitely shine through. I’m glad I visited your blog as well!

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  4. Thoughtful, lovely post. I like that you dug in and chose some perhaps less-obvious qualities of friendship. I’m not certain I could define a friend, but I know one when I see one maybe. I was thinking recently too, of the value teenagers and young adults place on their friendships; some of that gets lost, as you suggest, and while I can see why in many cases it’s kind of a shame. Teenagers implicitly understand *how* to be friends – they generally share the same ideas about it – but adults must figure out how to have friendships, because their respective notions can be so very different.

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  5. Hi Angie Mac- what a fun topic and that photo is filled with pure joy 🙂

    and the one thing I have to chime in with is just that people need to remember that it is okay to not have compatibility with everyone. Friendships are often built on shared chemistry (and the other things noted here) and with maturity we can not get offended if we do not fit into certain circles or if it takes longer to build certain genuine friendships.

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    • Well said, Yvette! What has helped me most is to be happy for others. This sounds simple enough and it works. For example, if two of my friends can grab a cup of coffee together, I’m so happy for them! I don’t feel entitled to be with them. In other words, be happy…with or without me…and I’m happy for you!

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