Qualities I Look for in a Friend
A friend recently sent me this article on dismissing toxic relationships and it really struck a chord with me. Over the last few years, I have done some major assessments of my friendships and sadly, not all of them have made it through to the other side. I don’t often believe in extremes, so this is a tricky area because I don’t want to take the end of a friendship lightly but I also want to be sure that the people I surround myself with are helping me grow and are consistently acting as positive influencers on my life. I’ve also noticed an encouraging pattern: each time I cut ties with a negative person or contributor in my life, something positive or fortunate arrives, almost like I am creating room for good things by getting rid of the bad.
I like looking at my friendships from a positive perspective instead of a list of all of the things I don’t want in my life – this also helps me to remember that, just like me, everyone has rough days/weeks/months and it’s important to take people for the whole of who they are. After re-reading this list, I also realize these are basically the qualities I’m trying to cultivate in myself, so I guess that makes sense. Here are the qualities I have found to be non-negotiable when it comes to my long-term friendships –
- You are evolving. You are interested in learning more about yourself and the world around you and in growing as a person. You work hard to avoid becoming complacent or stagnant. You are a knowledge or experience seeker.
- You have a sense of humor. You love to laugh or to make others laugh and you are able to find the humor in most situations. You are occasionally sarcastic and always quick-witted. You know how to laugh at yourself and not take things personally.
- You are a positive person and try to be kind. You want your life to be as drama-free as possible. You try to avoid letting negative feelings or people take up energy or space in your life. You like making other people happy and having a positive impact on the world around you.
- You have creative ideas. As the old saying goes, “great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people.” I would rather spend time talking about what you’re thinking about and what’s inspiring you to take action than sit around gossiping about people we know.
- You are open – to new experiences/learning/traveling/whatever life brings you. This also probably means you are open to meeting different types of people and learning new things from them. You try not to be close-minded even and especially when your personal prejudices kick in.
- You put in some effort. Our relationship is not one-sided. I can depend on you to come through when you say you will. Even though we may not live near each other, we still make time for each other whether it’s to catch up on the phone, take a trip together, or visit one another.
- You have a sense of adventure. You are down to try new things and see new places. You like to change things up now and then.
- You know how to listen. You are not completely consumed by your own world and are genuinely interested in what’s going on in your friend’s lives.
- You are honest. I can trust your opinion because I know it comes from a good place and not a place of trying to tear other people down. You know when to speak up and when it’s better to wait for the right time.
- You are living a full, self-aware life and our relationship is just one piece of that. I am not your only friend, lifeline, or port in the storm. Our relationship enhances both of our lives but it is not the only thing we have to focus on.
- You take responsibility – for your actions, your relationships, and the reality you are creating around you. You are not interested in playing the victim or repeating unhealthy patterns.