What’s the Secret to Enduring Friendships?

by Kelly on March 15, 2009 · 19 comments

in Inspiration. Happiness. Self Improvement, Parenting. Relationships

enduring-friendship“The loneliest woman in the world is a woman without a close woman friend.”

- George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905-1906

I’ve been pondering friendship lately. Partly counting my blessings, partly marveling at how different all my friends are, and partly baffled as to why some people make me feel immediately comfortable, while others set me on edge.

I have been blessed with some phenomenal female friends in my life, and these relationships mean the world to me. I moved house and schools a lot as a kid and changed countries too, so I didn’t get to forge bonds which could continue with the years.

In highschool we finally settled in one location and at fourteen I made my first real best friend. The kind of best friend you hold onto for years. The kind of person who becomes a constant in your life. Someone that is part of the landscape of who you are.

GW and I are nothing alike. Seriously. I’m not sure you could get two people more different in many ways.

At times we have drifted from each other’s lives, seen each other less frequently, shared less secrets. But we always come back around again. We are like sisters. Sometimes I am sure we roll our eyes over the other’s shoulder and think “What are you going on about?” But our loyalty is absolute.

My relationship with GW is not the only enduring one I have. Almost all my closest friends have been with me for 15-20 years.

Our friendships have flourished in spite of distance, vastly different personalities, and changing relationships, careers, and motherhood.

Taking Time to Reconnect

Recently I went away for my annual Girls weekend with a few of these long time friends. The weekend away is our ritual - an opportunity to separate ourselves from partners and children, to reconnect as friends, to get back to the young women we once were.

We don’t do a hell of a lot when we’re away, so we don’t travel far. We stay somewhere relaxing near the water and we spend two days and nights basically talking, eating, watching DVDs and drinking. It’s heaven.

This year we added a beauty therapist to the mix and she came for the Saturday to pamper us and ensure everybody really did relax and leave the outside world behind for awhile.

I don’t know how women go about their lives without female friends. I don’t live in the pockets of my girlfriends - most are juggling families and busy careers and live at least an hour away from me - but when we see each other we slot into our own groove. Catching up on all the news, sharing our struggles and celebrating our wins.

We never have to go through an awkward settling in phase and there is little that we won’t discuss.  Our time together is easy, fluid, and over all too quickly. But this synergy is not something we can find with everyone.

two-friends

Friendships have a life of their own. They may be forged through common circumstance or interests, but they prevail because they meet other, more complex emotions and needs.

Recently, I wondered what distinguishes my closest friends from the other relationships I have, or have had, in my life. This is what I came up with.

My Secret to Great Friendships

Mutually supportive, emotionally rewarding relationships take time and you have to make them important. You have to value each other.

People don’t have great friendships by accident. They work on it.

And the older you get and the more responsibilities you have, the more you need to consciously make the time to nurture your friendships. Marriage and kids change things, but that sense of being there for each other doesn’t have to go away.

When I look over my friendships, there is one thread that they all share. The one thread I need above all else, and that is NO JUDGMENT.

I may not always behave in ways my friends will understand, nor make the choices they would for themselves, but in the end they all embrace me for my uniqueness and support me unconditionally. They know I’m a good person - albeit a flawed, emotional and at times over opinionated one.

I know my friends are special because I can be my entire quirky self with them, they listen patiently to my feminist rants, ignore my colorful language, and though some are definitely more outwardly “successful” than me, they would never think of themselves as superior because of it.

Real friends commiserate when times are bad and celebrate when times are good. They know when to let you go and when to reign you in. They forgive your petty foibles, understand when you retreat to deal with an over complicated life, and don’t say “I told you so” when you stuff up.

I love my friends because they are always there. Not around the corner, like maybe I wished. But in my heart. A phone call away. When I need them.

Do you value your friends and make time for them?

What qualities do you look for in a friend?

This post was inspired by the beautiful Trisha, a great friend and a loyal reader of my blog. Thanks for your open heart, willing ear and sage advice. x

Kelly

Flickr Photo1 by Alireza Teimoury

Flickr Photo2 by Greekadman

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Evelyn Lim 03.15.09 at 4:24 pm

What a beautiful post and dedicated to your friend! Indeed you are blessed! In recent years, I have developed interests in areas that many of my old friends cannot relate to. I am not sure if they can truly understand the new me. Well, going forward, I hope to attract more like-minded friends.

Evelyn Lim’s last blog post..My Personal Creed

2 Kelly 03.15.09 at 6:18 pm

@Evelyn
It is hard to continue on with old friendships when we change and take different paths. I have changed over the years and a lot of traveling from 26 - 31 probably put me out of sync with some of my friends, but motherhood has seemed to rebond us all again. It has given us a common link, been an opportunity for us all to practise non-judgment and support, and thankfully we have all grown from it. I am sure you will meet new friends who share your changing interests when the time is right. And in the mean time, you always have your online friends. :)

Kelly

3 Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach 03.15.09 at 8:06 pm

What a wonderful, heart-felt post - it reminded me of something I read back in the 80s, “A Friend is a Treasured Gift and You’re Never Too Old To Have More”. I’ll have to post that soon.

Thanks for sharing!!

Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach’s last blog post..Embracing Kettlebells (you know you want to!)

4 Jenny Mannion 03.15.09 at 10:23 pm

Hey Kel,
A beautiful post! Yes I think friendships are so very important. I have friends all over as well but when we get together it is like no time has passed. I think you list the very many important points of being a good friend. No judgment, celebrating the difference and successes, being there in all times not just being a fair-weather friend, it being a reciprocal relationship….

I have been lucky to have good female friends wherever I have gone. I appreciate females now more than I ever did. I do make time but always wish for more time with my girlfriends. I am trying to get a yearly get away together like yours because I know how easily time can slip away.

There is something so powerful about getting group of women together and I was so happy a local friend just began a monthly Wine tasting event (Women In Need of Entertainment) — LOVE that acronym!

I have been amazed over the last 2 years at the friendships I have formed online and am ready for the abundance so I can travel and meet you and the other beautiful and wonderful women from the blogasphere in person! :-)

Thanks Kel, I am definitely going to reach out and call some friends today after reading this! Lots of love, xo
Jenny

Jenny Mannion’s last blog post..My Personal Creed

5 Kelly 03.15.09 at 10:29 pm

@Barbara Ling
I agree, you’re never too old to make new friends. That’s a great quote.

@Jenny
WINE is great, on both levels! And bring on that abundance Jenny. Would love to have a girls night out with you. Do you like mojitos?

Kelly

6 Vered - MomGrind 03.16.09 at 4:14 am

It’s a lot like a romantic relationship. You do have to work at it; you have to accept the other person as they are and never try to change them. And, there has to be an underlying natural chemistry.

Vered - MomGrind’s last blog post..The Psychology of Advertising

7 Betsy Wuebker 03.16.09 at 4:18 am

Hi Kelly - The company of women friends is so necessary in life. I’m blessed to have two wonderful friends - our group of three was recently formed when I introduced another woman into a lengthier friendship I’ve had. The new dimension is fabulous. We all are about the same age, and have many things in common. These relationships ground us all in a way we can’t replicate with workplace friends. If we find ourselves without this dimension, life can seem empty and we seek to replace it.

Betsy Wuebker’s last blog post..A NEW WAY TO PLAY FOR LITTLE DAISY

8 BunnygotBlog 03.16.09 at 5:29 am

I have had my best childhood girl friend for 27 years .She and I are like sisters.She named her daughter after me. My other best friend I meant in college at one time we were inseparable. We have lived in 3 different cities but only once in the same house which was a couple of years ago.

Great friends love you unconditionally.
Cheers

BunnygotBlog’s last blog post..Productivity: Time And Change, Part Two

9 Trisha Roberts 03.16.09 at 8:05 am

Thanks Kel, you described our friendships perfectly (as always!) and we’re very lucky to have you too!! I’m already looking forward to next year’s girls weekend!

Trisha

10 Robin 03.16.09 at 3:31 pm

Hi Kelly - I’m a bit like Evelyn described (or my understanding of what she described) - I have changed a lot and needed to roll on to new pastures. So I have very few long-term friends. To me what stands out with the ones I have (none of whom live near me or are part of my day-to-day life) is a sense of loyalty. No matter what weird things go on, it makes no difference to the relationship in the long run.

And they are fun, on one level or another. See you Kel!

Robin’s last blog post..Making The Most Of Life

11 Donna 03.16.09 at 3:44 pm

Hi Kel,
with age I have come to realise how much my female friends mean to me. I absolutely adore my closest friends love our girly weekends away, movies nights etc.In fact once your children grow-up and leave home you have more time for these things and it is so good for the soul.
Connecting with these women that know me so well is fantastic. Over the years there have been many calls from us all for a shoulder an ear and come and take me away. And believe me the women have lasted longer than some husbands!

12 Kelly 03.16.09 at 8:18 pm

@Vered
I agree that close friendships have a lot in common with romantic relationships, right down to there being a certain ‘click’ factor when you meet some people, a sense almost of destiny.

@Betsy
I have had this trio founded from a duo too. GW introduced me to a friend she met through study after school, and the three of us formed a new dynamic that has lasted 17 years now. And you’re spot on that when we don’t have meaningful friendships our life definitely suffers.

Kelly

13 Kelly 03.16.09 at 8:21 pm

@BunnyGotBlog
Welcome to the SHE-POWER community. You are very lucky to have had a friend for so long, and especially one who would name their child after you. How lovely!

@Trisha
Me too, sweetie. Me too. xx

Kelly

14 Kelly 03.16.09 at 8:25 pm

@Robin
Yes, you need to be able to have fun with your friends and know you can trust them. I value loyalty a lot in all my relationships and I think if you have a real connection then distance really doesn’t change anything.

@Donna
It is special having some people know almost everything about you, isn’t it? I find it’s easy to hang onto who you were when you were young if you keep friends from that time. So much doesn’t need to be said, yet there is also so many great times to remember. Great seeing you all on the weekend. xx

Kelly

15 Marelisa 03.17.09 at 8:31 am

Hi Kelly: My sister is eleven months younger than I am and she’s my best female friend. Although I must say I’ve always had an easier time being friends with men than with women. Not sure why that is . . .That weekend outing with your friends sounds awesome :-)
Marelisa’s last blog post..The Elasticity of Time (Part 4)

16 Sami 03.17.09 at 4:27 pm

Hi Kelly,
Great post. Thanks. Having been through a divorce I neither wanted nor saw coming, the friends area of my life has changed somewhat over the last couple of years. A cliche but also the truth - it’s times like these you find out who your real friends are. The great thing about going through tough situations is the out pouring of love from those who really care about you. My close friends (and my family) really stepped up when I needed them the most. Gotta love girlfriends.

PS. I’ve subscribed to your RSS. I’m a fellow Aussie blogger and look forward to reading more of your posts.

Sami’s last blog post..Getting Online

17 Kelly 03.18.09 at 7:56 am

@Marelisa
You’re lucky to have a sister so close in age. That must have been wonderful growing up together so close in age. I used to have a lot of close male friends in my teens and twenties, but I found once I got married and they settled with long term partners most of these relationships seemed to peter out. I never understood why this was so - maybe it all just gets too hard with partners in the mix.

@Sami
Welcome to SHE-POWER, and thanks for subscribing. I’m sorry to hear about your divorce - definitely a time when you need your friends and family. I’m glad you had some special people there for you. It’s true that testing times do sort out real friends from the fair weather kind, and as painful as that is, it’s probably a good thing. Better to expend energy on those who are worthy of our love and support. Hope to see you back on the commend board again, and will come check out your blog. Always love to meet another Aussie blogger.

Kelly

18 Stacey / Create a Balance 03.21.09 at 12:23 pm

This is a beautiful post. I loved the words, the layout, and the message. The women in my life are the foundation of who I am. They range in age, heritage, location, and interests…and I love them all.

Stacey / Create a Balance’s last blog post..Authentic Happiness Series - Part One

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