I've written here about good friendships, long-standing friendships, painful situations, far-away friends, and how sometimes friendship comes when we least expect it. But I haven't formulated any sort of list of "Ten Ways to Be a Good Friend" or "Five Surefire Ways to Make Friends When You Move A Lot." Because those lists might be helpful for some people, but not for others. And what works for me may not work for you. And sometimes it's really just a matter of chemistry or luck or whatever you want to call it. You won't make friends with everyone you meet, and you won't like everyone you meet, and really, that's just fine.
What I will do here is make a list of ways you can be a good friend to others, since the old adage my mom taught me still holds true: To have a friend, you have to be a friend.
Ways you can be a good friend:
- Introduce yourself when you're new.
- Ask questions. Lots of questions. Just don't be annoying with your questions or make her feel as if she's being interrogated for a crime or something.
- Listen to the answers in response to your questions.
- Try very hard to learn names. I am one of those people who is great with faces, but not always good with names. Thankfully, saying "I remember I met you at school/church/dance, but can you remind me your name?" usually works.
- Take an interest in your friend. If you know she's starting a new job, ask her how it's going. Or check up on her with medical stuff (since I'm past 40, medical stuff is now a thing with my generation. Sad but true.).
- Pray for your friend.
- Call her just to chat.
- Trust her. This comes with time, and do not apologize for not opening up right away. If she wants to know why you're reluctant to share, tell her. She'll understand and wait till you're ready to share (I have a friend who's a trained children's counselor, and when I told her I'd been hurt by other friends, she was very sympathetic and told me to take my time. That meant a lot.)
- Check up on her when her husband or significant other is out of town. Text or call.
- Write letters or send cards to far-away friends. This is really wonderful for the ones who have words of affirmation as their love language, but still awesome for everyone else.
- Show up. If she's having a bad day and lives close, bring her cookies or a coffee drink or even flowers. If she's far away, send her a silly text or call her to talk. If she can't talk right now, let her know you're there when she's ready.
- Don't monopolize the conversation. This is tough if it's your turn to have a crisis, but it's imperative not to do this too often. Then there will be a friendship imbalance.
- Don't forget her birthday. (I've had this happen, and it hurts. Try very hard not to do this.)
Sometimes being a good friend is very easy, while other times it isn't. Hopefully this list of suggestions will prompt you to make your own list, or evaluate how you can improve and/or strengthen your friendships.
To read the introductory post for this #write31days series, click here.