Friends are great, and it will not hurt anyone to have them. They’re there for you for support, or for anytime you need each other’s company. It’s great to have one - and apparently, also beneficial to your health, as Suzanne Degges-White, chairwoman of the Department of Counseling and Higher Education at Northern Illinois University told CNN, "If you have one person you can talk to and be yourself with, that will give you all the health benefits that you had if you talk with 12 people every day.".
Friendships are two-way relationships - it’s give and take. So how can we be great (or better) friends to our own friends? CNN gave five points that we can take to the heart, all in the name of friendship:
Be authentic: This is hard for a lot of people, because in order to be yourself around someone, you have to trust others. "Be willing to engage in self-disclosure. If you can't bring your whole authentic self to a relationship, the relationship will be built on misleading false presentations," she said.
But you don't want to share too much right away. "Share just a little bit. Then the person will share a bit of themselves, too." It's a back and forth that needs to be balanced as you begin to build that trust.
Be reciprocal: Don't ask something of your friend that you would not do for them. "If you're not going to answer their call at 2 a.m., don't expect them to," Degges-White said.
Be consoling, but also celebrate wins: Being a good friend means being willing to celebrate when your friend wins the lottery. Some friends just love hearing when you're miserable, she says. Part of that is jealousy, of course. You want to be a friend people call when they're excited and things are going right.
Don't hoard your friends: Don't be afraid to introduce your friends to each other. It's a common problem. "They're scared other friends might become better friends with them." Many of us bring insecurity to relationships, which is tied up in feeling that we're not enough. We need to learn to love ourselves and get over it. Life is meant to be a party, Degges-White said.
Be OK with disagreement: Our friends don't have to think exactly like we think. It's how you deal with the disagreement that really matters. Be willing to talk about it when something is bothering you. "Don't let things go on too long." Degges-White suggests that we shouldn't be too hard on the people who are there for us and have proved that they are, time and again.
image credit: Francisco Restivo via wikimedia commons