Lessons in Healthy Friendships
When we have conversations about health and wellness, we oftentimes focus on the self more than anything else: self-esteem, self-love, self-empowerment, self-care, etcetera. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it is also important to remember that humans are relational beings. A lot of how and what we feel about ourselves, whether we like it or not, can be reflected in our interactions with others.
This is why I think it is so important to have healthy and constructive friendships. It is especially important in a university environment where so many changes and new stresses can occur. There’s nothing more comforting than having people in your life who can comfort you in difficult situations because they can relate as well.
However, this makes it equally as important to know when a friendship is unhealthy. Lately, I’ve felt like the use of the word “toxic person” has become way too common. It’s not always wrong to recognize and realize that someone might not be a person who is good for you. Nevertheless, I still feel as though we do not focus on the positive people in our lives enough. Throughout my years at Glendon, I’ve met people who have shown me what true healthy friendships look like. Not only that, but these people have also taught me how to be a better friend.
I thought I’d share three lessons I’ve learned in my three years at Glendon on how to sustain healthy friendships that have helped me, and will hopefully help you as well.
#1 - Perfection in any type of relationship is unattainable, outdated, and boring. There is no such thing as a perfect person, which means there is no such thing as a perfect friend. Labeling someone as “toxic” after they mess up once is doing a disservice to everyone involved in the situation. Friendships are about growth and communication as much as any other relationship. Be willing to talk when something bothers you instead of acting out of hurt and anger. Friends that learn how to fight in a healthy way are friends that fight for each other.
#2 - Some people just want to be there for you—full stop. It’s unhealthy to constantly ask yourself about someone’s motives in your life. There comes a point where you’ll realize that, despite the fact that not everyone is like this. There are people that exist who truly want what’s best for you simply because they care about you. Don’t spend too much time analyzing their every move; just try to be a genuine friend to them as well.
#3 - It’s okay to lean on your friends when you’re going through a rough time. I know this sounds simple, but I believe many people have a hard time actually practicing this in their lives. It’s unrealistic and unhealthy to believe that you never need support or even just someone to listen. There are people out there who will offer you help even when you don’t know how to ask.
Good friendships are not always easy to come by, but they are part of living a healthy and well-balanced life. It’s important to not let fear keep you from trying to make connections. I realize it can be scary to allow yourself to step out of your comfort zone, but in the long run, you’ll only be disappointed with yourself for not trying.