Overcoming Friendship Difficulites

Friend or “Frenemy”?

Image of two friends with their back turned to each other Are there certain qualities that help to create and maintain beneficial, caring friendships? Are there warning signs that can tip us off to hurtful friendships? If so, wouldn’t it be helpful to know about these positive and negative characteristics? We could then use this knowledge to choose our friends with care and to also become a more compassionate friend to others.

Today a friend and I walked together. She told me about her story and I updated her about mine. We genuinely care about each other. We gently hold each other’s thoughts and feelings. We value each other.

When I returned, I thought about how some friendships tend to diminish our well-being while others enhance it, adding value to our lives. Some friends are constant and loyal friends, while other relationships have the intermittent and disturbing dynamics of frenemies. Let’s take a moment to think about some characteristics of friends versus frenemies.

  • trust versus mistrust, doubt, caution
  • confidentiality versus gossip
  • loyalty versus betrayal, abandonment
  • willingness to include versus exclude
  • encouraging words versus put downs, negative humor or comments
  • responsive to contacts versus ignores contacts, turns away, silent treatment
  • honesty with tact versus honesty without regard for feelings
  • balanced sharing and listening versus imbalance in sharing and listening
  • enhances self and the other versus diminishes self and the other
  • appreciation of friend’s abilities, successes versus jealous of friend’s abilities, successes
  • empathy versus judgment
  • curiosity versus assumptions
  • acceptance versus rejection
  • respectful versus controlling
  • willingness to forgive versus holding a grudge
  • brings out the best versus brings out the worst

You may have experienced some wonderful and enduring friendships in life. Some may date back to your childhood or youth. Others may have developed in adulthood. Some of these relationships may have needed to be repaired along the way because of a misunderstanding or difference of opinion. This repair work can be difficult, requiring honesty, tact, curiosity about the other’s thoughts and intentions, and a willingness to set aside our assumptions and our fears. It may require vulnerability in offering a sincere apology or in opening the door to forgiveness. However, reconciliation is worth the effort when a restored friendship is the result.

On the other hand, you may have experienced friendship that did not end well. Perhaps you have observed friendships that failed miserably. If so, you may have gained a deeper understanding of the sadness, anxiety, anger, and grief that can be experienced when an important friendship falls short and is no more. These are legitimate feelings that reflect how important the relationship had been.

Are you or someone you know experiencing friendship difficulties? Do you sometimes feel that no matter what you do, you can’t make the relationship better? Do you have a pattern of choosing frenemies? Would you like to develop more positive friendships in your life? If so, please contact me so that we can talk about your situation.