Recipe for a good friendship


Christian Life


Photo Unsplash, Hannah Busing

Friendship is one of the essential things in life. But the saying goes that the only way to have a good friend is by being one. The Dutch coach Geralde Schreuder reflects on what being a good friend means.

"We always want to solve problems for the other, but good listening and being there for each other is sufficient in a friendship, Schreuder says in an interview with the Nederlands Dagblad.

The first characteristic of a good friendship is that people can reflect on each other and give honest feedback. That helps them develop and work on their weaker traits, Schreuder points out. She mentions the example of being on holiday with a friend. "She said I was on my phone too much. At first, that annoyed me, but soon I had to acknowledge that she was right. I appreciate that honesty."

However, when giving feedback, friends should do so carefully, and with love, Schreuder warns. "Leave space for the other to defend himself."

Set the bar too high

The Dutch coach notices that people tend to expect too much from their friends. "That way, we set the bar too high. That is disastrous for friendships." Instead, Schreuder argues that friends should not demand from each other to be their best friend, trustworthy sparring partner and the main person to share hobbies with at the same time. "Accepting that one person cannot have everything for you helps to have more realistic expectations of the friendship", she says. "There are friends with whom you mainly talk about work and other friends with whom you speak about life questions. Of course, you can have this best friend with whom you connect on all fronts of life. But in such a friendship, irritations and high expectations threaten the relationship."

Another problem many friends have is that they do not dare to be honest with each other because they are scared of losing their friends. That, too, is a danger to real friendship, Schreuder warns. "Little annoyances about certain behaviour become large frustrations. That causes distance and incomprehension."

Instead, friends should talk about their irritations. "These conversations are not always easy, but often they deepen the friendship. You show the other that he or she is worth having a difficult conversation with and that their friendship is too precious to let it go", Schreuder says. She stresses that listening is the most important ingredient in such conversations. "Try to listen and ask questions. Listen carefully to the need of the other."

Cherish old friendships

Honesty is another essential ingredient for friendships, according to Schreuder. Especially when a friend goes through a phase of crisis, it is not only important to listen to him or her but also to nuance certain statements. "For example, it is not good to rant with your friend about her husband's shortcomings. Instead, you need to remind her carefully that he is the father of her children and that she needs to try not to let her pain overrule everything."

Schreuder says it is essential to cherish old friendships while accepting that new ones need time to grow. "Friendships with history are valuable. Accept that there are times you have less contact with each other, but get in touch again when the time is there or when life's circumstances change."

At the same time, sometimes it can be necessary to find new friends, Schreuder acknowledges. "For example, when you enter a new phase of life. You may need to find friends who get along well with your partner or want to talk to mothers with children of the same age." Yet, new friendships need investments to grow, Schreuder states. "It takes time to get to know each other, show real interest and have a common ground, such as children, the same sense of humour, being single or a shared interest."

Real friendships show something of Who God is, Schreuder concludes. "Real friends care for each other and ask each other deeper questions. In true friendships, the fundamental human need is met: being seen."



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