Life goes well when you have good mates that add value to your life, and vice versa. Choosing the right people, and then keeping those friendships, does take some forward thinking and effort. Yvonne Godfrey shares tips to help out teens develop healthy relationships as they emerge into adulthood.
Start by having realistic expectations of each other. It’s no good if one person wants to be a casual friend and the other one wants to be BFFs from day one! So take your time. When a relationship builds more slowly and naturally, you can be honest in the way you communicate, and avoid pretending to be someone you’re not.
Relationships grow in layers. They tend to progress from acquain- tance to casual friend, then on to regular hang-out buddy, fol- lowed by close inner circle friend, and eventually life-long friend. But a relationship doesn’t have to go beyond a certain point. You can put the brakes on at any stage and not go any further – and that’s perfectly okay. Be prepared to let the other person do the same, without taking it personally.
Is there value in the relationship for both people? A friendship might work short-term if one person is doing all the taking and the other is doing all the giving, but pretty soon that deal will break down.
Share common morals
Friendships don’t work well when one person has significantly higher or lower morals or values. If the other person has higher or more healthy morals, this can be an opportunity to jump on board, be influenced in a good way, and reshape your character for the better. But, if their morals are lower – look out, because pretty soon you’ll find yourself coming down to their level. If you’re a su- per strong person, you may be able to help them lift their game, but this is the exception to the rule – so don’t overrate your ability to be able to change someone.
Copes with change and conflict
People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Not all relationships last forever. Imagine your friendships are like three parts of a tree. There are the leaves – which are like friends who come into your life for a very short time or a specific reason. Then there are the branches – which are like the friends that last for a season, such as the time you spend at school or university. And lastly, there is the trunk – which represents your lifetime friends.
It’s been said that we change 80 percent of our friendships every five years. If your friends are not changing, it could mean you’re not developing as a person. We all develop and grow at different rates. The people you are currently hanging out with may stall in life for a while and not mature as quickly as you do – or the oth- er way around. Some people just want to have fun after leaving school, while others become fiercely ambitious and can’t wait to make their mark in life. The bottom-line is that you’ll end up spending more time with like-minded people.
As a relationship develops, it will eventually be tested by some degree of conflict. This is a good thing, even though it can feel difficult at the time. You won’t know if you can last the distance with a friend until you have recovered from a falling-out.