To What Standards Do We Hold Our Friends?
My circle of friends has morphed significantly in the last couple of years. It has a lot to do with my own soul-searching but it also has a lot to do with searching the souls of other people.
Some of it was expected after a divorce. You lose mutual friends you had with your spouse, you gain new ones as you start to reinvent your life as a single person. Some of it was a result of determining how much of a standard I wanted to hold the company that I kept.
People will argue that our standards for our friends don’t have to be very high. They’re not our life mates. They’re not our family. They’re not our co-workers. I disagree wholeheartedly.
My friends are my life mates and my family. If I am going to give them that place of distinction, they need to earn and deserve that. I expect that they would hold me to the same standard and I want them to.
I’m a very loyal friend and I have always been hesitant to let go of people in my life. I’m not good at it. Once somebody has carved a place in my life, they tend to stay there. I don’t find that a necessary practice anymore.
It’s a hard paradigm shift to embrace.
I think about all the standards and expectations that I have put in place as established boundaries in my dating life. It’s been remarkably important and critical to me in maintaining the level of mental health that I wish.
Part of this has meant that I don’t tolerate certain behaviors, certain speak, and certain attitudes to permeate my life.
I have been critical of potential partners but not necessarily of friends. We have a tendency to be far more tolerant and accepting of friends than we are lovers. Perhaps it’s because we place romantic partners into a different category in our lives than we do friends.
We are as good as the company that we keep, regardless of what category of our lives that company falls into.
Perhaps this is why, as I grow older, I find myself far pickier with whom I spend my time and surround myself. We all deserve to surround ourselves with the people who will feed our minds, our hearts, and our souls in a way that we need them fed and to be around others that want the same from us.
It’s difficult for us to tell ourselves that we no longer find the presence of a friend, especially one we’ve had for a long time, befitting of our lives.
Last year, I had to walk away from a couple of friendships and it was exceptionally hard for me. The reality of it was that the friendships were maintained more out of routine than anything else. They had been long-standing but we had grown as people and our compatibility had dwindled.
Yes, compatibility in friendship is important and needs to be evaluated from time to time. It’s not a matter of ensuring everyone around you is just like you or thinks like you. It’s making sure values, interests, and standards are in line.
I had turned a blind eye to certain behaviors of a friend that I would never tolerate in someone that I felt close to. I had dismissed aggressive tendencies, manipulative conversation tactics, and judgemental attitudes as “just part of their personality.”
We don’t have to tolerate that. If we are friends with somebody, as an adult, we have the ability to look at that person and recognize the fact that who they are, what they think, and how they behave is no longer in line with the purpose that we have set forth for our lives and our hearts. Toxicity is not part of our purpose. Ever.
I will put in the same amount of effort and care into something that others do. No more, no less. Those are my standards. I hold them high and I choose to be around people that want me to meet their standards. It makes me a better person.
I crave more positive experiences in my life with people who bring me joy.
My friend Natalie just recently moved into a new apartment and sent me a message asking me if I would like to come over and see the place and have a little social distancing happy hour with her and her sister.
We spent a couple of easy hours that afternoon talking, having a few drinks, and enjoying each other‘s company. The next day, she sent me a message thanking me for coming over and bringing goodies for her new apartment and saying she can’t wait to get together again soon. I will happily give my effort and care because that kind of friendship fills my heart and deserves being fostered.
I understand how it is hard for an adult to make new friends. However, the weeding through of relationships in my life has made this exponentially easier.
I started out with a handful of wonderful, wholehearted friends who were open and kind. Just the kind of people that I want to be around because it feels so wonderful to be with them. It doesn’t feel strained. They bring out the best of me and love me for it.
What happens when you place people like this in your life is that they have also harvested the practice of making space in their life for other incredible people.
Desire to be around incredible people is infectious. As I met some of these wonderful people, my desire to introduce them to other wonderful people in my life grew, and vice versa. From there, the interconnectivity of friend circles began to happen.
Every now and then we need to call the herd in order to make room for others. Examine our standards and evaluate who meets them. We owe it to ourselves to be welcoming of people but choosy with whom we spend our precious time and energy. Our energy is not an infinite resource.
*My circle may not be very big anymore, but it’s tight and I like it that way:
A Dozen Friends, Three Beers, a Ton of Healing
When you turn the corner of life feeling joyful again.