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  • Laura

Healthy Relationships

So what constitutes a healthy relationship? Well, for starters, it’s not a one-and-done thing – you might think that someone trustworthy is a good friend when they don’t show up in other ways. (If, by chance, all you want is trustworthiness, you’re all set.)

I would venture to posit that it would be the unusual individual who would be OK with that. People need more than that; they just do. So, again, what constitutes a healthy relationship? Well, it’s not just one thing – it’s a million tiny little things.

My bestie (and I count myself as lucky to have one) is trustworthy, which is the first hurdle of friendship, and he is so much more. I trust him to listen to me when things are good and, more importantly, when things go wrong. Our relationship is based on trust, love, companionship, common interests, travel, a confidant, and great big bear hugs. I love my bestie to the moon and back. In all these ways (and more), we have a good, healthy relationship. Here are the reasons I love (and trust) my bestie:

  • Trust is paramount. A relationship without trust is not a healthy relationship. While not the only marker of a healthy relationship, it is key to creating one. (Imagine having a so-called friend who you can’t trust. Do you feel comfortable sharing your life, struggles, etc.?)

  • Not every one of your friends will be that bosom body with whom you feel comfortable sharing your deepest darkest fears and struggles – those friendships are few and far between.

  • Privacy is key. You need to vet your potential new friend to ensure they aren’t shouting your closely held information from the rooftops. I had a so-called friend in college who shared what she knew about me in a not-very-flattering way – I most certainly learned a lesson. I was very invested in our friendship and felt like I had been stabbed in the back when I realized she didn’t respect me enough to keep my personal information safe and secure (which killed any trust I had in her).

  • Respect is essential. If you’re not treated with respect to your face, one can only imagine what your “friend” is doing behind your back. This is when back-stabbing can become an art.

  • Reciprocity is key. If someone listens a lot but doesn’t share their struggles or joys, you might have a one-sided relationship that you are over-invested in. The person who doesn’t return the level of sharing with you might be overwhelmed by life in general or might be shy – or, God forbid, might be sharing your personal information.

  • Do not do unto a friend what you would not want done unto you. Golden Rule, right? It just makes sense. If you treat a friend like shit, all bets are off, and dare I say, you are not a good friend. Like many things in life, friendship is a two-way street, so don’t burn your bridges unnecessarily.

  • That being said, do not hesitate to distance yourself from relationships that are difficult or toxic (see my last two posts).

  • Friendliness is huge. Do you want to start a relationship with someone who is surly? The caveat here is that someone who is really struggling can present as unfriendly or cold. Here is where you might give someone a chance. It bears noting, however, that you should surround yourself with positive people, especially if you are struggling – taking on someone’s struggles when you can barely deal with your own can be a disaster for one or both of you. I liken it to putting an inexperienced horseback rider on an equally inexperienced horse: it might work out, but there’s an overwhelming probability it won’t.

  • I am a bit unusual: I (obviously) feel perfectly fine “sharing my dirty laundry” in my blog posts. That may not be an option for you – you may not want others to know (like your boss). I’m lucky – I’m my own boss, so the worst that can happen to me in the caring and sharing aspect of my job is that I fire myself (which happens from time to time when I can’t find the words I want to express myself, a lovely side effect of anxiety and the meds I take).

  • Love yourself. Read that again: love yourself. Being a good friend to yourself enables you to be a good friend to someone else. And keep in mind, misery often begets misery. If the two of you are trying to be there for each other, or if you feel like one of you is in a much darker place, it’s OK not to be OK, and it’s OK to take a step back and take care of yourself.

  • If someone says, “You complete me,” run and run FAST. You should complete yourself. At the least, this dips down into the murky waters of co-dependence. No matter how much you identify or like a certain person, you don’t want to become enmeshed where the line between them and you becomes blurred. You want a delineation between ‘THEM” and “YOU.”

This is a partial list of the aspects of a good and healthy relationship. They are my observations and musings – I hope you create your own standards and learn what you will put up with and what you won’t.

As for me, I hit the bestie jackpot. I have known my bestie for 22 years – he is the best friend I’ve ever known. We are both very comfortable with each other and can bare our souls to each other in a safe, caring, and loving way. We challenge each other in a supportive way, and we learn from each other. A hug from Todd is genuine and kind: I am one lucky duck.

It bears mentioning that the Beast that is suicidality loooooves any chance to wheedle its way between friends – and it enjoys little more than beating you down when you are most vulnerable. You know, I wasn’t sure about Todd for a long time; I had been beaten down one too many times by “friends.” I’m glad that I stuck it out. And I think Todd is glad, too. Healthy relationships are not automatic; becoming close friends is a privilege, not a right. Play your cards right, and you can have a shot at developing happy relationships. So do yourself a favor – slap the Beast back into its place by enjoying the fruits of friendship. You’ve got this!!

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Nov 01, 2023

LAA, I am VERY LUCKY to say you are my BESTIE, and I am VERY LUCKY TO HAVE YOU IN MY LIFE, and YES, we don't speak every day, but we do know to pick up the phone/scream into it, and say I need you NOW..."Ain't no mountain High Enough, Ain't no mountain Low Enough" ---

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