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How To Be A Fabulous Friend

May I add to the title of this article: “The Memoirs From a Girl Who Has Sometimes Fallen Short.”

Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, often uses the metaphor of an “emotional bank account.” When you meet someone, you open an account in their emotional bank. Through your interactions with them, you can either deposit (with positive actions) or withdraw (with negative actions). When you make consistent deposits, you build trust and strengthen the friendship. But just because you have a good account with someone, doesn’t mean that it won’t ever go negative. While the wisdom is simple enough, sometimes when people are invested in us it’s easy to forget that we must keep investing in them. Take it from a graduate of the school of hard knocks, there are certain cardinal rules that every girl must abide by to stay “a fabulous friend.”

Don’t make plans with female friends only when your significant other makes plans with his guys friends. Does this scenario sound familiar? Boyfriend says, “Babe, I’m doing something with the guys on Saturday.” The girlfriend responds, “I wanted to see this new movie.” Boyfriend says, “Listen, I need to spend time with my friends.” Girlfriend says, “Fine!” and then calls female friends to make plans. Why is it that men can carve out time for their boys better than most women can? If you keep making your friends Plan B, next time Plan B might be to sulk at home alone.

Only 50% of the communication that you have with “close friends” should involve typing or selecting letters. Though technology gives us the ability to keep more people within reach, unfortunately it has decreased the quality of our communication. Plans and updates once made through conversation are now made through 40 character Facebook wall posts and text messages; life experiences are mass emailed or blogged. Increase the quality of your communication and pick up the phone. You never know when this bit of effort can halt a bad day or catch some news.

Listen. Even if it’s the same story about the same guy for the 100th time. Don’t judge or scold. Instead, tell her she deserves better and let her vent. Sometimes, she’s not looking for answers, but rather for the time and attention that the significant other is not providing. Sometimes she’s just looking for the comfort of knowing there is a friend there to listen. I used to let my inner problem solver get the best of me! But I’ve learned that it’s often less stress for both parties when I just listen.

In conflict, don’t resort to passive aggressive behavior or avoidance. If there is something bothering you, then maturely state it. In the past, I have been the queen of passive aggressive behavior and avoidance. It was a combination of conflict avoidance and selfishness. In the process, I alienated my good friends who were ready to communicate and really valued my friendship. It takes a long time to regain the trust you lose when you are not there for people who need you. And sometimes, you never do.

Be Patient. When your friend is in love distress, don’t lecture her with logic. People in love aren’t logical. Just remember the time when you weren’t logical and she was there to support you. Just because you have your senses now, doesn’t put you in the position to be holier than thou. You could be in the same place in a year. At which time, patience and understanding is all you will want.

Keep promises and keep dates. It was not until I was stood up by a friend without a phone call or any notice that I realized how much of a cardinal sin this was. We’re human, we forget dates and plans. But when you are forgetting a good friend, be prepared to make up for it.

Don’t flirt with a friend’s significant other. Let me be clearer: Don’t flirt, dance, date, touch, become best friends with, or marry a friend’s significant other. I’ve lost a great friend and I’ve lost a great love that way. 8 years into the future, it is still that great friend’s loss that dwells with me. It’s harder to get over a great friend than a boyfriend. There will always be more men, but the memories that you have with a friend will never be replicated.

You are never too busy to call. Why is it that it is so easy to call our boyfriends or significant others multiple times a day, but when it comes time to checking in on a friend, the thought becomes overwhelming and unable to fit into your schedule? I once had a friend that often said she was not a “phone person” and yet spent all her travel time/bedtime on the phone with her boyfriend. It’s not a surprise that after I moved, our friendship quickly dwindled.

It’s not OK to tell “just one person” your friend’s secret. Why? Because that person (usually with a lesser connection to your friend) will tell one person, who will tell one person…Before you know it there is a secret society of gossips that know your friend’s secret. At which point, you will be marked the “head gossip” and friends will think twice before sharing anything significant with you. Not to mention you will have violated her trust and confidence.

Don’t meddle. Yes, your girlfriend might tell you every detail of her life. But that doesn’t mean you should counsel her boyfriend, or even step in to drive the crazy boy away. She’s a peer and equal who will make her own decisions. If you are also good friends with the beau, resist the urge to play middle woman. Friends can be flighty about when they want your help and when they don’t; it’s better just to stay out.

Preserve their good name. There will come a time when their good name is in question, always look for their side of the story and give them the benefit of the doubt. There might also come a time where what makes you look good might make them look bad, compromise the situation so you both win.
Natasha is thankful for the friends who stuck with her through the experiences that inspired this article.

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