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5 Mistakes That are Ruining Your Friendships

  • Carrie Dedrick
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  • 2017 Mar 03
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Friendship is a tricky thing. And what’s tricky about it is that you don’t realize how valuable real friends are… until you need to make new ones. 

When I moved to a new city in 2012, I knew few people in the area. It became very clear to me very quickly that I would need to make connections (and fast!) if I was going to ever be happy in this new place. 

Unfortunately, in these early days at attempted friendship-making, I messed up. A lot. But as Lisa Jo Baker points out in the (in)courage blog 5 Common Friendship Mistakes and How to Avoid Them, messing up while trying to make friends and be a friend happens all the time. 

But if we’re more aware of these common errors, we can learn to form the kinds of friendships we all long for, true friendships that withstand time, distance, and real life issues. 

According to Baker, these are the friendship mistakes that we most commonly make: 

1. Assuming a friend can be all things at all times to us. 

You know this friend. Or if you’re truly honest with yourself, maybe you know you are this friend. This is the needy friend. The woman (or man) who looks to her friends for encouragement way too often. This goes beyond a friend asking, “Does this top look good on me?” to which you respond, “You look fantastic!” 

This is the kind of relationship where you exert too much energy trying to convince your friend that yes, she is beautiful. Yes, she is talented. Yes, she is wanted, and yes, she is loved. And not just when she’s having a hard day or season of life, but all the time. This friend is looking to you for validation, instead of finding her validation in Christ. 

Baker writes, “Entering friendships firmly rooted in our faith, our family, and our identity is the healthiest way to start any new friendship.”

2. Forgetting that we all bring baggage into friendships. 

Everyone has a past. And whether you know what your friend’s baggage is or not, there will be a time when her “suitcases of junk” affects you. Your past will affect your friend as well. 

This could simply mean you need to talk about serious issues once in awhile. Or, depending on the situation, she might want you to get personally involved. 

But remember, Baker says, “At the end of the day, it’s not your job to fix your friends. It’s your job to love them, while maintaining healthy boundaries that serve you both.”

3. Setting unrealistic expectations for a friendship. 

Have you barely met this person and already feel like you are best friends? Take a step back and slow down. You might be right, but you also could be letting your enthusiasm about the prospect of a new friend take over. 

So before you dive in completely, learn a little bit more about your potential new friend. Does she have a demanding job with long hours and travel? Is she managing a family with several little people at home? 

If you are expecting weekly coffee dates and afternoon jogs in the park, and she can barely find five minutes in the day to wash her hair, your friendship might be doomed before it even begins… because your expectations are too high. 

“...it’s essential we identify the often-unrealistic expectations we bring into friendships – and how those can disappoint us before we’ve even begun,” Baker says. 

4. Refusing to let friendship get beyond “fine.”

If a true friendship is what you’re looking for, you will have to learn to let your guard down. It’s easy to get swept up into trying to have a Pinterest-perfect lifestyle… the kind where you’re always dressed stylishly, your kids are perfectly behaved, you go to the gym three times a week, and your house could be on the cover of HGTV Magazine. But this is 1) exhausting and 2) impossible to maintain. 

When we learn to tell our friends, “I’m having a hard time right now,” we cross into territory where our struggles are put out in the open, not hidden away. Walls are broken down, and in that raw place, we discover the friends who love us despite our imperfections. 

“If we want real friendship that goes beyond politeness or carpool or small talk, we must be willing to admit how we’re really doing… We must sacrifice the pretty perceptions we’ve built of others and ourselves,” Baker writes.

5. Worrying about what our friends will think of us instead of trusting them with who we really are. 

I’ve said many times, “You can tell how close of friends we are by how dirty I let you see my house.” While I’ve always said this with a joking smile, there is more truth to this than I’d like to admit. 

So many of us won’t open our doors until the floors have been vacuumed and the dirty dishes are out of sight. If my husband opens our kitchen pantry in front of guests, I lose my mind (because let’s be real - it’s a disaster). But why do we care? 

We’re afraid of being judged by the very people who love us. 

I love what Baker says about this: 

“...friendship shouldn’t equal entertaining… it starts with our willingness to open the door whether we’re prepared or not. It starts with admitting that our quest for perfection is a gift to no one.” 

Open your doors, friends. Open your hearts. Because above all, we are called to love others. 

Baker writes, “Some of the best and hardest work God calls us to do is to love other people. One day, one woman, one misstep at a time.”

In 11 Biblical Principles for Becoming a Better Friend, Crosswalk.com contributing writer Kathy Howard says that loving our friends must be intentional. 

“This is actually harder than we might think. God calls us to love our friends like Jesus loves us – not in mere words, but with intentional actions of love that may often cost us something.”

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

 

Carrie Dedrick is an editor of Crosswalk.com. When she is not writing or editing, she can usually be found teaching dance classes, running marathons, or reading with at least one adopted dog on her lap. 

Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com

Publication date: March 3, 2017


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