Nurture your friendships and your romantic relationships.
A quality gal pal has certain characteristics that make her valuable, just like a good girlfriend does in a romantic relationship. We tend to separate these roles, even though, at our core, the quality is the same — the act of living authentically.
In other words, you value certain things in all relationships. For example, if you value honesty in your friendships, you probably seek honesty in your romantic pairings as well. And if you want time with your good friend or romantic partner that is focused on being together, rather than endless text and phone call interruptions, it means you are interested in quality time, rather than simply avoiding being alone.
So, it makes sense that you can practice relationship skills in both friendships and romance, which will teach you how to be a good girlfriend as well as a better significant other. And in addition to relationship advice you should be following for the sake of your partner, there are also a few rules to abide by to keep your friendships healthy.
Here are three tips for being a good friend:
1. Be sure your friendship is a good fit.
If one of you likes to read personal growth books and meditate, and the other just wants to go out drinking and look for men, you aren’t in alignment. Your energy is different and you’re in opposite places in your lives.
Differences are welcome but opposites can make for difficult and stressful relationships. It’s nice to be able to discuss things you both find interesting. Otherwise, you may find yourself simply pretending to listen in an attempt to pacify the other person, and that is lying and being inauthentic. Remember that you have to be a good friend in order to attract a quality friend.
The world is full of people who are broken wanting someone else to fix them, but it just doesn’t work that way. Those relationships, whether friendships or romantic, are doomed and full of blame and resentment.
2. Develop ground rules in the beginning.
What do you agree to do if an argument or uncomfortable situation arises? Will you talk it out right away or send an email explaining your viewpoints to one another so there’s time to think it through? Will you promise to keep it to yourselves while you’re figuring it out or is discussing it with others okay?
If you don’t have a system, the conflict can grow and fester or end your friendship in one big blowup of emotions.
It may seem unnatural at first, but I’ve had wonderful, trusted gal pals tell me they never liked the guy I was dating, although they later told me they did. Another said she went along to an event that turned out badly, only because she wanted to spare my feelings. I hadn’t wanted to go either! My gut feeling was to leave, but I didn’t want to let her down.
It’s really important to allow honesty without being hurt by it. Remember, pacifying someone is dishonest and disrespectful. Make a pact that it’s okay to speak up at any point if your intuition tells you something isn’t feeling right.
3. Keep it positive.
Although your good friend can offer great advice, be sure and write out your feelings, rather than dump your problems on her. This will allow you to gain clarity on the issue, and I’ve found it often inspires a great solution, independent of anyone else.
Quality friends need to be treated as such — they are “no dumping zones”. Write down your feelings until there’s nothing left you can think of to write. Get it out. Gain clarity on the real issue. You may solve it yourself or at least you will have less to discuss with her and it will be a much more positive, solution-oriented discussion.
Remind each other that you are there for them after they’ve journaled their feelings.
I always check with my girlfriends when I need to vent to find out if they are open to listening. You may say, “She is my friend. That’s her job.” While that may be true, it’s your job to value and respect her. Remember, she has things going on in her life, too.
Be sure you schedule lots of fun things to do and keep your friendship light-hearted. That way, when a serious discussion arises, there is a greater balance. Friendships can become toxic just like romantic relationships when there’s too much doom and gloom, and not enough sunshine and laughter.
Now, let’s relate these tips for being a good friend to being a good girlfriend in a relationship:
1. Choose someone who is a good fit for you.
Rather than just anyone who happens to be available. That may sound obvious, but people do it every day to avoid being alone.
There are people out there who share your values of honesty and respect, and it’s much better to keep looking than get in a bad situation out of desperation, don’t you think?
2. Set ground rules or boundaries
Especially for how you choose to handle conflict before it arises. If one of you likes to hash it out immediately and the other wants to sleep on it, come to an agreement on a happy medium so both of you feel respected and valued.
3. Always stay positive.
Men and women are constantly complaining about their complaining mates, which is funny when you think about it. They are doing the exact thing they dislike, only to other people. Instead, make your relationship fun.
Couples call it quits when things get stressful and negative, but they usually don’t put it in so many words. Trust me. These are the words: “It’s not fun anymore.” Making fun out of nothing is a skill, and one we would all be smart to develop. Stop taking things so seriously and laugh.