Committed Friendships


"When the satisfaction, security, and development

of the other person is as significant to you as your own,

a state of love exists."

Harry Stack Sullivan

In order to sustain relationships with your best friends, put a check by those commitments you want to fortify first.

1. I want to be a friend. List all the qualities you want in a friend. Then ask yourself which of those qualities you have or need to develop further. Commit yourself to improving those qualities.

2. I will consciously act on Harry Stack Sullivan's classic definition of love or affection. Acting on this principle destroys barriers between people and builds a closeness that generates a delightful sense of connection.

3. I will make adequate time for friendship. If you would like an acquaintance to be one of your best friends, you will need to spend time together. Where will you find the time? Ask yourself, "Can I reduce time I spend on social media or the Internet in order to spend more face time with close friends?" Friends need time together to develop mutual understanding. Emotions need time to become clear and expressed. Thoughts need time to be collected, sifted, organized, and articulated.

4. I will enjoy the uniqueness of my friend. True friends affirm each other's distinctiveness in contrast to our common tendency to want to duplicate ourselves. We see our friends not as copies of ourselves, but as complements who add to rather than detract from our own identity. If you want to build strong friendships, do three things consistently: a) allow for habits and temperaments unlike your own, b) cut the other some slack, and c) choose to see differences as a challenge to your skill at achieving cooperation.

5. I will avoid criticizing, condemning, and judging my friends. This commitment is so huge that it's worth writing on a sticky note and putting it on your mirror as a daily reminder. It's sensible because none of us is perfect and it's necessary because our viewpoints and actions aren't always right nor others' always wrong. Check your body signals, tone of voice, and words. Do they convey judgment or acceptance?

6. I will look for opportunities to give sincere compliments. The "law of mutual exchange" works in a positive way when we give compliments that draw out the best in each other. Others are motivated to look for the best in us. Compliments such as the following decrease emotional distance.

* I like the way you care for yourself.

* Your views on this topic show sensitivity to nuance.

* You put a lot of good thinking into this project. It shows.

* You seem to know just when to say the right thing.

* Your friendship means a great deal to me. You make me so

happy.