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Holisticonline.com

Weeding Through Your "Friendships"
by Trixie

Some people are complete pack rats (myself included!!). We save everything - whether we need it or not. Our reasons are simple - we may need it someday. This can include anything from old cards and letters, to magazines and recipes, and friends.

That's right - friends. Or at least the people we throw into the category of "Friends". But sometimes we need to go through and re-evaluate who our friends really are. We need to keep the good and toss the bad or out-of-date. (Much like with shoes, clothes, etc.) In order to do this it is best to begin by creating our own personal categories of friendships. For this article I will use categories that suit my own life - but feel free to modify to suit your own needs / preferences.

"Friendship Main Categories"

Let's begin by creating our main categories of friends and defining them:

Lifetime Pals:

These are the friends that we have known since childhood. We grew up with them, went to school with them, etc. You have watched each other grow up - and usually know the best and worst about each other.

Adult Friendships:

These are the friendships that we have created as adults. They may not have the history of a Lifetime Pal, but our relationships with them can be just as deep, and tend to be more mature.

The Work Mates:

These are the people that we've met through work. They aren't always people we would usually meet in our day-to-day lives - but we've developed a relationship with them while seeing them on a daily basis.

Friends of Friends and Family:

These can be your spouse's friends, your friends' friends, your sister's friends, your brother's girlfriend, etc. They tend to be people you see on a regular basis. You may even know quite a lot about them - but usually through a third-party.

Acquaintances:

These are people that you know for a variety of reasons - but not very well. They very well may be people that you like - but not necessarily people that you confide in or hang out with. Now take the people that you consider friends and place them in the most appropriate "Friend" Category.

"Friendship Sub-Categories"

Within the categories above are some sub-categories. People can fit into one or many of these. For the purposes of the exercise, place your friends listed above in the sub-category that best describes them:

True Friends:

This is the most important sub-category. These should be the people you trust the most. The friends you can count on. The friends you know you can call in a crisis - and also the friends that know they can call you in a crisis. Would you get out of bed at 2AM to talk them through a break-up? Would they drive through a snowstorm to go to your mother's funeral? You get the idea. True Friends aren't necessarily people you see or talk to on an everyday basis. You may live far apart, etc. But you don't need to. Whether it has been one day or 5 years since you've seen each other - the bond is still as strong as ever. Put them on this list.

The Fun Crowd:

These are the people that you love to be around. The life of the party. These are people that you invite to your parties, or hang out with on a day off from work. You may even take vacations together. Although you may not tell them your secrets and life story - they are good people that you sincerely like. Think of them as "friends with possibility of being "True Friends".

The Convenient Folk:

These are people that are easy to be around. They're schedules mesh with yours. You may live near each other or work together, etc. They're convenient. You usually have something in common: kids, hobbies, interests, etc. But if the convenience was gone, they may be, too.

Love 'Em or Leave 'Em:

These are the people that you can live with or live without. If they moved away you probably wouldn't stay in touch (although you may make promises to do so.) You may invite them to your home for dinner - you may not. They're still nice people - you just haven't formed a deeper friendship with them.

The Tolerable Ones:

These are people that you may not particularly like. But you may not dislike them either. Usually these are friends of friends - but can include anyone. You're nice to them when you hang out - but aren't on your Christmas card list. You wouldn't go out of your way to make plans with them, but you may accept their invitations from time to time.

The Old Friends:

This is the toughest category to put people into. These are the people that may have been in any of the other categories at some time in your life. But if you ask yourself "If I were to meet this person today, what would I think of them?" the answer you give can make you realize that they're simply "Old Friends". The friends that you have simply because you were friends: either because it is habit, or because you don't want to hurt their feelings by ending your friendship. Maybe you've just grown apart - nobody's fault. But when you take a close look, you realize that you were friends more than you are friends.

Maybe Not a Friend After All:

Ahhh - the "Former Friend" or "Friend You're Angry With". Or maybe the people that were some type of friend - but through changes that you, her or both of you have gone through have made you different people than you were when you first met. Or they're simply acquaintances that you don't know well enough to place in one of the other categories. Yet. For me - these also tend to be friends-that-I-don't-want-to-have-angry-with-me-so-I'll-stay-they're-friend friend.

The people you placed in these categories may change. You may become close with a Love 'Em or Leave 'Em type friend. Or someone in the Fun Crowd may become a Tolerable One. Friendships are fluid. But for our purpose here - you need to place them in the category that best describes them today.

The Big Picture

Now that you've sorted through your friends like laundry - read over your list. Is everyone where they should be? Honestly? Do you truly appreciate the people that have been really good to you? Do you value your friends like they do you? Or are you giving some of them too much credit? Sometimes we hang on to people and friends because we think we should. After all - these are human beings. But as we get older we sometimes discover that some of our "Friends" are turning into more work than they're worth. Some of them may display behavior that we are no longer comfortable with. They may hurt you, or piss you off. That can be a hard to thing to realize and face. But in order to have a happy life, you need to know who makes you happy. If there is someone on the list that has caused you pain - or that you feel isn't worth the trouble they cause - you need to put them on the....

Booted List

Now comes the weeding. Examine who you have on your lists. Is there anyone you can honestly live without? Friendships are give and take. If someone has been doing a whole lotta taking - but selfish with the giving - boot 'em. Is someone causing you problems in your life or other friendships? Boot 'em. This doesn't have to be a lifetime ban - but you don't need to deal with the crap now. Don't put them back on the list until they've earned the right. Examine the people on your Tolerable Ones, Old Friends and Maybe Not a Friend After all lists. If they don't have heavy potential of making a different, better category - and soon - boot 'em. Spend your time and energy on the people that you enjoy, the ones that deserve your friendship.

Hanging on to people out of habit or a sense of loyalty is common. But that doesn't mean that they're good for you. By weeding through the people in your life, you may find you relieve a lot of stress. When you toss out problem people, the problems tend to go with them. You'll be happier for giving yourself the time to be with the people that you truly care about. As you get older and your values change you'll find your lists do, too. That is OK! It is your life and you have the right to decide the types of people you want in it.

Nobody is perfect - including us. The final assignment is to look at the list you have and see how you can help build and maintain the friendships you have. As the old saying goes, "You have to be a friend to keep a friend." If you find your lists are short on people - and this makes you unhappy - look at your own behavior and try to improve. After all - you don't want to find that you've been booted from your friends' lists!

See Also:

5 Ways to Develop Friendships That Really Count
How do you develop friendships that nurture your spirit and enrich your lives? By following these 5 guidelines you can begin developing friendships that will uplift and inspire you.

Valentine's Day — Where Did That Come From?
I discovered that Valentine’s is not a holiday that was “invented” by greeting card companies to sell more greeting cards or by candy companies to sell more candy or by florists to sell more roses. Valentine’s Day actually started more than 1,500 years ago.

Find an Excuse to Love
"Some children just need more love." I don't know how many times I heard Mrs. Tucker say that. Mrs. Tucker was a 73-year-old woman who worked with me in an after-school daycare program. She rarely missed an opportunity to show warmth and affection to a child.


Copyright 2004 Girlposse.com, LLC

Trixie is an editor and contributor to Girlposse.com (http://www.girlposse.com ), an on-line magazine for women and girls. Reviews, articles, travel, bad date stories, forums, advice and more.

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