Building Healthy Friendships

Building Healthy Friendships October 11, 2023

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The other day, a friend of mine and I were talking when she suddenly blurted out, “Do you think people can build  healthy friendships based on their religious values?” I looked at her blankly for a moment before asking what had prompted her to ask this question.

She continued on to tell me that her brother thought that the only healthy relationships to be had were based on shared religious values. Apparently, she’d been pondering what he had said to her for several days. Clearly, she was trying to decide if all of her friends had to be all of the same religion or if they could be friends in spite of different beliefs.

I reminded her that she was Catholic, and I was raised by a staunch Baptist minister and his staunch, formerly Lutheran wife. I had forged my own beliefs into what is often called “Progressive Christian.” I told her that I’m sure there are truths and fallacies in all of the above-mentioned beliefs.

She fell silent and looked at me for a time. Finally finding her tongue, she said that I had just given her the best explanation that she had heard yet. She decided that what she really needed to say to her brother was that they had the right to their own opinions, and that didn’t make either of them better than the other. They could agree to disagree on religion while still sharing wholesome values.

Importance of Seeking Support From Like-Minded Communities

Part of growing and stepping out of our comfort zone is to make friends and seek support from like-minded communities. Like-minded communities offer a space to share their experiences, challenges, and goals. They can create a supportive environment where they feel heard and validated based on mutual understanding.

Communities offer us a safe means to access a wealth of knowledge. Members can readily share tips, tricks, and resources that may be quite helpful in day-to-day living. When we see that others face the same struggles and manage to overcome them, we are motivated to move beyond our struggles and improve our lives.

Being a part of a community prevents us from being isolated. We have a sense of belonging that helps to reduce loneliness and feelings of isolation. Interacting with one another expands our horizons and encourages us to personal growth.

Communities provide opportunities for collaboration and networking. Members can find potential partners, mentors, or collaborators who can help them in their personal or professional pursuits. Communities offer one another emotional support and encouragement. They help us to form a support system.

Overcoming Guilt and Fears

We should never feel guilty for choosing healthy friendships. Sometimes, we have to walk away from some of our friends to cultivate that healthy relationship. As people grow, they often change their set of friends. They may also change their values as they grow and mature. This isn’t at all unusual.

Think back to when you left high school. You had a specific set of friends. When you started your job, you likely had a different set of friends and then gained some co-workers as friends. As we grow and mature, it’s not at all unusual for our friendships to change. If meeting up with certain friends makes you feel miserable, or like you’re not having any fun, you may have outgrown that particular group of friends. It may be time to be “busy” at the next get-together and see how you feel from there.

Consider Where You Made Your Friendships

When considering healthy friendships, it’s important to consider where you made them. Are you looking for a lasting friendship? If so, you will want to base your friendship on shared values. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your friends are all going to be the same religion.

Sometimes, we have a group of friends at school, a different group of friends at work, and a different group of friends as our neighbors. This is pretty normal for most people. It’s not at all unusual for some of these friendships to fall by the wayside when we leave school, a job, or move to a different neighborhood. The key is to focus on healthy relationships.

In a healthy relationship, both parties will feel mutual respect. They will both feel valued. Most healthy relationships have open communication. Every relationship is unique. What works well in one friendship or relationship may not work at all in another. It’s important to remember that communication is the key to any relationship. Focus on being honest in your relationships. If you’re feeling like you have to lie to your friend, this isn’t a healthy relationship.

Take Away

In the intricate tapestry of life, friendships will weave a pattern through our various connections and companionship. As we navigate through the various stages of life, it’s only natural that some of the friendships will fade as our circumstances change.

True friendships, regardless of the setting, are built on the foundation of mutual respect, shared values, and open communication. Our relationships are as unique as we are as individuals. Each friendship will have its own set of shared values and communication.

The key to embracing a healthy relationship is to nurture the bonds of friendship on an individual basis. You may have one ‘go-to’ friend and several others that you laugh with, but don’t share your innermost feelings and thoughts.

As you journey through life, treasure the bonds of friendship that enrich your life. Let go of friendships that are no longer close. Cultivate healthy friendships and pave the way to a fulfilling and enriched life. Your friendships that are solid will stand the test of time and add value to your life.

About Elle Clark
Elle is a Pastor’s Daughter and has been writing for over three decades. She writes about youth mentoring, addiction recovery, parenting, senior advocacy, gardening and sustainability, and an eclectic mix of other topics. She resides in Northeastern Washington with her husband and children. You can read more about the author here.

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