How to be a Better Friend
Along with getting sober comes learning how to create and maintain healthy relationships. In our addiction, many of us lost the ability to relate with others. We may have forgotten, or maybe we never really knew how to be a friend. True friends should make us feel good about ourselves, and the same in return. Friends are people you trust, those you feel completely comfortable around.
The term friendship refers to a relationship that is more intense than an acquaintance. This intimate connection involves trust, respect, love and compassion. According to the great English novelist, George Elliot, “Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words." That beautiful definition explains the basis of forming a friendship with another human being. Two people that share a common understanding, or bond are on their way to building a friendship. Along with the common bond, comes real love and compassion for each other.
A true friendship is a two-way street. This means that we have to give in order to receive. When we give love to another person, then we are capable of receiving love. Truly loving another individual is a new idea for many of us in recovery.
Through sobriety, we get to learn different ways to build healthy relationships. The following list can help you build lasting friendships:
Remembering their birthdays, anniversaries, or their kid’s birthdays
Asking them how their day was and actually listening as opposed to going on and on about yourself
Keeping things they say or share with you in confidence, or between the two of you – this builds trust, which is crucial for any healthy relationship
When a friend invites you over for dinner ask them if they need or want you to bring anything – it’s common courtesy as well
Never speak negatively about them when they are not around – if someone is gossiping about your friend show loyalty to that friend and defend them when necessary
Help out with something (moving, etc.) rather than offering to help – taking the initiative to show up and help a friend move, or buying them a house warming gift is much more thoughtful than simply saying, “I’m available to help you move.”
Remember their favorite soft drink, how they take their coffee, or their favorite food
Show them that you are proud of their achievements and accomplishments
Send them letters or gifts in the mail for no particular reason
When a friend is going through something give advice, but never judge them – avoid using the words “you should,” and never be offended if they don’t take your advice
Don’t be clingy or overbearing – give your friend space when they need it, and allow them to have other friendships
Make time for your friends – relationships take a little work, so set aside some time in your daily routine to communicate or get together and hang out with your good friends – text messages and e-mails are great, but real friends need face to face time together
Always be honest with them and follow through with what you say you will do
Be yourself and don’t try to fit in with a certain group of people just for an opportunity – choose friends with have the same interests as you, those who you have fun around, and those that have what you want emotionally and spiritually
Building healthy friendships takes a little work, but the result is well worth the effort. Our using days were filled with misery and pain. When we get sober we receive an opportunity to have amazing lives filled with happiness and joy. True friendships teach us how to love others, which in turn teaches us how to care for ourselves.