Recently, my ex-husband and dear friend was recovering from an intense medical procedure at my home.  During this same time, I was dealing with some challenging health issues of my own.  We needed both physical help and emotional support, as these conditions seemed like an unusual pile on.  We were so blessed to receive this support from others.
As we moved through this difficult time, I began to think about friendship and how important it is in our lives.  Friendship comes in many disguises.  There’s traditional friendship, friendship within an intimate relationship, family members who are also friends, employees or employers who take on that role as well, and acquaintances who move into that role temporarily when the need arises.  Friends can be any age, sex, or come from any background.  I began to investigate what spiritual teachers, ministers, and relationship therapists, more knowledgeable than me, had to say about this subject.  Below is some guidance that I found helpful on this topic.  I hope this will also enhance your friendships and make them more fulfilling.
1.  It’s helpful to come into a friendship with an attitude that says, “You can count on me, no matter what.” You want to be, in a friendship to another, what you want to have for yourself.  Remember, how you treat a friend reflects how you value a friend!
2.  Spending time with these important people is essential.  If we don’t make time for these relationships, they can’t be cultivated and made strong.  They will fall apart at the time we need them most.  Too often busy lives and commitments take precedent.  Women particularly face this challenge with one another.  Make a space in your schedule to spend time with your friend.
3.  Be available to listen to your friends and share yourself with them.  Many times, a good friend is also a strong phone buddy.  Often getting together physically can be challenging on a regular basis, especially if they live at a distance.  Texting and e-mailing can feel cold and remote.  These venues are great for brief connection, but do make a space for a deeper connection like a phone call.
4.  Be willing to laugh and cry with those closest to you.  Be willing to go through trials with them and be the support system that may be needed.  Feel free enough to share with friends what is going on within your life and to ask for what you need from a friend. Also, remember to ask them what they may need from you.
5.  Thank your friends for being there.  Don’t take anyone for granted.  Let them know you value their love and support, and willingness to come through as needed.  Be thoughtful and considerate.  Lift people up when they’re down and remind them that you see their highest potential and that you will be holding that vision for them.
6.  Try to remember that no one is perfect, not them, and not you.  So, we will do these relationships lovingly, but imperfectly.  We are creating ourselves on a higher level as we create our friendships on that same level.  Our friendships will reflect our judgments of ourselves and of others, as well as our ability to forgive ourselves and others.  As we do our own inner work and reach into our own shadow and begin to heal it, these relationships will become healthier, stronger, and more loving.
7.  Work to be open and transparent within your friendships.  Trust is an essential ingredient.  Without it a relationship cannot be successful.  Become a trusted friend and make that an important value in your relationship with others.  Hiding and secrecy create distrust.  People can feel this within us and they will begin to move away from us.
8.  Admit when you are wrong!  Live up to your promises.  Don’t continually defend yourself with others.  Explanations are often required when there’s a misunderstanding, and these can smooth out rocky roads that occur at times.  But, watch yourself becoming defensive.  Defensiveness is always a cover-up for fear.  It’s up to you to work on healing your own inner fears.  It can be helpful to ask a friend, “What can I do to help restore or rebuild this relationship?”  Watch your tendency to throw people away because of your own bruised ego.  No one is recommending you stay in a relationship that is unhealthy for you.  Some relationships are nothing more than energy drainers.  Be kind and loving to yourself as well.
It is my hope that these pointers will bring you richer and more successful relationships.  Relationships that bring you joy, love, and peace in your life.  I want to take this opportunity to thank all those loving friends in my life who have been there for me and continue to support me on my journey to become the best I can be.