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How can I evaluate my friendships?

Karen R Koenig
Psychology

There are two approaches you can take to assessing friendships and what to do with them. The first is to ask yourself, Does my circle of friends meet my social and emotional needs? Start by wondering, On the whole, do I have enough intimates whom I’d die for and who’d die for me (okay, that’s a bit over the top, but you get the gist)? I’m talking about sacred sisters (or brothers) who have proved themselves over and over and are just about the most spectacular friends anyone on the planet could ever wish for. You want to have at least one, if not two or three of these. I know that’s a tall order, but it helps to have more, rather than fewer, close friends. In spite of cell phone accessibility, friends occasionally deserve private time and do drift out of signal range.

The next step is to consider if you have enough people in your life who share your passions, values, and interests. Can you count on people to enjoy doing what you like to do, and vice versa, so that you can stay socially engaged and have fun? This is not an idle question. Too many nice girls work hard and don’t know how to play. They turn food into fun instead of pursuing more satisfying activities. If your best friend is in Aruba on vacation, she may be available on the phone to cheer you up when you get the flu, but she’s not about to wing it home to take in a special watercolor exhibit. You need at least a handful of people who have similar interests or who are easygoing and happy to join you in your plans. They may not be a disco diva like you, but they’ll tag along to a dance club. Or even though they’re not wild about opera, they’ll join you because they can’t pass up a chance to dress up.

Okay, that’s the general approach to evaluating friendships. Now listen up for strategy number two: Consider each of your friends individually - your former roommates, sorority sisters, old college chums, people you hang with from work, coffeeklatch neighbors, kids’ friends’ parents, gym buddies, and your oldest friend from second grade. Go through them one by one and decide if you value the friendship, including why or why not. I know, right about now you’re dreaming about how scrumptious a chocolate chip cookie would taste, but bear with me. I didn’t say analyzing friendships would be a piece of cake. So tick off all the people on your list and decide if they’re worthy of you and whether you love having them in your life.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.