How To Be The Friend Your Girlfriends Want (And Need)
Did you ever get the sense that your friend is avoiding you?
You know she’s alive and well because you’ve seen her chatting it up on Facebook or so-and-so saw her out at the mall with her mom
So, she’s OK—but you’re not.
You’ve left three voicemails that have gone answered. You’ve texted and emailed too, but still nothing.
You wrack your brain for a reason for this silence. “What did I do?”
You don’t recall a significant event, argument, or even a disagreement. So why the cold shoulder?
Well, I got news for you. She’s just not that into you (at least at the moment anyway).
If she is blowing you off, chances are you’re not being the friend she wants, or you’re just too needy for her right now.
The truth is we’ve all been “that” friend before. The one that’s annoying her best friend to death. The one that’s being avoided.
And, you know what it feels like to have a “toxic” friend, but do you know if you are being one?
Generally speaking, there are a few simple guides to make sure you’re being the friend your girlfriend wants and needs, and not just driving her nuts.
Ask if it’s OK to unload
Yes, we are all a little needy at times but that doesn’t mean you get all the attention all the time. Remember to ask your friend how she’s doing before you start to dump out your day’s woes. Sometimes your friend can’t be the friend you need at the exact time you need her. If she’s having a bad day, you might need to respect that and call someone else before you unload your stress onto her. If you don’t, you might not get the response you want because you’re being insensitive to what she needs at the moment, and you may be making her day worse.
Learn how to listen
We typically “listen” to a friend while we are formulating our opinion of what we are going to say next. Many times your friend wants your opinion, but other times she just wants you to listen. You can’t always fix her problem, but you can listen with an open heart and “hear” what she is saying. There are times when just listening is priceless and can elevate a friendship to the next level.
Don’t be pushy
A very common complaint from women is that their friend keeps forcing them into doing things they don’t want to do or feel uncomfortable doing. If you’re pushing your friend to be your wingman or tag along to that pilates class she doesn’t really want to go to, you’re taking advantage of her. It’s an energy sucker for her that will eventually suck the joy right out of your friendship.
Similar to being too pushy, don’t assume your friend can or wants to make time or put in the effort to do what you want her to do. After giving in several times to appease you, you’re friend will get annoyed at your presumptuousness and disappear, or avoid you until she’s ready to try spending time with you again.
Check in with your expectations
Be the friend you want someone else to be for you. Pay attention to how she’s feeling and how her personality and goals are different from yours. Don’t expect anything of your friend that you wouldn’t do for her, and consider your differences before expecting her to do something specific for you.
Hold yourself accountable
If your feelings get hurt because your friend is feeling annoyed or upset with something you’ve done, you’re not putting the friendship first. You are making it about you. Ask what the problem is, (wo)man up and apologize, and ask what you can do to keep it from happening again.
It’s not all about you
Sometimes your friend can fall off the radar if there’s something wrong in her life. She may not always be able or willing to share what’s going on, so it’s your job to check in, be willing to listen and ask her what you can do to help.
Respect the end
There’s lots of totally acceptable reasons why friendships end, but most people are not so graceful at making the break. If your friend feels like you’ve grown apart, or she no longer resonates with your interests, she may have a hard time letting you down, so she avoids communication. You may each have different ideas about what your friendship is or has become, and unless you discuss your purpose in each other’s lives and how to make it work for both of you, you might as well let it go gracefully. Holding grudges and having unrealistic expectations never makes anyone feel good. Share a moment of gratitude for the time you’ve been friends and send good wishes for what is to come for both of you as you go your separate ways.
Avoidance and unreturned phone calls are a sign of disappointment, anger, frustration or unhappiness. A great friend will check in with herself first and see if she did anything obvious to cause offense. If not, just ask your friend directly if you've offended her. If you have, be willing to accept the answer without a defensive attitude and hold yourself accountable for your actions. If you disagree, handle it like adults. Make a plan to repair, forgive and move forward, or agree to go your separate ways. If you haven’t upset her, take the time to see what’s going on in her life that has pulled her away.
Clear communication, self-accountability and sensitivity are foundational to a successful and long-lasting friendship. If you have those elements as the basis of your friendship, you can create beautiful relationships that withstand the ebb and flow of life and serve both of your needs as you change and grow together.
Susan Falcone, the founder of Powering Possible, is a certified personal development coach and seasoned entrepreneur. Dedicated to helping professional women balance the demands of life and career, she guides them towards effectively supporting their personal and professional goals without burning out, freaking out, or selling out. Her professional life is a testament to her dedication to live life fully and passionately despite health challenges and circumstantial limitations. Find her online at www.poweringpossible.com and @SusanFalcone.