Did you know that according to a 2009 Dutch study, 50 percent of friendships won’t last longer than 7 years. All relationships, including friendships, require relationship skills, and take work. We need to invest in them and bring our best to keep them lasting for the long haul.
A Harvard study concluded that solid friendships are key to having good mental health and emotional stability, and help speed up our recovery during difficult moments of life. Having great friendships should be a top priority in our lives.
So, let’s take a look at an important key to attracting great friendships in our lives. But before that, let me ask you the following.
Do you constantly feel like your friends are letting you down?
While some might be doing just that, the truth is you might be expecting too much from them. Don’t worry, plenty of people do this, and admitting it to yourself is the first step. Let’s find out how to go further.
You may have heard expectations are the death of relationships. It’s true.
Expectations make other people around us unable to be human, unable to be themselves, unable to feel free around us. They smother and suffocate relationships.
So, where do expectations come from really? They derive, in part, from a lack of understanding or lack of right relationship with the world. We don’t know what is our responsibility and what is others’… and when we lack that clarity, we often fill in those gaps with unrealistic expectations.
Expectations are also our way of projecting out into the world our unmet needs. They are a subconscious way in which we are trying to source where a need will be met and by whom.
Do you find yourself putting heavy expectations on others? Look first at the unmet needs behind them, through inner work. Read through the following tips on how to deal with them and soon you’ll learn how to accept people for who they are, and find greater contentment in your relationships.
Your friendships are as good as you are a friend. The healthier you are in relationship, the better friendships you will attract. A big sign we are healthy in our friendships is our ability to take responsibility. One of the main reasons people expect too much from others is that they don’t take responsibility for what they nest in the relationship and what they are investing in their own lives. The more we neglect our own life and needs, the more we will pull from, resent and place expectations on our friends.
I worked with a woman once who heavily resented her best friend for getting engaged and married. We dug deep and it soon became evident she felt her life wasn’t moving forward and so she wanted to pull from her friends more. As soon as her life began moving forward, and her dating life became exciting through our work, the resentment and expectations evaporated, and their friendship balanced out.
Taking responsibility is about empowering ourselves, which is attractive not just to romantic partners but to friends who want to be there for you. It’s hard to admit when you’ve done something that causes disruptions in friendships. But the sooner you do the quicker you’ll get back on track and attract friends you can rely on, who want to love and support you.
This doesn’t mean you should take responsibility if something isn’t working on your friend’s end. The healthier you become in your relationship to yourself and life and others, the easier it will be to identify when you are having unhealthy expectations, or when it’s time for them to own their own piece of things.
Accept Other Opinions
We often feel like the way we like to do things is the best way, but this isn’t always true.
Learn to accept that others have their own ideas and opinions which may differ from yours, even if they make you uncomfortable. That’s what it means to truly set your friends free and accept them. You don’t have to agree with them, but you should respect their freedom to have their opinions. It’s easy to become frustrated when people aren’t agreeing with you on an issue, but if you learn to accept them, you’ll be able to let it go. This is all a mirror to how much you truly accept yourself. The less accepting you are of yourself, the more rigid and demanding you will be of others. Here’s where inner work is vital.
When talking about serious topics, allow others to voice their opinions. You don’t have to agree with them to respect what they have to say. Sometimes, it’s better to agree to disagree, rather than expect people to see your side of things. Always show a willingness to learn from them with open dialogue.
Appreciate, don’t take for granted.
Oftentimes, expecting too much from people results in them feeling that no matter how much they do or give, it’s never enough. Practice expressing appreciation frequently. People gravitate towards those that truly see and appreciate them. Although being thankful can often be difficult to practice, and it can also feel vulnerable, it will do amazing things for your friendship.
Don’t take your friends for granted. At times we confuse feeling comfortable around our friends, with taking them for granted. Whatever they invest in you, give to you and support you, let them know you see it and appreciate it. And then reciprocate.
Friends, like life, follow an ebb and flow. Sometimes they can be there for you, and other times life will pull them to focus on more immediate things. Give them space.
It’s critical in relationships to take a step back, put yourself in their shoes and practice awareness and understanding. There’s a reason for this – it works. Being understanding allows you to take a step out of the hectic schedule of your life and learn to see situations beyond whether they’re “good or bad”, into seeing the needs of others, with a balanced view of things.
When people let you down, you’ll be able to see it from their point of view, helping you be calmer about any situation and make a rational response.
Sometimes we expect things from people, without realizing they don’t know what we want. In close or romantic relationships, you might want them to already know what you’re thinking. Don’t assume they know how you feel, or know how to be there for you in every moment. Communicate your vision for friendships and ask them about theirs. Communicate how you like to be supported in an expressive way, not in a way that puts expectations on them.
In short, people can’t read your mind, and if you’re expecting them to do so, you’re leaving them in the dark. Being vocal about what you want will help others help you. Of course, you can’t expect everyone to do what you say. Just because you say you want something doesn’t mean they should give it to you. However, if someone is trying to give you what you want, they will feel relieved and happy to know how to do that for you.
For more information on how to make realistic expectations for the people around you, book a free consultation with us to discuss how you can be the person you want to be.