Eight Ways to Be and Have a Friend


This month on the Here Year has focused on friendship.  My friends and those I love the most have been firmly on my mind all month.  The thing is I’ve struggled with what to say that is new, to be honest.  I believe that true, honest, deep friendship is one of the most essential parts of a full and contented life.  I believe that certain fertile moments in our lives lend themselves particularly to making friends.  I believe that a person’s closest friends can tell you an awful lot about them and that who we truly love shows us a lot about who we are.

I have always loved my friends, and am truly blessed with wonderful people who are close to me.  Sometimes I hear from readers, though, that it all seems easy and smooth.  That’s far from the truth.  I’m not always a picnic to be close to, that I know.  I’m over-sensitive and take things personally, I react quickly and sometimes strongly, and generally I’m a pain in the ass.  I assure you: nothing in this life of mine is always easy or perennially smooth.  Please know that.  Part of why I feel so strongly about friendship is that I’ve learned, often through heartache, to value and defend those relationships that matter the most to me.

Aidan has often blogged on the Here Year themes with lists, which are a mix of reflection and action suggestion.  I love this format.

So, a few thoughts on ways to be, and have, a friend:

1. Remain Open.  I think the key to those particularly fecund friendship-making periods in our lives is that they are moments of real vulnerability.  When we let down our guard and reveal who we really are, that invites others in.

2. Be Loyal. Remember the other person’s feelings.  Include them. Consider how they will feel about something.

3. Be Trustworthy.  More than once people have been shocked to hear that I knew something about someone else and never said anything.  I’m always surprised by this shock.  To me, “don’t tell anyone” means don’t tell anyone.  Period.

4. Keep in Touch. It’s simple and doesn’t take very much time at all.  Just a quick “I’m thinking about you” means the world.  Email and text have made this so much easier.  Remember and mark birthdays (paper card is ideal, or an email or text, or, if it comes to that, a FB message) but the random “you’re on my mind” message or “I saw this and it made me think of you” can mean even more, in my opinion.

5. Say How You Feel.  I don’t think we tell the people we really love and value that enough.  Just say it.  To be maudlin, we never know when we’ll get the chance again.  Text it if you don’t want to say it out loud.  I can’t tell you how much I cherish the expressions of warmth, gratitude, and appreciation I’ve received from others.

6. Defend Each Other. That quote about what the silence of our friends hurting more than the words of our enemies comes to mind.  Oh, yes.  I’m watching this now with Grace, in 6th grade.  Sometimes we have to stick up for those we love, even if it means going against the easy current.  Do it.

7. Listen. Friendship is made of attention.  I believe this entirely.  I am still learning to listen without jumping in with suggestions, observations, reactions.  Just listen.  Pay attention.  Don’t be distracted.

8. Show Up. There are certain things you just show up for: weddings, funerals, christenings, big birthdays.  I regret missing some of these in the lives of some of those I love most, though I can honestly say the decision has never been a casual one.  Still.  Show up if you at all can.  It always means so incredibly much to me when others make the effort.

What are your thoughts on the most important things to remember about friendship?

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  1. Posted October 20, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Love this Lindsey – all of it, but especially number eight!

    admin Reply:

    Thank you! So glad you relate. xox

  2. Posted October 20, 2014 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    A wonderful list. (I, too, love a good list!) Funny, because I WAS thinking of you this morning, as I walked in the pitch dark at 6 am — was imagining you out running beneath the same starry sky, seeing that sliver of moon. So, how fitting that you’ve given me an opportunity to be in touch, and to say hello. Lovely post.

    admin Reply:

    I love that image! I often think of others who are up at the crack of dawn with me – that is its own kind of kinship. Hope to see you soon. xoxox

  3. Posted October 20, 2014 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    A beautiful list, Lindsey. I wholeheartedly agree. Though I must say: friendship does not come naturally to most people. I think our inborn tendencies are to look out for our own interests. So this list is really a treasure. It is truth. Thank you for expressing it here, posting it as a resource, and most of all for your friendship. xo

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much. I admit I’ve been thinking through this comment all day (and last night). I don’t know whether I agree about most, but I am not sure. I think a lot of people struggle with the really small things that are in fact the big ones. I’m routinely struck by how careless people can be, even when I intellectually know no harm is intended. Whether that comes out of their inherent self-interest, I’m not sure – I guess it must. I tell myself it’s ME who needs to stop taking things so seriously. And I try. Hard to do, though. xox

  4. Posted October 20, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I love this and especially the part about keeping in touch. It’s so easy to get lost/busy in our little lives that the big picture takes a backseat and it never should. xo

    admin Reply:

    Love what you say about little lives and big picture. And small efforts can be a big part of the larger whole, right? oxox

  5. Posted October 20, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    You’ve got something here, I think. I read this list this morning, a full 24 hours after meeting with someone in my life whom I think I was/am in danger of losing. For both of us, (though maybe one of us more than the other) we’ve failed to abide by these very rules, but particularly #s 4 and 8. It was a good rebooting, if you will, but I sense there is still some work to be done if it’s going to stand the test of time. And I’ve been thinking all day about this list, and how, on some level, it highlighted to me that maybe this particular friendship is or was not as deep as I’d imagined because some of these elements are lacking (which I also agree are vital). Something for me to ponder. But in any event, I just wanted to add a slightly different version of #5 which is this: be honest and tell the other person when you are hurting/confused by their (in)actions. It may very well right your collective course.

    admin Reply:

    SUCH a great point you make. Yes. Absolutely. It’s so easy to misconstrue the words or actions of others (especially in the era of text) and sometimes all it takes is a frank conversation to address that and prevent a veering off course. xoxo

  6. EtotheJ
    Posted October 20, 2014 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    I love this post, Lindsey and I am so glad I found you and your beautiful words (and one of my close friends is Lindsay, so forgive me if I ever type your name wrong due to habit)…

    I am at a point in my life where I am finding friendship REALLY hard. I don’t know if it is an early-twenties thing, a generational thing or what, but… friendship has been hard lately. And I love these suggestions.

    Recently, I’ve challenged myself with sending five “I love you” messages a day… either aloud or via text. Expressing that is something I struggle with, but there are people I love and I don’t think I tell them that enough, and I tense when they say it to me.

    “Keep in Touch”, “Listen” and “Show up” are definitely my favourites. Love languages. I would rather be mistreated than ignored and I don’t think I’m alone in that sentiment. And it is such minimal effort to avoid these feelings.

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much for this kind comment! (and don’t worry I answer to Lindsay too – that’s how everyone always spells it!). I love the idea of sending 5 messages of love a day – what a great way to prod ourselves to do that, even when it’s easy to forget or hard to do. xox

  7. Posted October 21, 2014 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Love this post and each tip/reflection is spot on. Just pinned the quote from Wonder from your page. It’s great!

  8. Posted October 21, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Ok! Sharing on Facebook too!

  9. Posted November 2, 2014 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    I love that you and Aidan are working together and to be honest, the friendship one has been hard for me to read. I am in a period where I don’t have many (maybe any??) friends who live less than 6 hours away and I have read these posts with a certain envy. So this reminder to be vulnerable and to be open and to trust has come at a good time. It’s so much easier for me to stay home than venture out and I really needed a mini-handbook on how to be a friend! Thanks!