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What is Friendship? Part 3
May 20, 2009 @ 11:28 AM
Friendship is Mutual.

Most women enter every friendship looking for this one quality. We want to be friends with people who make us feel good about ourselves, who communicate that they want to be with us and who remind us that we have value. We don't want to be the one that likes them more than they like us. Mutuality is a cornerstone of friendship. You don't have a friendship if it only goes one-way.

We're looking this week at the four qualities of friendship that Dr. Paul Dobranksy suggests define friendship. Yesterday it was consistency.

Today it is mutuality, the second quality of friendship.
Unfortunately, our own insecurities often prevent us from making new friends because most of us prefer the other person to prove they like us before we're willing to show the same respect. You've probably seen, or heard about the book/movie He's Just Not That Into You. We're told in romance, to some degree, to let the other take the lead. If they're interested-- let them show it. They like the chase. It's their job to take the initiative. And so the voices go.

But what about in a friendship? Is it always her job instead of mine? And most of us would resound with "no." But you've seen this happen one too many times:

We meet someone we like, someone that impresses us or relates to us and we casually say "We should get together sometime!"

What we typically mean with that statement is: "Do you like me too? Am I worth your time? Would you be interested in getting to know me?"

But what the recipient often hears is: "She doesn't have time or she just wants to be polite... but basically she's brushing me off." And so her response can often reflect her own insecurities by saying "Yeah, sounds good. We should get together sometime."

And while it all sounded polite, warm and showed interest on both sides-- the truth is that this short conversation can often mean the end of a relationship before it even begins. Which is unfortunate, because chances are they were both open to building that consistency we talked about yesterday. They both wanted it to be more, but neither one of them came out and said what each of them wished the other had said: "Oh I'd love to get together again-- how does next Wednesday or Thursday look for you? Shall we do dinner? Here or there?"

Their vague attempt at mutuality left it unclear who's side of the court the ball was now in. So it ended where it began with no one actually ever being clear that they hoped for more. Our fear of putting ourselves out there and asking for mutuality at a higher level, prevents us from fostering friendships.

Many of us have had friendships end because a pattern was developed where only one person showed consistency. And some of us are willing to do that for certain reasons, during certain times, but most of us will at some point think "Why am I always the one calling her? I wonder how long it would take for her to call me if I didn't initiate?" And those friendships frequently fizzle. Not because any big fight happened. Not because either of them didn't like the other. Not because they weren't good people. Not because they didn't both appreciate the friendship. Simply because it wasn't mutual.

Mutuality isn't only having mutual feelings of positivity for the other person. It's taking mutual initiative. It's measured in action. It has to be, since they can't read our minds. It's being willing to say to someone else that they are worth our thought and time to initiate in the friendship.

Our Mutuality Challenge:
1. Growing Myself as a Friend: When you meet new people, are you able to show up in such a way that you can communicate interest and value in the other? How can you help contribute to the consistency that relationship needs in order to grow? Is there anyone who has taken initiative with you where now you need to take a turn? What can you do this week with someone you've met that would prove to you that you believe relationships rely on mutuality?

2. Fostering Friendships: List your friends. Then do three things on that list of names. First, put a check mark next to the friends you feel that you take most of the initiative in those relationships. Second, put an x next to the ones where, in honesty, you recognize that for whatever reason-- they probably do most of the calling and inviting. Finally, circle the ones where you truly think it feels mutual. What did you learn? How do you feel about the names where you take most of the initiative? Do they feel like real friendships to you? Why do you not initiate with the others? Are those relationships that need to be re-evaluated? What do you wish could be changed when you look at this list?

Here's to Friendships that are Consistent AND Mutual!

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