By Michael Fehlauer
Long-term healthy relationships are possible. There are fundamental skills, as well as a perspective in the way we approach our relationships, that enable us to experience solid friendships. The people we allow into our world either add to our lives or subtract from our lives. What are the characteristics of the type of friends that add to us? Here are six attributes of great friends:
1. They allow the friendship to be governed by the law of love – Three characteristics of love are acceptance, understanding and commitment. The opposite of these is judgment, rejection and manipulation.
When your friends love conditionally, their hope is that your desire for their acceptance will be strong enough to cause you to change your behavior. Inadvertently, they are manipulating you to strive for their acceptance.
2. They are secure enough to celebrate your worth - Great friends are secure in their own worth which gives them the liberty to celebrate your worth and accomplishments. The kind of friends that add to your life aren’t driven by jealousy, but will always encourage you to achieve your fullest potential.
3. They speak words of faith - I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Most of us can remember times when we have been subjected to hurtful words, careless comments or have been victims of gossip. We know how painful those times can be. Real friends communicate words of encouragement, hope and faith.
4. They perform unconditional acts of kindness – Another mark of healthy relationships are ones where acts of service don’t come with a price tag. Genuine friends refuse to guilt others in order to get their way. True friends extend themselves without expecting something specific in return.
5. They are patient – Patience is the willingness to bear pain. We all have our weaknesses and imperfections. Patience is the ability to bear the weaknesses of others. Healthy friends will focus on your strengths and patiently bear your weaknesses.
6. They don’t bring up the past – A final characteristic of healthy relationships are those friends who don’t make it a habit of saying, “I told you so.” These friends never use your past to get the upper hand in the relationship. True friends don’t keep a record of offenses or mistakes in your relationship. Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “A man is entitled to be valued by his best moments.”
You may read these six points and long for the kind of friends described here. I want to suggest instead of making your goal to have those kinds of friends, decide rather that you are going to be that kind of friend. If you will do that, you’ll have no shortage of healthy relationships.
Michael Fehlauer has been married to Bonnie over 30 years. They have experienced both the height of success and the devastation of failure. As a result, Michael Fehlauer and Bonnie Fehlauer have a strong desire to see the same healing they have experienced happen in the lives of others. Michael Fehlauer and Bonnie Fehlauer have traveled extensively throughout the world holding marriage and family conferences.
Their focus is to bring hope to hurting people by offering solid solutions to the mindsets that result in self-destructive behaviors which chip away at the very foundation of our relationships.
Michael Fehlauer is the author of Life Without Fear and Exposing Spiritual Abuse. Michael and Bonnie reside in Corpus Christi, Texas.