Friends–Your Friendship Manifesto

Part 1 (Why You Need Friends More Than Ever) in our Friendship Series debuted in early December. Your Friendship Manifesto is part 2.

Why a Friendship Manifesto?

To define what is important to you in your friendships–saving you wasted energy and emotion in friendships that won’t fulfill you.

But first, take a quick minute to review some of my resources for getting to know yourself in this post. In a bit, I’ll apply those needs to friendship.

Now, let’s rewind a moment to a recent prompt on Facebook asking friends to comment about how friendships have changed since parenthood. Lemme tell you–there were LOTS of feelings. People without kids also chimed in, and I couldn’t be more happy about that.

Why is friendship in parenthood (& adulthood) so hard?

  • The energy required to relate to friends who have or don’t have children.
  • The energy required to do the same activities as friends who have or don’t have children.
  • Changes in schedules due to having or not having kids.
  • Changes in your life and your friends’ lives leading to feelings of insecurity, causing “retreat”.
  • Hardships within parenting, or the trial of not being blessed to be a parent (should you desire it), leading to feelings of anxiety or depression, causing “retreat”.
  • Differences in emotional depth becoming more apparent.
  • Differences in schedules due to kids activities or kids ages or work or hobbies.
  • Inabilities to do the same activities with others due to finances, distance between you, etc..
  • Not seeing someone regularly puts her out of your mind.
  • Difficulty planning in advance when kids or work are all over you–so you miss out on activities with others.
  • Differences in energy.
  • Differences in desire to go out with or to stay at home with friends (extroversion vs. introversion).
  • Differences in weight given to topics (work or kids) in conversation.
  • Feeling like you don’t bring anything to the table, because your identity is based on your kids or employment.
  • Feeling like you need to talk about things other than your kids or job….AND SO ON!

Obviously, we’re all far from being alone in these feelings.

Friendships should be different for everyone.

What we individually need from our friendships is different. The tricky part is being OK with being different. Such a concept is a life long struggle, but not one that’s generally applied to the realm of friendship. Let me explain, using myself as an example.

I’m a predominant Red personality, followed up heavily with Yellow. Essentially, I’m extroverted and driven almost equally by control and fun. I also crave variety. I stay at home with young children–ages 5 and 3 years old, and 5 months old. I no longer work full time. Based on these facts and other self-knowledge, my Friendship Manifesto is:

Time with friends (without my kids or spouse) is essential to my happiness.

I need to frequently leave my house–where control feels less attainable.

Planning and executing outings without my kids makes me feel in control.

Having friends who regularly speak about things beyond their kids and/or work is important to me.

I want my friends to be down to do stuff without kids or partners on occasion.

I like spending time with friends who enjoy being spontaneous and having silly fun.

I want to put more energy into maintaining friendships with people who meet at least two of these needs.

I will not compare my needs for friendship to others’ needs as a  determination of whether or not I have “successful” friendships.

What I need is not wrong for me, even if it differs from what you need. It’s so simple and clear. Yet, why do we waste so much time wondering if people with different needs like us, or fretting about not being included in certain groups of people who may have different needs that perhaps we can’t meet?

I struggle, too.

I admit that I have at times wondered why an acquaintance will invite others to her home for events, but not me, despite how well we seem to get along when we are at events to which we both are invited. But when I see the types of activities that this person is hosting at her house (via social media), they aren’t even the type of things that I prefer to do with my friends. So why am I bothered by it? FOMO, fear of being not good enough, fear of not being liked by EVERYONE (a Yellow struggle), etc.. I also have to ask myself, “Have I extended myself to her to see if we could be friends?” Probably not enough… which means, I probably don’t care enough to seek a friendship. One of both parties need to make a move. Friendships don’t always just materialize out of thin air–though when it does happen like that, it ROCKS! Brityn is one such friend–love her! How to Make Friends will be part 3 of the Friendship Series.

The bottom line, and a personal goal for 2018, is that I don’t want to waste my time worrying about a lukewarm friendship with someone who isn’t going to meet my individual friendship needs. There’s just not enough time, energy and emotion.

Will you make a Friendship Manifesto to see where you need to put your energy in 2018? I would love to hear thoughts about this hot topic in the comments. Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve written? How so? Please keep all comments constructive.

Stay tuned for more posts in the Friendship Series. Posts coming on how to make friends, how to keep them, how to see them, and whatever else seems relevant.