I’m starting a new series on my blog called “Ask Hamy” where I ask for people’s questions regarding specific topics and hopefully, offer some advice in the process. As you can see from the title, the first post in this series will be featuring the topic of friendships. Disclaimer: I’m not an expert. All of these answers are just based on my own life experiences.
The questions I’m answering in this blog were collected from my Instagram story. If you would like to be a part of my next “Ask Hamy” blog post, make sure you follow me on Instagram @iamhamyhuynh. Without any further shameless self plugging, let’s get started!
“What do you value in a friendship?”
While it may differ for everyone, I think the things I seek in friendship come down to a core set of values: trust, respect, support, and kindness.
At the base of every relationship, whether it be between friends, lovers, teammates, or whomever, the foundation of trust needs to be laid out and built firmly in order for the relationship to be strong. I believe friends should try their best to have each other’s best interests at heart without malicious intentions or hidden agendas. When you have trust, honesty and loyalty should come naturally.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been friends for an hour or 10 years, I think respect needs to be present in a friendship for it to sustain. I would definitely follow the golden rule of treating others the way you want to be treated when it comes to friendships. Respect feelings by making them feel validated. Respect time by showing up and being present. Respect boundaries by continuing to address and redraw them as needed. Although I will say that treating others how you want to be treated might not always work in instances where you’re either giving too much or taking too much. If that’s the case, you need to respectfully address the issue to the best of your abilities and figure out the next steps together.
Supporting one another means actively listening for the sake of listening and not to respond. It means being present for them when they need you. It also means calling them out when they’re practicing toxic behaviors. The most important aspect of supporting a friend is supplying them with your time and energy if you can afford to do so.
Handling each other with care and kindness is essential to forming a healthy friendship. Sometimes people take each other for granted and over time, the kindness that used to be present starts to falter. If you find yourself being unkind to your friends or vice versa, it’s time to sit down and talk about how you’re feeling as soon as possible so boundaries can be addressed and redrawn. Handling each other with kindness takes a lot of grace and may also mean dealing with conflict, but if you can do it in a healthy manner, the friendship will only get stronger.
“What tensions have you held from falling out of a friendship? How have you built resiliency?”
Something I’ve learned over the course of my life is that friendships will have falling outs for numerous reasons: someone moves, you outgrow each other, it suddenly fizzles, or in the worst case, there’s a toxic conflict that can’t seem to be resolved. I’ve lost friendships due to all of these reasons. It always sucks when people leave your life, but I’m a big believer that things always happen for a reason.
In my experience, falling out with friends when you move, it suddenly fizzles or you outgrow each other is very natural and there isn’t a “we’re not friends anymore” talk that comes with it. Everyone just gets to move on with their lives and make new friends. But if there’s a toxic conflict that breaks up a friendship, it can come with a lot of emotional trauma that needs to be processed. That was the case with my most recent falling out. I’ve had to learn how to be okay with being uncomfortable and develop strong coping mechanisms to deal with the feeling of being anxious. It takes a lot of time, tears, and trying to become better. But like I said before, at the end of the day, everything happens for a reason. Sometimes people were meant to come into your life to learn from you and to teach you lessons, and then leave. It’s not your fault that the friendship couldn’t last forever and it’s also not their fault. You will both be able to go your separate ways and grow into who you were supposed to be, and I think that realization is what allowed me to build resiliency.
“How do you reach out to your friends without feeling like you’re being a burden on them?”
Ugh. This definitely used to be me so I can relate to you! As harsh as this sounds if you’re feeling like you’re being a burden on your friends, that emotion is really on you and isn’t their problem. I’ve learned that if you’re the one feeling like a burden, it’s your responsibility to take ownership of that emotion and address it. Why do you feel like you’re a burden? What’s the real root of the problem here? If you can identify why you’re feeling this way, it might help. In my case, I used to feel like I was being a burden on my friends because I’m the type of person that HATES asking for help. I wanted to appear strong and to be “the older sister” to my friends because I was the oldest. It shouldn’t matter what age you are or what role you play in your friendship because when you need support, you need support. Friends shouldn’t feel like their friends are burdening them because if they did, none of us would have friends. A good way to reach out to your friends is by asking them if they have some time and energy to meet up with you or to talk to you. As long as you know they have the capacity to offer you some support, I think it will make you more at ease to reach out.
“How do you maintain a friendship after one of you enters a romantic relationship?”
If you’re the one who entered the romantic relationship, it’s important to be aware of how much time you’re spending, not only between your friends and significant other, but also on yourself, your priorities, and your family. For anyone who has ever been in a relationship, I’m sure you’ve felt this way at some point, where you’re just trying to balance out all of the aspects in your life. It’s hard to juggle all of these things because they’re all important to you. But trust me, over time, it’s going to get easier with practice and awareness. Please be aware of whether you’re still being a good friend to those around you. While you might feel like there’s not enough time for everything going on in your life, you need to make time for those who make time for you and treasure the people who matter to you. Make sure you show your friends how much you appreciate them.
If you’re the one who isn’t in a relationship, I think there’s something we should address. At some point or another, your friend is likely going to enter a romantic relationship and if they choose to do so, they’re going to get married. And so will you if you choose to! But pursuing romance shouldn’t change the essence of your friendship. You’re still friends. You still support each other. You still love each other just as much as before. Nothing has changed other than you gaining a new friend through them (their significant other). Just because they’ve gotten into a relationship doesn’t mean that they will suddenly not need you anymore. What they need from you right now is your support and understanding. Support their happiness and understand that they’re constantly trying to balance all of these different aspects of their life. Try not to make it about you and take it personally because while you are their friend, their world shouldn’t have to revolve around you. But if they suddenly became a really bad friend to you after entering a relationship, it’s okay to call them out on it. Tell them how you feel by using “I statements” while making sure you’re not attacking them nor their relationship.
“How do you know who your real friends are?”
I think all of us are constantly trying to figure this out whether we’re five or 95. Friends will come and go. It’s the people who choose to make an effort to be present in your life that are your real friends. Do they treat you with respect? Support you when you need them? Make an effort to be kind? Are they trustworthy and look out for your best interests? If you’ve answered yes to all of these questions, you probably have yourself a “real friend”. Conflicts will also happen in healthy friendships, but if they make an effort to resolve conflicts together with you while being respectful and treating you with care, you also have a “real friend” by your side. It’s not easy to identify who your people are, but try to remember that it’s about the quality of those you surround yourself with and not the quantity.
That’s it for today’s post! If you have a topic for the next “Ask Hamy” post, let me know by commenting below or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to ask me a question, make sure to follow me on Instagram @iamhamyhuynh and keep up with my story updates!