Shortly after writing the Salvaging and Starting Over blog post, I reached out to a mixed group of friends, colleagues, and relatives with the hopes of improving the quality of some of my relationships. Here is the list of questions I asked:
1. How often would you like to catch up/what methods work best?
2. The main things you want to talk about when we catch up
3. If you prefer that I just listen and acknowledge your words and/or emotions rather than giving advice/offering support/trying to relate by sharing my own experiences if you do not specifically ask me to
4. If you would like us to focus on a short-term relationship rather than a long-term one
5. What questions you have for me
I asked each person to reply within the next three months and also communicated that no answer was an answer... The purpose of my questions was for each of us to have an opportunity to get a better understanding of where we were in the relationship (or maybe decide if there was even a relationship or not), discuss what we want out of friendship (friendship and relationship were not synonymous), and eventually agree on the communication method/how often we preferred to keep in contact… All with the hopes of improving the quality of the individual relationship. 71% of those I reached out to replied. I received a negative response from 14% of those I reached out to. 14% of people I reached out to asked me the questions back. This process resulted in 29% of relationships being positively impacted and strengthened as a result of my reaching out. Two things to note:
1. My question about short term vs. long term relationships threw some people off. However, I have spent enough time with people that are different from me to understand that some just want to have a relationship within certain contexts, for a short period of time, or on their own terms. This is why they choose not keep in contact or initiate.
2. One thing that stood out to me is that friendship is a mutual decision, especially as we get older. This means that if you do not understand (or care about) how someone you consider a close friend actually views friendship or you are not willing to meet them halfway, then the relationship is just one sided/you are only focused on what you want (and vice versa). This is not friendship, even though there may be some kind of relationship that exists.
This was somewhat of a stressful process for me but it was needed and very helpful for my peace of mind/mental health. The things I enjoyed the most were getting to have a conversation(s) and learn about the other person, while making myself follow through on bringing things full circle/sharing my perspective even when I wasn't asked for it.
This blog series is focused on Life Change.
Questions for the ponderer? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org