You’ve started out on this big adventure at university and are making new friendships along the way. Everyone has had a different journey to get here: maybe you had a nomadic childhood with new friends in every new city or grew up with your best friend next door. But now you’re collectively navigating new ways of meeting people in unfamiliar territory.
Healthy friendships come in all shapes and sizes but there are some common threads in relationships that shows that they are happy, healthy, and supportive.
Communication. Listening and acknowledging other people’s feelings. Disagreements will happen but open and calm conversations can lead to resolution and the ability to move forward. If you’re finding it tricky, a calm and impartial third party can help.
Setting and accepting boundaries. Accept that others will have different views and treat everyone with respect.
Honesty and trust. These are vital for friendships to flourish where all parties are equal and respected.
Mutual respect and support. You can absolutely have your own thoughts and opinions, but accept these may differ to people around you. Offer support and discuss calmly over decisions that need to be made. Never, ever, forget to #BeKind.
All relationships require work on both sides. Put the effort in, and you will reap the rewards.
Some friendships will come more naturally than others, some will pass by and some will last a lifetime. But how can you tell if a friendship is unhealthy and what can you do about it?
Not showing respect. Good friends should listen without judgement and show an interest without ignoring the other’s needs
Unhealthy disagreements. Constant arguing, belittling, failing to resolve issues and the inability to say sorry can turn a friendship into an emotionally turbulent environment that you are best out of. If the cons outweigh the pros, it’s probably best to move on.
Saying hurtful things. Having a good laugh is a great basis for many friendships, but if this crosses a line and becomes hurtful or embarrassing to you or anyone around you, then it’s time to call a halt. Don’t give people power to hurt or humiliate you, and don’t do the same to others. You’re worth more.
Control rather than support. Everyone is different with their own comfort zones and ideas of what constitutes a good time. No friend should control another’s thoughts or feelings. If you don’t feel comfortable, it should be okay to do what you need.
Jealousy. This can be a negative reaction to your own achievements and successes, or a controlling element over other friendships. You may have a wide circle of friends and should not feel pressured into one friendship that monopolises at the expense of others.
Honest and open communication is the only way to resolve issues within friendship groups. Keep it respectful but be clear about your own boundaries. Focus on what you want in the future and how to move forward. A true friend will listen and work with you, and vice versa.
Remember these situations are temporary and not forever. But if things cannot be resolved then put you own mental health and well-being first. Do what makes you happy, spend time with people who make you feel good, take time for yourself and find someone that you can talk to when needed.