Conflict With Your (Girl)friends
Almost exactly a year ago, I lost a friendship that was very dear to me. It was my first time “breaking up” with a girlfriend as an adult and I spontaneously teared up for almost half a year.
Today, I feel true peace and healing about this loss. Though I felt devastated for many months, it was clear it would have been unhealthy to salvage the friendship in the long run. However, an uncountable number of therapy sessions prompted to me to ask more questions around conflict with my girlfriends. Sure, I’ve had annoyances with friends – but how did I approach it and was my intention to strengthen the friendship or take a stab based on my own insecurities? And secondly, what do I do with friends who don’t positively contribute to my life? Are they worth my time? How do I let go without unintentionally hurting others?
Food for Thought and I’d love more feedback as well!
– When a friend approaches me with issues they have with me, is it their stuff or mine? Have I done the work in my life to sort out and take responsibility for things I can get better at?
– Am I able to reach out to trusted friends and ask if they can give me honest feedback about said accusations? Can I handle the truth if they agree and say so?
– Am I able to apologize and take ownership? Do I have the strength and energy to work on these issues with my friend? Is this friendship worth my time?
– If, through therapy, healthy relationships and personal reflection I realize these aren’t my problems, but my friend’s issues, do I have the communication skills and confidence to protect my character and kindly give these issues back to her? If not, how do I gain confidence and assertive skills?
– If I have a problem with a friend and want to talk about it, can I give them the courtesy of working in counseling to ensure it’s not my own stuff first?
– Can I give this friend the respect by talking to them about conflict in person, versus e-mail, text or social media?
– Am I respectful of this friend and do not badmouth her to others, especially mutual friends?
– Do I have the resiliency to let go, forgive, love and heal? Do I genuinely wish this person all the best with life, love and family?
Just a few weeks ago, another friend approached me with issues she felt existed in our relationship. Instantly, I identified I was responsible, and apologized and took ownership. What was different this time? 1) it was my stuff and not someone else’s; 2) a year of wrestling with relational conflict in therapy gave me new tools to address problems with friends; 3) I felt more confident about my personal weaknesses and strengths; 4) this friendship contributed positively to my life and was, therefore, worth extra time and energy.
Don’t get me wrong – I still make mistakes with friendships and I can take complete ownership for not acting on the questions above. As women, we have a bad reputation for gossip, slander, cattiness, being two-faced and so much more. Let’s confront this deeply rooted stereotype by taking action! Let’s confront the people we have conflict with in person versus passively complaining about the problem to others. Let’s enact kindness, graciousness and forgiveness. Let’s love each other with authenticity and gusto.
What can you do today to be a better girlfriend?