How often do you stop to assess your relationships? Think about what you want out of them? Think about what you’re giving? Think about how – or if – you’re asking for what you want and need?
I use a four-square model to capture relationships. The categories are comforters, cheerleaders, critics and confronters. I try to have at least two people in each category and no one in more than one role. That’s not to say that these roles define my friendships, merely that these are my go-to people in certain circumstances. Cheerleaders provide unconditional support. Comforters are judgement-free shoulders to cry on. Critics are logical and able to help you develop plans. Confronters are ready to give you a swift kick when you aren’t living up to what you said you would do.
I try to check my relationships at least twice a year. It’s not about keeping score, more about being sure that my friends and I are getting what we need from each other. Like any garden, sometimes my friendship garden needs a bit of weeding.
Some relationships have withered due to inattention. Do I want to revive them or is it time to let them go? Some have become one-sided. Do I need to give more to this person or do I need to ask for what I need? Am I willing to have the frank, difficult conversation that might lead to change? Am I willing to accept that the relationship will never change and perhaps should go?
It’s always sad to lose a friendship. But, then, perhaps there was really nothing there anyhow. Perhaps the effort is – for one or both of us- more than we can handle right now. The core question becomes whether the cost of letting go is greater than the cost of hanging on.
Weeding is good. It leaves space for solid relationships to flourish. It leaves room for something new.
How is your garden growing?