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Building Good Relationships Through Friendship

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It was Hubert H. Humphery who said, “The greatest gift of life is friendships”. I totally agree with him. Friendship is a bond or feeling that unites two or more individuals. It a strong form of interpersonal connection. It is a relationship of mutual connection between people. When two people become friends, they are linked in a way that stirs up good or positive emotions like love, care, and trust between them. I’m not just talking about intimate relationships with the opposite sex. I’m referring to every form of friendship. The friendship you have with your best friend, classmates, mother, neighbor, father, pastor, boss, colleague, etc.

In case you are wondering, the relationship is the way two or more people are connected. It doesn’t have to be something special. It is simply a form of social connection or commitment. Relationships form the basis of social association. It simply means that two of you have something in common. There is something that made your paths cross. Perhaps something you both have to do together. Relationships vary from family or kinship relations, marriage, and relations with business associates, co-workers, classmates, schoolmates, neighborhoods, group/association members, and church members. Relationships may be regulated by law, custom, mutual agreement.

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For example, the relationship between you and your classmate or teacher is education. The relationship between you and your Pastor is religion. The relationship between you and your family is genetics. The relationship between you and your neighbor is a residential location. This are the things that made both parties connect with each other. Relationships are inevitable. As long as you are in this world you must connect with the people in the world. Our sojourn on earth leads to daily interactions with our fellow humans in one way or the other. Repeated interaction forms a relationship and consistent relationship leads to friendship.

It all works on the law of proximity. The law of proximity states that “Objects or people that are near each other tend to be grouped together”. It starts with a first meeting. Let’s say Mr. Njoku and Mr. Ade met at a job interview. Then an interaction ensues through a conversation. Mr. Njoku admires Mr. Ade’s tie. Mr. Ade responses with a smile or he could say, “Thank you. It was a gift from my wife”. They get talking; family life, job hunt experiences, possible interview questions, educational background, politics, sports, etc. Their conversation is interrupted by the HR personnel as the interview exercise commences. After the interview, they part ways. Weeks later, they report to the office, coincidently they were recruited after the interview. They are both delighted to see each other again and another conversation ensues. A relationship has been established as co-workers. As they both settle into their various job roles, they begin to fraternize. It works even faster if both are assigned to the same department. Human interaction is repeated several, office talk, exchange connects info, grouped in the same team on office projects, bump into each other at lunch, occasional free rides from both parties, etc. Soon friendship is built and it could even transcend to their families.

Does It Make Sense Now?

The two parties first come in to connect with each other. Then proximity is maintained to sustain interaction which eventually results in a friend. The physical closeness is an essential factor. That is what happens when neighbors become family friends. That is what happens when church brothers and sisters begin to catch a vision for each other. That is what happens when classmates become best friends. That is what happens when colleagues at work start catching feelings. However, not all relationships progress into friendship. Some siblings do not see eye to eye. Some children are afraid of each other. Some neighbors are always at loggerheads with each other. Some colleagues at work barely tolerate each other. Even sample couples cannot stand the sight of their spouses. Why?

It takes a whole lot more than attraction, communication, and interaction to build friendship. We shall further discuss that under the subheading “Building Great Relationships. First, let’s try to understand the different types of relationships so we do not get it twisted.

Romantic relationships: This is the most common form of relationship. In fact, it has coveted the word ‘relationship’ so much that whenever the word relationship is mentioned, people immediately think of love, passion, intimacy, cheesiness, and mushiness. It is that human connection that is established on the bases of love. This love comes in stages. It first starts as an attraction. You know that first thing you noticed about them that made your heart skip. This attraction could get you two talk then you realize.

“OMG! We have such good chemistry”. This chemistry is what some others like to refer to as “Compatibility”. You realize that every piece of the puzzle slips nicely into the right places. Contrary to popular opinion, it does not necessarily take two similar people for compatibility to occur. It could happen to two widely different people who seem like two parallel lines that can never meet. The only difference is that these parallel lines found a common ground in all their differences and then join to form an angle. This compatibility builds up until they get to the stage of commitment. This is the point where the bond is sealed and you can joyfully scream, “It’s official baby!”

Egalitarian/Platonic Friendship: This is the type of relationship that comes with the label “Just Friends”. It is a non-romantic relationship between the opposite sexes. It is a plain connection between a boy and a girl without any intention of getting intimate with each other. There is no form of physical, sexual, or emotional desire in this type of relationship. It’s like saying they ‘love’ each other but they are not ‘in love’ with each other.

Marital Relationship: Although a marital relationship is grouped under physical relationships, it is considered as the most important among family and social structures. It is the highest level of commitment and intimacy in a romantic relationship. It is the relationship that exists between a husband and wife. These two people have made their relationship permanent by a conjugal vow. Ideally, this type of relationship should last until death. A marital relationship is a more serious ball game that comes with a lot of responsibilities and changes that jointly affect the lives of the two people involved.

Familial Relationships: Family relationships are the bonds created among a group of people who share the same DNA. These sets of people are related by blood, marriage, or adoption. Family relationships can be divided into nuclear family relationships and extended family relationships. A nuclear family relationship is a connection you have with your immediate family members. It is the relationship between you and your mum, dad, and sibling(s). An extended family relationship is a relationship that exists between you and your distant relatives; uncle, aunt, cousin, nephew, niece, and grandparents. The parent-child relationship is the most important of all. It is that love that exists as a biological drive for survival and comfort on the child’s part. Family relationships play a profound role in biological, mental, physical, psychological, emotional, and social well-being. There is a saying, “Every child is a plain sheet. Whatsoever you write on him is what he will become”.

The family is a child’s first contact with humans. Anything he picks or absorbs from there could live with him all his life.

Business relationships: The business relationship is the connection between two or more entities that are engaged in commerce. It is the tie between players in the labor market. It could be a partnership between business owners, work relationships among colleagues in an organization or company, and the relationship between brands/ service providers and their customer relationships.

Relationships are dynamic in nature. They change continuously during their existence. Like living organisms, every relationship has a life cycle that is divided into; beginning, a lifespan, and an end. People either tend to grow and improve gradually, as they get to know each other and become closer emotionally, or they gradually deteriorate, drift apart, move on with their lives and form new relationships with other people. The natural cycle of a relationship is spitted into five stages:

Acquaintance and acquaintanceship: This is the connection that commences at the first meeting. It is similar to the association. If an attraction or admiration is established at the first meeting, continuous interaction may lead to friendship as they begin to trust and care for each other. Acquaintance can also be continued indefinitely. Becoming acquainted depends on previous relationships, physical proximity, first impressions, and a variety of other factors.

Continuation: This is the point where a friendship commences. It is generally a long, relatively stable period characterized by personal/collective growth and development. This stage follows a mutual commitment to building a strong and close long-term friendship, romantic relationship, or even marriage. Mutual trust is important for sustaining the relationship.

Deterioration: This is when there is trouble in paradise and everything goes south. Not all relationships deteriorate. When friendship is filled with betrayals, distrust, boredom, resentment, dissatisfaction, and poor communication, it is defiantly headed for the rocks. Sometimes the conflict is resolved and the friendship is restored. Other times, it falls completely apart.

Ending: This is the final stage that marks the end of the relationship, either by breakups, death or by spatial separation for quite some time and severing all existing ties of either friendship or romantic love. Terminating a marital relationship implies a divorce. Terminating a relationship is not always a bad thing. Sometimes, it restores your peace, sanity, emotional stability, self-esteem, dignity, self-worth, well-being, respect, confidence, joy, and happiness.

Building Good Relationships

As humans, we are naturally social creatures. We crave friendship and positive interactions, just as we do food and water. The relationships we get involved in affects us in many ways. If our relationships are healthy, we will also be healthy and productive. It takes a whole lot more than attraction, communication, and interaction to build a friendship. There are several other characteristics that makeup good, healthy relationships:

Trust: This is the foundation of every good relationship. When you trust your partner, you form a powerful bond that helps you grow and communicate more effectively. If you trust your friends, you can be open and honest in your thoughts and actions without the fear of being snitched. You don’t have to keep watching your back every time. Why on earth will you be friends with someone you do not feel safe with? That is self-sabotage if you ask me.

Mutual Respect: When you respect your friends, you value their principles and personality. You will accept them wholly for who they are without making insulting comments or actions to malign or ridicule them.

Mindfulness: This means taking responsibility for your words and actions. Those who are mindful are careful and deliberate with what they say or do so it does not hurt their friends negatively.

Welcoming Diversity: People with good relationships not only accept diverse people and opinions, but they welcome them. For instance, when your friend offers a different opinion from yours, you take the time to consider the validity of their views without getting unnecessarily worked up.

Open Communication: Communication is the bedrock of every human interaction. We communicate with people every day through the simple exchange of words. The better and more effectively you communicate with those around you, the richer your relationships will be. All good relationships depend on open, honest communication.

Tolerance: There is no man or woman on the surface of the earth that is completely perfect. We all have our weaknesses and imperfections. Your friends do and so do you. Make up your mind to tolerate and forgive their little misbehavior and personality flaws. Learn to ignore some insignificant offenses. You do not need to fret over everything.

Good relationships start with good people skills. You must develop your interpersonal skills. Learn and apply the concept of emotional intelligence when dealing with your friends. Identify your relationship needs. Look at your own relationship needs. Do you know what you need from others? And do you know what they need from you? Understanding these needs can be instrumental in building better relationships.

Be intentional about building your relationships. Devote a portion of your day toward relationship building, even if it’s just 20 minutes. Call to know how your friends are doing. Pay them a surprise visit at their work during lunch hour. Spend some time with them at home. Think of fun things you could do together. These seemingly little things help fasten the bond of your friendship. Be appreciative of their efforts towards building your relationship.

Genuinely compliment your friends. Don’t always put them down with your words and dismiss them as a joke. Never take them for granted. Always respect their boundaries. Manage your own boundaries too. Make sure that you set and manage boundaries properly so that your friend doesn’t take you for granted or monopolize our time. Focus on their good side while helping them fix their slip-ups. Positivity is attractive and contagious, and it will help strengthen your relationships. No one wants to be around someone who is negative all the time. Have an effective conflict resolution plan. If you and your friend are in a war zone, talk to them directly about the problem. Do not go slipping the word. Gossiping about the situation with other people will only exacerbate the matter and cause mistrust and animosity between you. Whatever you do, treat your friends right.

Friendship is the greatest gift of life because good friendship replenishes the soul.

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