Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of friends. Not as many as people thought I did anyway.
Some of it was because we moved around a lot and just as soon as I would make a friend, I would lose one too. So what was the point of getting to know someone if you were going to a different school the following year? And when you are 8 years old, your friends are more important than just about anything else.
Finally, after living in the same town for about 8 years, I made some friends — and people knew my name. Most likely, because I was involved in a lot of things — playing 3 sports in high school, taking Honors classes, nominated for Homecoming Queen, President of a club, and a slew of other things that I did. To most, I was what you would call “popular.”
Now, after almost 30 years later, I have learned a few things about friendship. Some of it was learned the hard way, and other parts were pretty easy.
One of the best things I learned was the words friends need to say to one another to keep up that level of closeness. Because, let’s be honest…we are all going to hurt the ones we love most and the friendships that withstand not just the test of time, but the mistakes we all make only survive because there is an understanding of what matters most. Sharing these 6 phrases will keep the best friendships intact, weathering the toughest roads of life along with celebrating the greatest moments too.
- “I need you” This one is very easy to say to a friend, but extremely difficult if you are the one saying it. Many times, we don’t want to burden someone else with our troubles so we just handle it on our own. We don’t share the bad moments that turn into bad days and we pretend that we are made of stone. We become so hardened and determined to move forward without help that acknowledging it can crush our pride. Personally speaking, I viewed “needing someone” as a sign of weakness. But just someone being there, drying my tears, and giving some of my load to someone else has made all the difference in the world.
- “Can you forgive me?” Let me just say this…asking for forgiveness is extremely difficult, especially if we have really damaged someone else’s trust in us. At times, our mistakes aren’t even noticeable and other times, they leave a hole bigger than anything we can imagine. The best friendships will survive even when these words are never said — because they don’t need to be. No judgement is passed, no blame is assigned, no penalty is given. Forgiveness is automatic. Nothing else needs to be said. Saying even, “I’m sorry” is pointless — they are always unnecessary.
- “Ask me” We hesitate asking a friend to go to lunch, to go shopping, or even on vacation. Especially if it is something you have never done together before — you don’t want to push the envelope too far too soon. But our fear of rejection and prejudging an answer that technically hasn’t even been given a chance yet shuts this phrase down every time. The best friendships never have to say this about the smallest of questions (like, “Where do you want to meet for dinner?”) to something more meaningful and poignant (like, “Will you be the Executor of my Estate?”) People naturally assume that the answer is “no” instead of finding out for sure. Just ask.
- “Let’s do it!” Too often, we focus on the stuff we need to get done in our daily lives and put the friendship on hold. Every once in a while, you just need to get away from everything else and you just need to go — without an agenda or anything else that will dictate how the day will go. But, in the end, what do we miss most? The chances we never took, the trips never experienced, the moments never shared, the memories never made. Living life begins when we choose to share it with the people we love the most — and forgetting what we should be doing. Sometimes, it can be something as simple as ordering dessert first and drinking beer on a beautiful sunny Monday afternoon.
- “Do you remember…..?” Speaking of memories, revisiting the past and reliving some of your good (and even your not-so-good) moments connects the two of you. There are things that only you remember and only you appreciate. Some of those snapshots will bring tears, but many will bring lots of laughs and smiles. Those little glimpses into the past become parts of the story you write together and even the lessons learned from those reflections serve their purpose. Inside jokes are much more fun telling more than once anyway. As you age, you will need both of you to remember things anyway!
- “I love you” I know this one goes without saying, but people will sometimes shortcut this to “Love ya!” or “Love you too!” but say these three phrases and you tell me which one sounds the best. “I love you” is a commitment…a promise…a declaration. It tells the other person what your heart feels and as your friendship manifests itself, it is important that they just not hear those words, but that your actions show the same sentiment. Telling someone what they mean to you can be difficult — you can stumble over your words, with your hands trembling, but in the end, when it is all said and done, you will want just one more chance for them to hear those words again.
To some, these phrases might be rather easy and to others, they might feel like they are going to choke on them. I know which ones are more difficult for me, but I never am intimidated by them.
Some things just need to be said.
Just as they need to be heard.
Take a quick look at your best friendship(s) and ask yourself when you last used these 6 phrases. If it’s been a while, it’s time to let more of yourself go and give who you are to someone else. It’s time to be a little vulnerable and put the walls down. It’s time to let someone be “all in.”
Saying these few simple words to the person/people you are closest to connects you even more. Because those words mean something and those friendships makes life better…in every way.
Michelle A. Homme 2016 ©