Relationships are a crucial part of life – especially if you are recovering from a major issue in your life such as depression, an eating disorder, or an addiction. During this process, it’s important to evaluate the relationships in your life to weed out any toxic relationships, and also determine if you have enough relational support around you.
In today’s social media-saturated world, no analysis of relationships would be complete without proper attention to the criteria for your friends—online and off. If you are engaged in online relationships that you consider to be prominent sources of support and companionship—lending them as much weight as you would any offline friendship—do yourself a favor and be sure to hold the relationship to the same standards you should expect of anyone you call a real friend.
Below is a list of descriptors for determining the strength of friendships, online and off:
Trust: Friends trust each other because each has proven to be trustworthy. When tempted to betray the friendship in some way, they have held fast to the needs and feelings of the other person.
Honesty: One of the hallmarks of true friendship is living within an atmosphere of truth. This truth, however, is not a harsh, brutal presentation but one done in love, compassion, and tenderness. To a friend, the truth is not a weapon it is a balm. There is safety in the honest words of a friend, even when those words hurt.
Understanding: True friends understand each other. They know the background and context of each other’s lives. They know the what of things, but they also know the why of things. Friends know which way the other will jump and how far.
Acceptance: Friends understand the precarious positions they put themselves in by being a friend. Proximity sometimes equates to pain where human beings are concerned; friends acknowledge this pain as an acceptable consequence of the friendship.
Mutual benefit: True friends add to each other’s lives. Often the benefit isn’t always equal, but it is mutual. True friends monitor the relationship to ensure there is both give and take, refusing to allow it to become chronically one sided and draining.
Sacrifice: There are times when friendship calls for sacrifice. It can be a sacrifice of time, money, energy, resources—a reordering of priorities to put the needs of friendship first.
Affection: At the heart of all friendships should be genuine affection one for the other. Friends enjoy each other; they like to be together because of the way they feel about each other.
This is not to say you should discount any relationship that does not live up to these standards. It is simply a means putting such a relationship in perspective. Especially during times of difficulty, it is important to have a support system of friends around you. At The Center • A Place of HOPE, we take time to address all aspects of a person’s life as part of our holistic approach, including a person’s social system. If you believe you are in need of recovery support, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a recovery specialist today.
Excerpts of this blog were taken from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Turing Your Down into Up: A Realistic Plan for Healing from Depression.