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The Secret to Keeping Your Friendships Golden

Finding fulfillment when it seems like a friendship has gone wrong

            No man is an island. No woman for that matter. When something happens in our life, good or bad, we reach out to the friends closest to us to share these experiences and feel complete.  Your friends bring balance to your life; they are your sounding board, your confidante and your ultimate truth.

            Of course, what do you do when your friendship doesn't live up to that ideal? What if you feel like you're giving your friends everything that you have, but they aren't giving anything back? Does it seem like your "friendship quotient" is rolling back into the negatives because you're doing everything you can to be there for them, but they aren't there for you?

            Unfulfilling friendships can leave a huge hole in our lives, sometimes leaving us feeling as though we'd be better off if they weren't even there because it hurts too much to have them around and still feel empty. Before you throw in the towel, however, ask yourself the following questions:

Are you giving them the chance to be there for you?

            All too often in our quest to be the perfect woman, the perfect partner and the perfect friend we cut ourselves off from the support group we need to keep us going because we don't want to appear weak, or admit that we can't handle something on our own. Although the perfect friend would be a mind reader, remember that your friends are only human. They can't know that you need them if you don't let them know.
Are you expecting too much from them?

            While the human heart has an unlimited capacity for love, the human mind can only take so much. Before you cut your friends out of your life, think about what's going on in theirs. Are they going through a breakup or a divorce, struggling with a difficult pregnancy or swimming uphill at a new job? If your friend has a huge weight on their shoulders they may not be in a position to help you carry yours-no matter how much they may want to. That doesn't mean you shouldn't expect some give and take in your relationship, but you may need to cut them some slack every once in a while.
Do they even realize what they're doing?

            If you are the type of person who naturally reaches out and cares for the people around you, it is possible that your relationships will become very one sided, very quickly. Your friend may be so used to you always reaching out to them that they don't realize you need them to reach back. Sit down and have a heart to heart with your friend, letting them know that while you love them, you need them to be there for you every once in a while too. If they're a real friend they'll be horrified to realize you're feeling this way-and if they aren't, they weren't worth worrying about anyway.
Are you sharing the good times too?

            Sometimes a friendship can degenerate until it turns into a support group rather than a healthy, giving relationship. Don't misunderstand, it's important to be there for each other when the going gets rough, but it's equally important to be there when the days are bright and sunny too.  

            Fulfillment in a relationship requires you to embrace all the sides of yourself and your friend, not just the ones on the surface. That's what friendship is-after all, you don't become friends with every person you meet. A friend is a precious commodity, and you can never have too many. Before you throw in the towel, try working things out. You might be surprised to find that your friend has been feeling the same way you have, and the two of you will walk away with a deeper, richer relationship.


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