Not long ago, I published an article about six qualities to admire in others, and the response was extraordinary. I prefaced the article by saying that the six I mentioned were by far not an exhaustive list, but included those traits that seemed especially hard to find. In reading all of the comments, however, I was inspired to write a follow-up list that covers some of the other qualities that I, as well as others, believe to be important when looking for friendships and relationships with others.
Our relationships are vital to our mental well-being. However, toxic relationships can really do a number on our happiness and outlook on life. As a result, it is important to look for individuals who possess qualities that allow for healthy relationships. Although, once again, not an exhaustive list, the qualities listed below are those that should be at the very heart of a healthy relationship. And, just as you would expect your friend, family member or loved one to display these qualities, it is just as important to reciprocate.
- Loyalty: Whether it's in friendships or in family, loyalty is truly important to maintain a healthy relationship. All of us are guilty, at one time or another, of making mistakes, having ups and downs, and even displaying some behavior that we may not always be proud of. When we find friends or loved ones who can forgive us and stand by us…even during our worst moments…we should be especially grateful. That said, loyalty should never be taken for granted and we should always be deeply appreciative when it comes our way.
- Respect: I once knew an individual who was very opinionated about political topics. She would talk down to people who disagreed with her and would be very disrespectful. Not only did she make people feel stomped on, but she left many disinterested in friendship. Treating others with kindness and the respect they deserve is important in gaining the respect that WE desire. It never feels good to be taken for granted, judged or used and it doesn't feel good to be talked down to or treated rudely or inappropriately. There will be times that we may not always have full agreement with our friends or loved ones, but respecting them along the way is a must.
- Unconditionally There: There is nothing worse than having someone always resurface in your life when they are in need, are looking for something or need a favor. In a culture of "you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours," it is somewhat rare to find those "who just scratch your back," period. Finding individuals who want you in their lives just because…and not because they want something in return is refreshing and worth holding on to. Those who are generous of heart are to be treasured!
- Trustworthy: I once worked with a woman who, within my first week on the job, felt the need to tell me all of the intimate details of the various extra-marital affairs that had occurred with the management of the firm. She was supposedly friends with these people and I have no doubt, was told this information in the most strictest of confidences. How she felt it was appropriate to divulge this information to a new-hire like me, I still have no idea. But, it was her nature to gossip about everyone and everything. If you share something in confidence, you should be able to trust that the information will remain that way.
- A Genuine Sounding Board: Taking a genuine interest in what others have to say and really listening to someone is important in developing solid relationships. Letting go of the "me, me, me" and focusing on the other person not only makes the other person feel valued and appreciated, but they feel that they can really talk to someone who cares. Those who take the time to really listen to our thoughts and feelings, and then help us work through difficult times and situations, share our lives at a much deeper level than those who don't. These are individuals worth hanging on to.
- Dependability: I had a friend who frequently would RSVP to small gatherings and then would never show. They never explained…never brought it up…and never apologized. Although this example is somewhat trivial, it still makes the point. Obviously there are times when things come up that prevent individuals from following through on what they promise, but if a friend, co-worker or family member perpetually drops the ball, they may be sending you a message. If a friend says they are going to do something or be somewhere, you should be able to count on them. And, in reciprocation, they you.
What traits do you look for in a friend or partner? Are your relationships healthy?
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