As the song says, “Everybody needs somebody, sometimes.”
No matter how independent you are, much of your success and happiness depends on the quality of your relationships. When you have people you can trust and confide in, your perspective on life improves. However, these same relationships can lead to big disappointments when people let you down. That’s why it’s important that we honestly assess how strong our relationships actually are.
How can you be sure that your relationship is built for the long-term? Here are three characteristics that should be present in your closest connections.
Tried – If you’ve faced a crisis in a relationship, honestly assess if you have attempted to connect more deeply. Have you been satisfied with surface connections? Have you been willing to risk pain and discomfort to learn more about the person – and the person learn more about you? A relationship is never one-sided. In fact, the whole point of a relationship is a shared, two-way communication. If you haven’t built a strong relationship with this person, you can’t assume the problem is on their end. You must look within yourself and honestly assess if you have tried your best to open yourself to a deeper connection. If you want to gain access to the other person while protecting yourself, you’ll find the doors will never open fully to a deeper relationship.
Tested – you don’t know how strong your relationship is until you have disagreed strongly. Sameness is not strength. It’s the ability to meld your differences into a unified front that creates strength. Think of the creation of steel. For centuries, iron was the material that was considered the strongest. Then, chemists and builders discovered by adding other elements, the metal was stronger and more durable. However, the original elements had to be melted and forged together. The same is true with authentic relationships. Unless you can allow your relationship to go through heated times and hardening moments, you can’t depend on that relationship to survive. The end product however, is stronger and will provide the framework for a blessed life. It’s up to you to see the hard times coming and to prepare to weather them with your friends and loved ones, no matter what.
Truthful – keeping the peace by hiding the facts is not true connection. Speaking the truth in love is a foundational part of authentic relationships. This kind of truthfulness is not about being right, or telling someone your opinion. It’s about always putting their best interests first, even if that means approaching uncomfortable subjects, or risking anger or judgement. It’s the heart that the truth comes from that will determine if the truth only hurts, or if the truth also helps someone heal. In fact, unless you have first tried the relationship, and dealt with previous tests, it’s unlikely that the person will accept or offer their honesty. Again, we tend to protect ourselves and we fear rejection more than anything else. There’s a proverb that states, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend”, and it’s true. Truth is like surgery; it may cut you, but the end result is a healthier patient.
Allowing your relationships to be tried, tested, and subject to truthfulness isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
Because they are the ones who will stand with you when it matters the most.