Being a Friend - The 5 Stages of Friendship

Small Talk 
All relationships have a starting point and usually friendships start with small talk. You meet a new person and then you get chatting about the weather or if you have children you chat about the latest cute thing that your child is doing. From there you might delve deeper onto more personal small talk or you might stay in a safe zone and talk about the weather for as long as possible. Small talk is great for gathering information about another person so you can begin to get to know them. That first chat is often when we learn the other person’s name, find out about their job, interests, where they live and whether or not she is married or has any children. It’s is important to strike a balance between expressing an interest in their life and not seeming plain nosey. People are usually more than happy to talk about themselves. Staying in the small talk stage means that this person is someone that you know in passing. You interact with them occasionally or even regular basis, but you never progress past small talk. A personal relationship cannot be developed at this stage and to progress the friendship you will need to move the relationship outside of the event that brought you together in the first place. To move forward from this stage visit with her one on one or be more intentional in your next conversation. 

You have agreed to meet up again after one or more small talk meetings. This stage is when you go a little deeper and step out of the safe zone of small talk. You ask her questions about personal things and she asks you more about your life. It is here when you begin to connect possibly over a nice cup of coffee together. As you spend more and more time together you being to forge a bond of friendship but this stage is still too soon for things such as sharing deep opinions and asking advice. It is here that you either hit it off or pull back. Coffee friendships are great for a night out or for doing fun stuff with. They don’t need to go any deeper but still serve a purpose in your life. You can easily have a large circle of 'coffee' friends in your life and it is a good idea to keep several of these sorts of friendships alive. To move a friendship forward from the stage you will need to go deeper into real life issues. 

Life friends are the ones that you discuss real life issues with and who you go to if you need advice. You will do everyday ordinary life things with these friends without feeling self conscious such as putting on a load of laundry during a conversation or asking her for help with the dishes after dinner. You friendship is real and you feel comfortable being yourself around her knowing that she won’t judge you and you won’t judge her. You are not concerned about her opinion of you as you know she likes you for who you are in the same way that you like her for who she is. A certain level of trust has developed and you value her opinion in important matters. You would consider her part of your inner circle and are comfortable with her being close to your family. These are people who know quite a bit about your life, and have likely been through a few ups and downs with you. Life friends are generally those you see and talk to most often.  

For a friendship to truly mature it needs to face conflict. As with all things in life, nothing is valuable unless it has been tested and proven valuable. Conflict is the stage of a friendship that does just this, it tests and proves the friendship. Sadly not all friendships survive conflict but those that do will be friendships for life. They will be your strongest and deepest friendships. It is in the conflict stage where you honestly confront your friend about something that is bugging you or equally where you have to receive some sort of rebuke or confrontation about something from your friend. The Bible say, ‘Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.’ Superficial friends will flatter you and tell you what you want to hear but a truly good friend will say what needs to be said even if it might hurt. Conflict is never easy or pleasant but it is a necessary stage of friendship. To progress your friendships from conflict ensure that you truly hear what they have to say. Don’t be offended. Don’t retaliate. Only receive their friendship and their love and allow your friendship to grow through conflict. If ever your friend makes a mistake and says something hurtful in error, chose to forgive in the same way you would like to be forgiven when you make a mistake too. This will only mature your friendship and take it to the next level.  

Best Friends  
She is a woman who has travelled with you into the final stage of friendship and has become your best friend. Few ever make it to this stage but those that do will be your friend for life. Time and distance will not change a thing, a best friend remains a best friends and this friendship needs to be cherished, valued and nurtured. A best friend completely and utterly gets you. You can say or do the wrong thing but a best friend will know the true you and not even notice your error or moment of stupidity. Best friends feel like family because they are there for us during the most important moments of our life. A best friend brings out the best in you and is your cheerleader in life. They celebrate your success with you without any jealousy and cry with you in your times of sadness or mourning. In the same way, you need to be someone else’s best friend by loving them as you wish to be loved and by being there for them as you need someone to be there for you. A sure way to damage a best friend relationship is to always take and seldom give. Enjoy your best friends and make sure you are being a best friend too.

Find out more about Being a Friend here or about using our material to host your own Girl's Night here.   

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