Love shouldn’t hurt -ever


By Teresia Smith

Elbert Hubbard says, “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” Do you feel it’s important to have friends? There are multiple benefits of having good friendships. Some people are naturally more social than others, but everyone needs at least a couple of true friends in their life. So many in today’s society has become very isolated and says they have a lot of friends because they do on social media, but not in person. Let’s look at the benefits of having friends you connect to regularly and what attributes make a good friend.

Studies have shown that consistent interactions with friends can improve your physical and mental health and that people even tend to live longer if they have good social connections. Friends are also an important source of support during troubled times and having them to talk to can help you deal with stress. Friends can make lifestyle changes, like starting a new job or moving to a new home, feel less unnerving. As you age, social interactions can diminish and it has been shown that feeling lonely and deprived of social contact are risk factors for dementia. Some studies have shown that a great benefit of friendships is a reduced chance of developing Alzheimer’s. Social connections such as friendships are very important for brain health.

So what are true friendships? Friendships are relationships based on mutual trust, acceptance of who we are, and sharing common interests and values. But more than just having a list of friends, we need good friendships that are healthy. Let’s list a few things that are essential for a healthy friendship: (1) Trust is the foundation of a good friendship. Often, especially as teens, friends don’t know how to keep privately shared information to themselves. And a good friend has to be able to tell you the truth, in a loving way, even when it may not be something you want to hear.

2) Both parties must commit to making time for the friendship. Reaching out to each other regularly, making the effort to grow the bond, and being able to work through any disagreements is imperative.

3) Friends must sincerely be interested in each other’s lives. Spending time together and asking questions and knowing about each other’s hopes, dreams, jobs, hobbies, families, etc. are ways of staying connected.

4) A good friend will be someone you are comfortable opening up to and sharing your good days and bad. Being able to share and feel supported will increase the sense of closeness between friends. You should never feel like you have to pretend to be something other than who you truly are with a real friend.

5) Mutual respect is crucial. Good friends do not take advantage of each other. They do not put each other down or belittle them. True friends will appreciate differences and value them.

6) Genuine friends will not be jealous when something good happens in your life. They will offer support when needed and help celebrate the good times.

7) Friendships should enrich your life. You will not always agree on things; however, you should be willing to see their point of view and just agree to disagree when needed.
When life is challenging, such as after a sexual assault or escape from domestic violence, friends can help you work through the emotional upheaval, deal with stress, lower your anxiety, give you a sense of belonging, and improve your self-esteem. The support they offer can come in various ways such as emotional support like listening, information support like advice, and practical support like going with you to appointments or helping you move.

Crisis Services of North Alabama offers free and confidential services, such as support groups and crisis counseling, for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. You may reach out local office at 256.574.5826 for an appointment. We also offer a 24/7 HELPline where you can speak with trained crisis counselors at 256.716.1000. You are not alone.

Your Community Newspaper

Local Weather

Clarion Facebook