6 VITAL QUALITIES I VALUE IN MY CLOSEST FRIENDS

The 6 qualities I value in my close friendships are: consistency, inspiration, encouragement, cheerleading, spiritual guidance and reciprocation.

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH GOOD PEOPLE

Zina Harrington the author of Becoming Unbusy shared a thought recently on Facebook about the type of women she wants to be surrounded by. It resonated with me on a lot of levels because, as I've gotten older, there are certain qualities I look for in my friends too. 

I definitely steer clear of criticism, negativity, sabotage, or doom and gloom. I also don't need super sunshine-y, perfect Pollyannas either. I'm tending to seek out real, authentic, down to earth women with common sense and the ability to sift through all the dross to find the little nuggets of truth and joy that still abound in our lives. These are my tribe and today I'm sharing six qualities that speak to my heart when I'm with these types of women...

THE 6 QUALITIES I LOOK FOR IN MY FRIENDS

six types of women I want to be surrounded by

1. CONSISTENCY

Women who are intentional and consistent. I've never understood fairweather friends, I have a deep seated need for authenticity and dependability in those who I share my life with. I've experienced the damage that comes from being with people whose moods change with the weather and who I'm never sure of. Those people stress me out, I want to fix them and help them - and that causes more pain than happiness. Give me a steady, "real", consistent friend any day.

2. INSPIRATION

Women who reflect who I want to be. I've met a lot of women online through blogging and they inspire me all the time. They have such can-do attitudes and are kicking goals in their areas of interest all the time. They're often quite different to me in how they're approaching Midlife, but at the same time I can see commonalities - the positivity, the gratitude, the appreciation of all that this age and stage brings with it. Every time I read about something they've achieved or enjoyed, it just makes my heart happy - such a contrast to those who are so busy bemoaning getting older that they're missing out on the simple joys right in front of them.

3. ENCOURAGEMENT

Women who support me through the tough times. As many who read my blog would know, there was a fair amount of upheaval in my last decade. Lots happened - our kids got married, our marriage needed a major overhaul, I changed career paths, found the perfect (yeah...right!) job, got sucked dry in the not-so-perfect job, had a meltdown, quit, re-built my resilience, retired, and kept on going. Those friends who supported me through all that were a godsend. They listened, gave advice, listened some more, and supported me when I needed them. A few walked away into the sunset - and that's okay too.....the real ones stayed.

4. CHEERLEADING

Women who lift me up and see the good in me. I think this quality in a friend is one I appreciate every single day. When I read a lovely blog comment, when I hear a compliment, when a friend tells me that something I've said or done has encouraged them, or when I just get to laugh and share stories over a coffee. Every little moment shared with a friend who wants to help my light shine brighter just brings me immeasurable joy. I hope I do exactly the same in return - it's such a blessing to cheer each other on rather than competing or comparing. And an especially big thank you to those who cheered me on when I wrote last week about my new little job opportunity.

5. SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE

Women who nourish my soul. When I think of this type of friend I assume that those I know through church should spring to mind.....but it's more often those who are on a similar journey to me who offer nuggets of insight that help me think and feel more deeply. Their example of "walking their talk" gives me encouragement to do the same - to be more gracious, to be more honest, to be more real - and to grow into the person God created me to be. My soul is nourished by the wise women I encounter throughout the week - those living their lives authentically and openly in these unsettling times.

6. RECIPROCATION

Women who invest in me and follow through. This last one is hard for me to explain. I think what I value in a true friend is the knowledge that they'll chase me up if I go missing in action. The sort of person who stays in contact when I change jobs, or who checks in while my blog comments are turned off, or who calls if we haven't spoken for a while.....the friend who invests in our friendship as much as I do. I've had friendships that drifted into nothing when I stopped instigating the connection, I've had others who too busy to truly be present - they make for casual friends, but those who prioritise catching up - those are my true pals.

MY INNER CIRCLE

My inner circle is small and tight these days - superficial friendships seem to have been left along the wayside. I think in these days of uncertainty and upsets I feel the need to be in my own space more and I have less emotional energy to invest than I did in my younger days. I used to have a great many friends - casual and close - but these days my friends are truly like gold - and I value each and every one of them. I know I wouldn't be the person I am today without their encouragement, cheer-leading, inspiration, and kick-ass qualities. 

I loved this quote from Marc and Angel about choosing friends who bring out our best qualities:

marc and angel quote on true friendship
via marcandangel.com

RELATED POSTS


The 6 qualities I value in my close friendships are: consistency, inspiration, encouragement, cheerleading, spiritual guidance and reciprocation.

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Cresting the Hill - a blog for Midlife (Middle Aged / 50+) women who want to thrive
The 6 qualities I value in my close friendships are: consistency, inspiration, encouragement, cheerleading, spiritual guidance and reciprocation.

38 comments

  1. What a lovely read. I totally agree with you. Sadly my siblings are cut-off due to them not having these qualities. My Husband died 10 months ago and my sister did not even send condolences! Thankfully I married into a good and caring family and have raised my kids to be respectful and care for each other. Friends are so tight and inspiring and this is all anyone needs.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear that your husband has passed and the lack of support from your siblings. It's awful when family lets us down isn't it? You would expect that they would always have your back, but sadly that's not always the case. My husband's family have been very special to me over the years too and it makes things a little easier.

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  2. A great post, Leanne, that reminds me of the friends in my life. I notice how you did not specifically write only about women friends. We both know how men can be a good friend. My brother is one of my best friends. My husband has always been a best friend.

    I cherish my women friends. I support the idea of counselling, yet one of my friends and I joke about how much money we have saved by being a safe, accepting, wise friend for each other.

    I am nodding my head, yes, to many of the points you bring up. I like how you use the phrase “nourish your soul.” I also especially like your phrase, “…my friends are truly like gold…” Thank you for sharing your candour and your wisdom in all of your posts.xx Your friend, Erica ❤️

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    1. Hi Erica - how lovely to see you back in blogland again <3 Yes, friends can be both male and female - and my husband certainly counts as my bestie. I also love that friends come in all shapes and sizes and we don't have to be carbon copies of each other to be supportive and encouraging. Thank you for being one of my cheer squad - your positivity shines through every time we "talk" xx

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    2. Hi again, Leanne, temporarily back in blogland..........still planning to return when the time is right.......xx

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    3. Erica - I'll take any little bits of you that you have to spare xx

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  3. Hi Leanne, it is always about the quality of the friendship rather than the number of friends. There is something so special about close friends who are there to support, don't judge and you can just be yourself with. I cherish those moments.

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    1. Hi Sue - yes, it's definitely quality over quantity for me these days. I'd rather have a handful of friends I can count on than bucketloads of fair weather friends that come and go depending on their whims. Thanks for being such an inspiration and example for me and for so many other Midlifers x

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  4. Your post reminds me of how we all have different wants and needs - I don’t necessarily have to agree with my friends all the time, they can be very different in their outlook on life, sometimes we have to look outwards rather than inwards so I think about what I can do for them rather than what they can do for me…..but most of all I just want them to be fun to be around.
    Take care
    Cathy #lifestories

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    1. Hi Cathy - I think it would be really quite boring if our friends all thought exactly like us. It's nice to have a good discussion about topics that you come at from different angles, or to hear a different perspective on an issue that might be bothering you. I also like that different friends can meet different needs - and the fun factor is super important!

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  5. These are many of the same qualities I look for in my friends too!

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    1. they're great aren't they Joanne - it was nice to be able to define why some friendships become deeper and others fade away.

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  6. Leanne, I love this phrase: "cheer each other on rather than competing or comparing". I think that is how I am trying to live my life... not always successful, but that is my desire! And, really thought provoking set of qualities. I know we are different in thinking about reciprocity, but I loved reading about all 6 qualities important to you. Inspiring and encouraging - love those people in my life!

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    1. Pat I think that your ability to instigate catch-ups far outweighs mine. I start to doubt my value in the friendship when I'm always the one making plans or contact, for you to be able to look past that says a lot about your emotional security :) And yes, I think I look more deeply into my friendships these days and that helps me release those who walk away because they obviously don't want the same things as me - and that's perfectly okay.

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  7. Hi, Leanne - This is such a great post. Like Joanne, the qualities that you mentioned here are the qualities that I most value as well -- especially the 'cheering not comparing' part. :D Nicely done!

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    1. Hi Donna - when I read the quote it brought so many little friendship moments to mind - both good and not so great. It made me realize that there are definite qualities I like to be surrounded by these days - things that make friendship easy rather than an effort. So, they just make a lot of sense don't they?

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  8. Hi Leanne, such a lovely heart-warming post about friendships and quality over quantity. I think the quotes you've shared say it perfectly too. I'm pleased to say i have several friends that tick all those boxes and I enjoy being surrounded by them either in person or virtually. Since leaving work a few years ago, I have managed to reduce the amount of toxicity in my world and am far happier for it!

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    1. I'm pleased to say I have friends that tick all the boxes too Deb. And I've learnt what to avoid and how to create boundaries to minimize the toxic people that creep into my life. I'm so grateful every day for the lovely friends in my life and for the comfort and connection they bring to it x

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  9. Hi Leanne, a nice write-up. I agree with your listing of the qualities. As we grow older, and our priorities change, it's quite natural for our perceptions of life and people to evolve. Even I feel that I don't have the emotional energy to invest in people who might not actually add any value to my overall well-being.

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    1. Hi Pradeep - I think it must be an age thing because I've noticed that as a couple we have a smaller circle of friends too. Maybe as our lives become more focused we seek out others who are more in sync with us and allow others to fade away.

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  10. This is a lovely post and it resonates with me so much! Especially the "women who reflect who you want to be", "lifts me up and sees the good in me".. are spot on. I hope I can be a friend like that to someone.

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    1. Hi - I think that if we aim to be that type of friend then like will attract like. I want to invest in friendships with women who have my back and who encourage me to be my best - and I'd like to think that I bring that to my friendships too :)

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  11. I miss in real life friends but they were from teaching days and everyone seems to go their own path after retirement and we did that too. I have made new friends over the years virtually thanks to blogging and you are one of those. I like the connections even if we cannot meet IRL we share similar values and life experiences. Thank you for sharing your blog post with the community at Denyse Whelan Blogs. The link up, each fortnight, called Life’s Stories, continues with bloggers such as you linking up and connecting! The next time to do so is Monday 9 May. Warmest wishes, Denyse.

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    1. Hi Denyse - I think that's been one of the biggest joys of blogging for me...the connection with women like yourself who are on the same wavelength as me, who are wanting to live their best life on their own terms and are willing to allow others to do the same - while we cheer each other on. It certainly more than compensates for the reduction in the number of my IRL friends! x

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  12. So much wisdom here! And I agree on all points. Now that I'm settling into my new city, I'm hoping to build a circle of local friends like this.

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    1. Hi Janet - building friendships seems so much harder now I'm past the young mum stage. It was easy when I was young, or when I had young kids, to meet like minded people - now it seems almost impossible. Maybe that's why I'm so grateful for those friends who've stuck by me for decades, and for the new friends I've made through blogging - they've been a godsend.

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  13. Hi Leanne. The qualities that you mentioned in your post are the qualities that I most value in my true friends as well. Thank you for linking up with #weekendcoffeeshare.

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    1. Hi Natalie - they resonated with me enough that I wanted to write a bit about them and share them with others because I think it's so important to acknowledge the blessings that come from women who care for us and want to be our cheer squad.

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  14. Love this post. So true of the importance of knowing the true value of friends. I believe that things and people are in our lives for a reason.

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    1. I completely agree Max - the friends that stick through thick and thin are a godsend and I'm grateful for each one and what they bring into my life. I also hope that I offer them the same qualities in return. Thanks for your comment.

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  15. Hi Leanne, not only are those good qualities to look for in our friends, but to cultivate in ourselves, as well. I don't have a lot of deep relationships (other than my husband), but I do surround myself with good people who are uplifting. Unfortunately, the trail of castaways is getting longer. Sometimes I look back and think I should have tried harder to salvage some of them, but at this stage of life I don't want to use my energy that way. Beautiful post and food for thought.

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    1. Hi Suzanne - I too have a "trail of castaways" and I used to be bothered by that and worked hard to try to stop it happening. Then I realized that those who drift off are the ones who didn't really invest in the friendship as a priority and they were happy to move onto other people and places. Now I'm fine with releasing them and investing my energy into those who want to be there - both IRL and online. Thanks for being one of those online buddies. :)

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  16. Hi Leanne, I posted my comment before entering my name, sorry about that! Feel free to delete the other comment.
    I read this post earlier this week but couldn’t comment then. Maybe now when I may have found a way to comment from my usual browser. Your post really resonated with me, especially that about “one who lifts me up and sees the good in me”, and “women who reflect who I want to be”, but also about authenticity. You’re inspiring me to look for these qualities in myself and to understand what kind of friend I am.

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    1. Hi Susanne - Blogger suddenly changed the comment format on my blog and I had to do a bit of digging around to try to make it a little more user friendly. I'm so glad you perservered and didn't give up on me (a sign of a true friend!) And yes I completely agree with the idea of being the type of friend you'd like to have - because like attracts like doesn't it?

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  17. So good Leanne. I totally agree with all of them. I totally get #6. I've had many friendships that always seemed like me initiating every time with everything and that got old quick. Yes they were my friends and when we did and do get together it's great, but it's not so great always being the initiator. The friend journey has been interesting for me in the last 8 years...when we ended up leaving the church we had been in since we got married and my husband had been in even longer, many friendships went with it. It was heartbreaking...I would literally joke that it was a good thing that I liked my own company. Friendships as adults can be so tricky.

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    1. Hi Kirstin - I found the same thing when we left our long term church 15 years ago. People I'd been friends with for 20 years just disappeared. It was a case of association through common connections, rather than a deeper investment in the friendship itself. Fortunately a couple stuck around and they're some of my closest IRL friends these days. The numbers might be smaller, but the quality is definitely higher - and the reciprocation is always there (and for some reason that really matters to me).

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  18. Hello Leanne! I'm just getting back in the swing of things after being away on vacation (or holiday as my European friends say). I came back to a very busy time at work, and I don't seem to have the energy to write a blog post at the moment, but I was eager to check in with my blogging friends. This post caught my attention right off. I think it's valuable to consider once in a while what characteristics you look for in a friend and to consider what you bring to a friendship. Now is a good time for me to do that, as I retire, and some of my casual work friendships naturally fade away, and I will need to invest more effort if I want to keep some others alive. On the flip side, I will have more time available to spend with friends who are already retired and those living further away. Thank you for being one of my closest blogging friends. Though we've never met IRL, I feel a connection with you. I appreciate the support and encouragement you've given me and the times you've helped me think about things in a new way. Here's to good friends!

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    1. Hi Christie - I hope the holiday was refreshing and you're all revved up for those last couple of months of work before the big "R". Thanks for your comment and I consider you to be a really good blogging friend too. It never ceases to amaze me that I can relate to someone so far away more closely than to most of the people around me! That being said, I've found that my friendships have lessened in number but deepened in quality over the last decade. Work friends faded away but other friends stepped up. People who care about you will find time to fit you into their lives - and vice versa. And yes - the friend you choose to be is the type of friend you attract. x

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