Tag Archives: friendship

love practice

Love Is A Practice

Love is part of being human but it is not something that just comes naturally, at least that is what one analyst believes. Loving another takes work. It requires effort, discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. Love is not a feeling, rather it is a practice.

Psychoanalyst and social philosopher Erich Fromm outlined this perspective in his 1956 book, The Art of Loving. Fromm thinks of love not as something that is mysterious or magical but rather something that can be analyzed and explained. His theory revolves around the idea that a person cannot fully experience real love until they have developed their total personality. Part of this involves self-love. It means learning how to care for yourself before you can fully care for another. It means taking responsibility for your choices, your decisions, your actions. It means respecting yourself, knowing and being honest with yourself about your weaknesses and your strengths. Truly knowing and understanding yourself means being realistic. A person must learn to love their neighbor with “true humility, courage, faith, and discipline,” he writes. 

Work To Be Loved

He believes that a person cannot fall in love but rather they have to work to be in love. It is not something that happens to a person, but instead is something that is worked at achieving. Fromm argues there are four basic elements to true love: care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge. 

His perspective, while agreed to by some and criticized by others, contains a foundation that is undeniably true across all relationships—you can’t maintain a relationship without putting in the effort. That is the bottom line. It is not smooth sailing all the time. You can’t throw in the towel every time things get difficult. You really have to work at it. It does take discipline, it does take a level-headed mindset and the ability to consider both sides of the spectrum. 

Regardless of beliefs or theories, at the end of the day, I think we can all agree that love is beautiful and as Fromm would say “is one of life’s greatest achievements.” 

When your BFF doesn’t support your relationship…

You have found “the one.” You are in love and elated. You share your excitement with your best friend expecting to receive support, hugs, and maybe even a “congrats.” But, instead, you are met with disdain. Your friend is less than happy for you. He, she, they thinks you are making a mistake. 

Naturally, you are hurt by this response. This is your best bud and you want he/she/they to be excited for you, supportive, and happy that you have found your person. So what do you do now? You probably feel like you don’t want to talk to this friend about your significant other anymore. But, this is your best friend and your significant other is a huge part of your life. How are you suppose to approach this without getting yourself hurt? Or hurting the friendship?

First of all, who is this friend? Is this a person who usually has good judgment. Do you respect their honest opinion, or are they more of a judgmental-type of person. Are they always looking for the bad to dig out? Are they always poking at the negative? This friend’s personality can help you to determine how much weight you should give to their opinion. 

Second, remember that this is another person’s opinion. It is not yours. In a healthy friendship, there is room for a difference in opinion. You can agree to disagree without harming the relationship. 

Third, listen to your friend. Hear them out. It does not hurt to hear their reasoning and maybe you can provide some insight that they haven’t uncovered or vice versa. It can be helpful to view the relationship from a different angle. There is no need to be dismissive about their opinion. Try to open your mind. 

Fourth, help your friend and your significant other to get to know each other better. Invite your friend to double-date or come over for a game night. Make it a comfortable environment so your friend might be able to see things from your view. 

You don’t have to let this type of thing harm a friendship. You just have to be respectful, calm, and open. Not everyone sees things the same way. Besides, that would be pretty boring, wouldn’t it? 

It is ok to say “no” :set boundaries from the beginning

Your friend calls and asks you if you are able to help work the table at the school fair next week. You think about it and despite the fact that you will have to rearrange your schedule, and squeeze this event between two others, thus leaving no time for you to make it to your weekly yoga class, you still say “yes.” A few days go by and you are dreading it. On the day of, you start to get really disappointed that you have to miss that yoga class, so you cancel on your friend. You tell your friend something came up, or you aren’t feeling too great, and you back out. 

Reevaluate your boundaries

If situations like this are a common occurrence in your life, you may want to take a step back and reevaluate your boundaries. 

You don’t always have to be a people-pleaser. It is ok to say “no.” It is ok to disappoint a friend or a family member by turning down a request. It is ok to set boundaries. Rather than always saying “yes” just to say “yes” and make everyone happy—while really hurting yourself— set boundaries from the beginning. You don’t need an excuse or a reason to say “no.” If you just don’t feel like it, then don’t do it. Saying “no” from the beginning will save time and stress for everyone later when you inevitably back out or are unhappy for participating. 

While in your head you are disappointing those around you for not doing everything they ask, you are actually displaying strength and confidence. Your ability to understand your needs and to take the steps to set a boundary will most likely be respected by your friends or family. And, so what if it is not. You have to do what is best for you, and the people in your life will eventually understand. Plus, no one wants to be seen as a flake. Rather than always having that appearance, take the right steps from the beginning—and save yourself the stress. No one is perfect, and no one can do it all ALL the time.