Ground Rules for Friendship

    I am reading the Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and A Forty-Year Friendship by Jeffrey Zaslow.  The story follows the relationships of a group of 11 girls growing up in Ames, Iowa.  They author cites serveral unspoken or barely acknowledged ground rules that make the relationships work:

– They don't brag about their husbands' jobs or incomes.
– They talk about their children's achievements, but not in a gloating way.  They root for each other's kids, just as they root for each other.
– They make every effort  to be with each other for key events in their lives:  weddings, serious illnesses, funerals.
– If they have disagreements among themselves, if they have negative opinions about each other, if they have things that need to be hashed out, it all remains in the group.  They don't go to their husbands with their complaints.  They don't tell their friends outside the group.
– They've grown beyond a cutthroat kind of ambition, are far less competitive, have lowered their expectations of others, and are learning  to find satisfaction in just living.

    Do all sucessful friendships (or even all relationships) need similar ground rules whether spoken or unspoken?
    Is it easier to form and then maintain bonds when younger?

    I took a lesson from Dr. Phil (of Oprah fame) and actually worked out what I wanted in a romance, i.e. what was mandatory, what was optional and what was a dealbreaker.  Can the same method be applied to friendship?  To family?

– Curiosity and an open mind.
– Tolerance.
– Willing investment of time and energy (to form and maintain bonds).
– Tact.
– Honesty.
– Support in good times, not just during crises (to build shared experiences).

What do you think?

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