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How to build your friendship standards

Updated: May 17




How have you made friends in the past and what was the reason for it? In my experience, I always made friends because people chose to talk to me and I just stuck with them or they introduced me to new people. Recently I realized I have never actively chosen friends for myself and I started to wonder if that’s why I don’t feel satisfied in the majority of my relationship. At first, I assumed that maybe we just grew apart due to distance or having different focuses in our lives which could still be true. However, I feel like if you had connections that were right for you, that you actively chose- regardless of what is happening in your lives (such as a lack of communication) you still would feel grounded in the relationship.


I never necessarily choose my friends, therefore I never took the time to question “What would a good friend be like for me” or “What qualities do I believe would create a strong bond between me and another person”. Friends are supposed to be the family you are able to choose and in the same way we are cautious about choosing a romantic partner, we need to be able to look inward to creating standards for friends as well. Having standards in friendships is just as important as having standards for significant others because they are meant to be a space where you can be authentically yourself.


So when is the best time to evaluate your friendships? Any point of time is good, but I do believe the best time to figure it out is when you are in a transitional phase. When you graduate from high school or college, those are the times your thoughts are consumed with questions like the following:


“What do I want to do from this point?”

“Who do I need to be in order to do that?”

“Am I aligned with that? Does that match my values and morals?”

“How can I bridge the gap between who I am and who I strive to become?”

“What activities do I need do?”

“What skills I need to develop?” ”Is my current environment safe for me to develop that way?”


Friends can either be helpful or harmful for you, but to know that you will have to create standards. Creating standards is not about writing off people, looking down on others, etc. but about boundaries. Boundaries are made to act as a guideline for what you will or won’t allow in your space. To inspire you, I am sharing my list of standards that I created upon doing some reflection.

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My friendship standards


Secure Friends


Everyone can have insecurities because it is a very human thing and so is jealousy. When I say a secure friend, I mean someone who can support my successes and growth without seeing it as an attack on them. Sometimes when people are not in the place they want to be, when someone succeeds at something even if it is not a win they desire for themselves they say or do things to ruin something that a person was proud of or excited about.


Truthfully a red flag for me is when a person can’t be happy for you the good is happening. I feel like a genuine person is there for you through it all, during both your low points AND your high points. If they are only there for the high, I would perceive them as a person with low emotional intelligence and a person who practices toxic positivity. But on the other hand, I see a person who is only around during your low points as someone who may have underlined competition with you… the type of energy where they may want to be okay but not perceive you to be in a better place than them.


Friends who critique, but do not criticize


Critique and criticism are not the same things. As a creative thinker, I may ask people to review what I am working on. It’s never out of insecurity, but always to figure out my blind spots. I know even as a writer, grammar is my biggest flaw. I also know a lot of times when I think about things it is fairly uncommon, so I tend to ask friends to see if what I am thinking needs to be elaborated on.


If I send you a project I am working on, it is because I trust your opinion or perspective so to tell me something is just good or bad without genuine feedback is infuriating. Especially if someone says they don’t agree, don’t understand, or find it terrible- I would like to know why and how can I improve it because I am open-minded enough to know my projects are not perfect. As someone who works on multiple forms of creation, my forms of storytelling will always need adaptation.


But on a level not about my passion projects, as much as I do enjoy opinionated people, I do not like judgmental people. A judgmental person always seems like they have something negative to say, ready to criticize without reasoning.



Loyal, but not yes men


This one I thought about a lot since my 1st friendship breakup because the reality was we both had our expectations and own definitions of what it meant to be a good friend and a loyal friend. For me a loyal person is more than a person who stands up for you when you are in a space or not, someone you can trust with secrets, someone you can confide in easily but also someone who will tell you when you are in the wrong. I feel like there is a misconception when it comes to loyalty because sometimes people assume that always means taking your side, even if you are in the wrong. I always see people talk about avoiding friends who are neutral when you have a conflict with someone else but a perspective I don’t see enough people talk about is the person who is neutral isn’t always actually neutral. They most likely do have thoughts and opinions but feel afraid to express their true opinions if a person makes it feel like in order for them to be a loyal friend to you, they have to agree with you. Being loyal doesn’t excuse having disagreements nor critique. I would feel like a terrible friend if I ever made someone feel like they can’t be honest about their perspective with me. To me, loyalty also looks like wanting the best for you and critiquing you from a place of wanting to see you be the best version of yourself.


Non-Romantic Partner Centric friend


One thing I realized over the years is people who are constantly looking for romantic partners and center their value around whether they are in a relationship or not- are not for me. I am a lover girl, I love love and am a hopeless romantic, but that aspect of me is not the center of my identity. I did not want to limit this part to just say to decenter men, but in general decentering romantic partners.


If I hang out with someone, I don’t want the topic to always be about who they are talking to. Maybe it's the fact I don’t agree with hook-up culture or have any interest in it, there is something surface-level about engaging in conversation about this person you're talking to or that person you slept with, etc. If they are asking for advice about a specific thing that happened or saying they want to do a nice gesture or maybe a big milestone is happening like meeting their parents- that’s okay to want to talk about, but I’m saying if that’s all they could talk about.


I think many things outside of a person’s romantic relationship that make them interesting: hobbies, dreams/ aspirations, theories on life, skills they want to develop, entertainment/ media they enjoy, favorite foods and food place, places they have visited or want to visit, books they read, their family and upbringing, their job, who inspires them, etc.


Additional personal take: one thing I will say is I don’t necessarily mind if their partner meets us after we have been hanging out for a while or joins us for a bit when hanging out. Typically it depends on the reason, but I am someone who hates commuting alone so whenever a friend asks me to do something that is more of a group thing I used to ask my boyfriend at the time to meet me at a specific time or I would ask if another friend who lives more in the same direction as me can come so I don’t have to leave alone. As an NYC native, driving was never that high of a priority for me because there is so much public transportation but the subway especially now has gotten worse and where my friends and I tend to meet up there are not a lot of bus options that can take me back home. Of course, Ubers, Lifts, and taxis exist but paying that after spending time out is a budget strain unless I planned for that in the first place.


Someone who challenges me to think bigger



Sometimes due to limiting beliefs that we have yet to unlearn, we put ourselves in boxes. I think it is important to have friends who see your box and want to drag you out of it. That they see so much in you that they think your dreams are too small for who you are meant to be.


The type of friends who respectfully and gently pull you out of your comfort zone. You tell them you want to be a writer; they ask you what kind? Ask what ways are you going to challenge yourselves to be that? Ask what type of connections and resources to bridge the gap between dream and reality? They do not doubt that you can do it, but they challenge you to think about how can you. They challenge you to think about the different ways to approach your dreams and hold you accountable to keep making progress. This obviously is not a one-way street because you do the same for them.


Someone who check-ins and asks about my needs


I do believe this is important especially friends who are more like me in the sense if you do not ask they will not tell. Not everyone is naturally open and in the past, I have checked in with friends and asked if I am being a good friend towards them from their perspective. As life goes on our needs fluctuate and so do the versions of who we are. Taking the time to ask is not out of insecurity or people pleasing, but out of respect to honor where you both are at.


If someone tells me they wish we would talk more and if I am in a place where I can honor that, I would want to have an authentic conversation. Like do they feel like we don’t talk enough because they initiate and I take a while to answer? Is there more going on in their lives that they want someone to talk with? I won’t know unless they say what they need and I can’t offer a compromise if it is not something I am already aware of. I always tell people I am more of an introvert and I tend to keep my phone away from me especially on the days I am trying to create so I can focus on things I am passionate about, but if someone tells me they need more interaction I can set times per week to talk more.


This is something I do at times just to make sure we are on the same page, but I do wish to have friends who would also check in since I am used to being the one who asks. Some people may feel like there’s perspective is a lot for a friendship but I do think this is something truly lost in most friendships. I feel like at times people don’t express their needs but on the other end, it is also important for the other person to make space for the other person especially if someone is not an open book.


Someone who you only have to tell something once


This is kind of to add to the last characteristic, but my biggest pet peeve is when you do take the time to be vulnerable and express the things that matter to you and someone completely ignores it or disrespects it. I do understand as an adult that there are times when friends will not be your priority but I am someone who feels if someone comes to me about something, I will try my best to honor that.


Once someone told me they felt like every time we would talk that I wasn’t interested enough in what they were saying. We mostly talked either through phone calls or occasionally Facetime (although they would have the camera pointed at the ceiling and would have on a headset speaking to other people while they gamed and was on FaceTime but anyway).


When they said this I asked them to explain further what they meant and then they explained that they felt like I would cut them off or tell another story in the midst of their story. From that day I realized our communication styles are completely different, I do tend to interrupt for 2 reasons 1) since I do not see their face it’s hard to tell when they are finished with their story, and 2} I tend to ask questions or ask them to pause so I can process what they are telling me. When a person tells a story straight without pausing, it would be harder for me to remember what they just told me and truthfully it would feel like way too much information at once (as in being mentally overloaded). I ask questions when I am interested and want to get the details. Also, I may compare it to something else to try to get a better understanding of their feelings or the situation but NOT to change the subject. They are the opposite of me because when I am telling them a story they are quiet and since I can’t see their face my brain takes it as a signal they aren’t interested in what I am saying so I stop talking and then when that person asked why I got quiet I would say because you don’t seem interested because I take it as when people ask a question about what you just said as a sign of interest. Then they would say “I was interested, I was just listening”.


I thought this was an interesting detail because not a lot of people discuss the importance of communication styles but back to the point: after that person told me that, I did actively try to adjust to what feels like genuinely listening to them ( like trying to not ask questions or as them if the situation was like another thing that came to mind) and they adjusted to my communication style by being more reactive when I am telling them something. If someone tells the things that are important to them, it is important to honor that the best way you can even if it takes some practice. Even if you make mistakes, you catch yourself and they don’t have to constantly repeat the things that matter and you don’t have to either.


A friend that you do not need to talk to on a daily basis


This is a personal preference. Introverted people need alone time, even if they typically enjoy someone's company. A lot of times even if I enjoy a person, I am not easily able to just be when other people are around or need people around at all times. It has nothing to do with them but everything to do with me and how I have structured my life to not feel lost or out of flow. On a daily basis especially now that I am still in a place of uncertainty, I am working to create certainty through my passions and hobbies because they ground me. I need a friend who can understand that talking every day is not a realistic thing for me, but recognize that doesn’t mean I am ignoring them or do not care because I will still try to contact them at the very least weekly basis.


A friend who asks questions and responds to questions in depth


I like mentally stimulating people. I like people who offer new perspectives so I can think about something new. It helps me as someone creative and a lot of times I do get inspired from conversations whether it’s conversations I’ve had personally or when I see things on social media and form an opinion.


Creative and expressive friends


The saying goes you are the combination of the 5 people you spend the most time with. I strive to be creative, more expressive about things without fear and I want to feel inspired by other people who are creative in their own way. Creative people are naturally curious people, they see problems and come up with theories on how to solve it. They can express their solutions in ways they feel are the most aligned whether it’s through fashion, dance, music, photography, science, business planning, etc. Those are the people who fascinate me and inspire me.


Doesn’t need to drink, smoke, or have any form of drugs to consider something a good time


I am pretty uninterested in those things. I have never smoked. I have drank a few times but realistically I can count on one hand how many times I drank since I turned 21 (I'm pretty sure it’s been 4 times and I am currently 22; turning 23 in October). I have seen so many people comment on how people live life without really participating in those things.

Life does get hard, but something I find frustrating is when you don’t do those things, I feel like others judge you more for it. A lot of adult socializing centers around things like drinking (bar culture and clubbing culture), smoking ( hookah lounges or more intimate settings), and even things like coffee shops have been symbols of what it’s like to socialize as an adult. So it’s hard to make friends who don’t necessarily need or want to do those things for fun.


Growing up in a more urban area and also being constantly worried about certain things as a kid, there is so much I feel like I missed out on that I crave to experience. I mean even as an adult I still don’t know how to ride a bike. The time I spend with friends I want it to be about things that are more nostalgic (going ice skating, having picnics, dinner parties, movie nights in, game nights) or things that I have never experienced ( going to olfactory to make fragrance, going thrifting, making pottery, taking a weekend to go camping..well glamping because I never been and the idea of sleeping in a tent on the floor sounds like back pain but anyways).


While it’s not a problem when people do want to engage with the things above, I would just prefer if their ideas of fun/ socializing didn’t always center around that.


Appreciate the already experienced friendships



I feel like I wouldn’t have been able to figure out my standards without what I already experienced. I talked about this before on my podcast, but for the most part, the friendships that I’ve had in my life that have been the most impactful so far have been people who feel like the sun.


While I did use this to reference a person who was once a best friend, mainly because she was also a Leo rising, another impactful friendship was with my first close friend in college. She sat next to me in one of my classes my first semester and from there she was one of my most influential people even though in so many ways we were just very different. I tend to be fascinated easily by people who are different, especially the ones who seem more outgoing or extroverted. She was also another person who felt sun-like.


The people who I describe as being like the sun are typically the people who always takes the initiative to expand their circle. The people who are always putting themselves out there to make connections. Their energy is really warm and a lot of times they are very giving, I think a lot of time they are the people who are cheerful presenting, but beyond the way they present their light, there is something people tend to miss. Like something burning in them, that truthfully they try to avoid people from seeing- maybe because it’s not something as positive as their light. Maybe it’s something that hurts them internally so they try extra hard for positive things to come from them so people don’t see what’s burning.


Moon people are different. I think of moon people as the people who feel like they only shine among other people’s presence. How much of the moon is seen is dependent on the phase they are in, but even regardless the light of the moon is a mere reflection of the sun’s. It is not a producer of its own light. I always said I am more like the moon because the recognition of my existence always felt attached to someone else. Even if the light is there, it is something constantly not seen. Think about it, when the moonlight is shining to fill the darkness, people for the most part are asleep. Literally the definition of people who are slept on. However, one magical thing about moon people is they tend to have this pull on people’s emotions the way the moon pulls the tides. Moon people are usually the people who even from a distance can see people's emotions. A lot of times these are the people that others tend to show their emotions, even if they are typically someone with their guard up. Moon people have this tendency to create a space of comfort so people feel at ease to show the hidden things.


Maybe that’s why people who are like the sun gravitate towards them. It works as a friendship until it doesn’t. Regardless I am grateful for the experience that are sun people. They taught me lessons like the importance of connection, how to enjoy the little things, how to feel more excited about life, how to crave more adventures, and honesty what kindness looks like.


I am a believer that cycles repeat when you don’t recognize the lesson. I think I experienced them to learn how to take more initiative in the connections I want to create. Maybe when I reach out on my own, I can find friends who shine like the stars - the type of friends who can work with me to light up the dark. Or friends like the earth that grounds me. Or maybe I’ll make friends who are like comets, that are the type of people who move rapidly but if you are lucky enough to catch sight of them, you’ll always be amazed when you get the opportunity. Or maybe I might meet another sun-like person and have a more balanced approach to the interactions so there is more longevity.





I know this was probably the oddest way to describe connection (I miss writing poetry), but I hope you found this a useful guide for you to start doing the inner work for you to look for more satisfying connections. I was supposed to post this earlier, but for some reason talking about this made me nervous. Maybe because I do try to make content that helps others, but I simply cannot completely erase my experience from these. I do hope even if you don't necessarily agree with what I look for in people, you can respect it. My standards are my own but that doesn't make them right for you, your goals, or your space. Maybe you feel the opposite and even that would be alright because as long as your standards came from a mindful place with good intentions. No one knows you better than yourself and I hope you find the people who make your life feel positive in the ways you crave.


I hope you enjoyed this post and found it interesting. Also if you like my content it would mean the world to me if you would also subscribe to my YouTube channel, my Pinterest, and my TikTok account. On YouTube, I have the most inspirational content from Lifestyle Design posts to Digital "open when..." letters to boost your moods. I also keep a copy of my podcast episodes (which is also available on Spotify). I decided that I am honoring what feels right to me and continuously working on building the life of my dreams and helping others do the same. Don’t forget to share this if you feel inspired and I will have more content for you soon.


Until next time butterflies 🦋


Xoxo,

Lay 💋



 

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