I recently noticed a book title, “How To Be An Adult in Relationships” by David Richo, Ph.D. Even though being an adult isn’t always my goal, I was curious to read on. The author listed the Five A’s of Love as Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, Affection, and Allowing. I thought they were reasonable and catchy.
At about the same time, I had two back to back long phone conversations with women friends. Both visits were anything but adult. We giggled, told jokes, dreamed about how we might survive the remaining political @#$%^&*, and shared what we did for joy.
Mainly, we supported each other with suggestions and encouraging kudos.
Why don’t we title a book, “The Five L’s of Friendship: Laugh, Listen, Lounge, Labor, and do not Label.” Labor is one of my five “L’s” because it is fun to work with a good friend, delegate and share responsibilities, and have a great time in the process. A good friend and I still laugh hard about the evening, decades ago, when we hung wallpaper in a guest bedroom, and another time when she invited me to help process chickens.
Maybe we try too hard and worry too much when it comes to relationships. What friends do you stay connected with, not out of obligation, but desire and shared interests? I would guess whoever they are, you both show up wearing your best game face, including flaws. Your eyes light up, and you both authentically relax, care, share, and listen.
Being around people we love, admire, and enjoy, should not be work. Doing dishes and changing sheets fall into that category. Being in someone’s company is only work if we feel we’re not good enough. If we experience tension from the fear of being negatively judged, we are not in a close, trusting friendship.
All that said, as Barbara Streisand sang in “Funny Girl,” people need people. We don’t need a jillion people in our inner circle, just more than one. We need at least two, in case we lose one. In Castaway, Tom Hanks had nobody when Wilson (the volleyball) floated out of his reach.
Maybe we need to be more childlike instead of adult-like when we think about healthy connections. Watch kids play. They are immediate, say what they think, walk away if it isn’t fun, express emotions, hug, and cry when it hurts. Children are great teachers, and we were all kids, once.
Consider the dynamics of all relationships, including friends and relatives, and be a little less adult—Laugh, Listen, Lounge, Labor, and do not Label. The improvement will be noticeable.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
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