Valerie Montgomery and I met through a LinkedIn connection. We worked together off and on for several years as business associates. At one point, I realized that Valerie is a trustworthy person and asked her formally if we could be friends. It was an exercise in personal growth for me, to develop free-flowing, trust-based relationships. On some level I hoped this effort would improve my relationship with a man.
Women can talk at length about the way we interact. Valerie and I could talk through difficulties to understand each other’s motives, clearing up misunderstanding when one unintentionally offended the other. One day, we started to trade opinions on what it is to be a friend. This worked so well, we celebrated by compiling our list of friend qualities. It became a pact, of sorts; not to enforce, but a natural guide and a reminder to preserve trust.
Valerie here: “I initially contacted Elizabeth to meet because of her work as stated on her LinkedIn Profile. Then when we met, Elizabeth recognized the work of Pia Mellody with whom I had studied in the Fall of 2008.
We discovered a symbiosis of expertise and mutual enrichment toward both of our goals.
Elizabeth and I consciously chose to create this list through our discussions. She is the first person I had ever gotten to the point of really nailing down what it means to be a friend. I have found most people never really think about what friendship means. That we are just supposed to somehow know what it is and how to do it. I find stating what may seem obvious to be an opportunity for growth and understanding.
Elizabeth is a treasure trove of knowledge and perspective that continues to grow and give.”
Here’s our list, compiled in January 2017:
- Is available.
- Provides emotional safety.
- Allows you to do emotional process.
- Is a companion, someone to do things with.
- Celebrates/appreciates YOU, just as you are.
- Gives Freedom, not trying to change you.
- Is a Friend, learning from each other but not overtly academic or educational.
- Allows us to be ourselves.
- Enriches your life. No vampire friends (who suck the life out of you).
- Initiates something to stay connected.
- Pursues the relationship with intentionality.
- Respects others.
- Asks for what they need or want in the relationship.
- Also can ask for any other kind of need or want.
- Listens first. (Seeks to understand, then to be understood.)
- Participates in reciprocal connectedness.
- Lives in symbiosis with the friend: a close and often long term interaction.
- Values community: is open and loving toward others in their friend’s life and world.
- Friends seek mutual enjoyment!
- Can work out a basis for a shared ‘culture’ (individual preferences held in common).
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Find Valerie Montgomery at Beyond Beautiful PLLC.