In the area of friendship, I have certain expectations of a “friend” that I might not have of everyone else around me. Let me begin by describing the expectations I have of everyone, including strangers, and work forward.
1. I expect honesty and general good will from everyone.
Honesty is different from openness. By honesty I mean that what one says is truthful and there is no attempt to decieve, but that doesn’t mean that the other person will necessarily tell me everything. This means that if someone asks me something I am uncomfortable with answering, I would prefer to say “I don’t want to talk about that” than to answer with a lie. In return I expect people to not lie to me.
By general good will I mean that I expect people not to try and hurt me on purpose. I expect that normal people will try to avoid hurting others.
2. From a friend, I expect some openness, and I expect that they will have time for me. I also expect that they will be aware of my needs and wants and respect them.
Some openness in this context is a higher level of sharing. I am a pretty open person, meaning that it is pretty easy for me to talk about things that others might consider “private” even with a stranger. I don’t have a lot of “secrets” of my own, though I do keep other people’s private information private.
However, I don’t expect everyone else to have this level of sharing with me. Not all of my friends will lay out all the details of their lives for me. But, at a minimum, I expect my friends to tell me what they think about me and how they feel about me. These are important details that I need to know in order to maintain a proper friendship. This also means that I expect my friends to not talk about me behind my back, meaning that they won’t say something to someone else about me which they were not willing to say directly to me.
I expect that friends will have time for me, meaning that they will be available to talk or get together and do something from time to time. I’m not going to set out a specific schedule of activities with required attendance, but we should be able to agree on some activities we like to do together, even if it is just talking or something. I want to know that my friend is willing to spend some time with me just because I asked, not just based on whether the activity is interesting, meaning that I should be able to say “I want to see you” and not have to arrange an interesting activity to keep their interest. We are likely to share some interests, so a diversion seems likely, but that’s not the sole reason for our time together.
A friend should be aware of my needs and wants, though in most cases he will not prioritize them higher than his own. For myself, my needs and wants and those of my loved ones come first, then if I am able to do a favor or kind deed for a friend, I will. I will often give up something that I want to give my friend something he wants (or needs) depending on the balance of the two needs/wants. For example, I may give up a few hours of my free time to be there for a friend, if it is something important to him, or I may give up a few dollars of spending money to get him a gift I know he will appreciate.
3. From loved ones, I expect complete openness, and I expect that they will place my needs and wants alongside their own.
By complete openness I mean that I expect my loved one to not keep secrets from me. I expect her to be able to tell me anything and everything, except for something told by someone else in confidence.
I also expect that she will place my needs and wants alongside her own. To me this means that our needs and wants are measured together and we will decide together how to best meet both my needs and hers. This usually means we will pool our resources, but not necessarily.
I may have missed some things, so I may go back and edit this later. Comments welcome, if you think of something I forgot, comment here or write me…