I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post how I had learnt a lot about friendships and how to tell if they’re healthy or not. I did a lot of soul searching over the past year and I have learnt a lot about friendships. One of the lessons I was taught by someone still stands out like a sore thumb. It’s one I have to remind myself about daily. The lesson is all about playing a certain sports game with your friends, and not a physical game.
What game should you be playing with your friends?
The game that needs to be played requires give and take, back and forth. It’s a tennis game, or any game that requires hitting a ball back and forth equally. Not hogging the ball and tackling like rugby.
The point of playing this game is that everything ends up being fair and equal. For too long I was putting my all into every friendship, always making and effort, and felt like I was chasing a lot. I never knew who was being genuine, who really wanted to talk, to meet up or to have me as an active part of their life and it was exhausting.
I was being drained. I felt like I was sending most messages first, arranging most meet ups and never feeling good enough. I couldn’t keep on going like this, it was taking up so much of my free time and energy and I was never having enough time for myself.
The rules of the game.
I was encouraged by someone I trusted to start playing this game. If I hit the ball out, I had to wait for it to return. By sending ball after ball, I was just draining my energy and resources. They needed to be replenished.
I needed to focus on myself, I also needed to figure out who was worth all this. By following the rules of the game and making sure there was give and take in each friendship, it allowed me to do this.
So, if I text or called a friend, I had to wait for a reply and not repeat the messages- I could only repeat messages and send multiple ones if I knew that I was at a comfortable stage with that friend. So for example, I have a couple of best friends that I’ve known for 18 years almost. We are at a comfortable point in our friendship, so it doesn’t matter if myself, or they send multiple texts.
This needed to be the case when asking a friend to meet up. The effort needed to go both ways.
How tennis changed my outlook.
I realised that I was putting in far more for others than I was getting back. But then, in other friendships I was so thankful that I could see that it was all equal.
It taught me patience. But most of all, it really showed me who my true friends were and that actually, it may have felt like I was doing all the chasing, but this was only in a couple of the friendships. Most of them, thankfully, were give and take. It was nice to get the texts and someone ask to meet up, knowing I hadn’t chased. It felt good. It made me realise that they were decent friends and wanted to talk and catch up.
And the ones that didn’t. Well, it was sad to begin with, but there was only a couple of people that fell through the net, so to speak, and I wasn’t that close with them anyway. I was done chasing, I was done draining myself.
Now whenever I am having a conversation, a catch up, I know that it is mutually wanted. Don’t get me wrong, there are still days when I feel like I’ve chased a bit, but I remind myself of the tennis game. I remind myself that if I was the one to throw the ball back, they must return it. Sometimes it takes a while, sometimes I take a while back. But it should always be left to them if the ball is in their court. Sometimes people take a step away from the court to have a break, that’s absolutely fine, then they return full of energy. Sometimes, they get fed up with the game. And they step away.
That’s difficult. Maybe they will return one day, maybe they won’t. But if the ball was last in their court, that is entirely up to them. You have done your all. Let it be.
I encourage you to play tennis with your friends.
You will then see who is worth all of that effort, who is worthy of your time and who isn’t. Your friendships become healthier, boundaries are built and self respect is learnt. What advice would you give a friend that’s doing all the running? Give yourself the same advice- play tennis and you will see healthier friendships form rather than focusing on the one sided ones.
What will be will be. And those that are meant to be in your life, will always hit that ball back, even if it takes a while sometimes.
Try and do this for the next month and see how you get on. Leave a comment below as I would love to hear your experience.
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