There are in my life those friendships that run deep and rich and pure and true. And I have done absolutely nothing to make them happen.
These are my “low-maintenance friendships.”
They are made up of people who are by no means the most important individuals in my life, nor do they expect or demand to be. But they are very often among those I have shared my most honest moments with. But how did this happen? How did they come to be? And what are the common, core elements at the heart of these enduring, intimate relationships?
1. Shared values, but not necessarily shared beliefs. Beliefs are ideas that we embrace as true. Values are ideals we strive to attain. Beliefs are the boundaries. Values are the propeller. Beliefs keep us in our personal bounds, but without shared values, we’re just a bunch of people fenced in together going nowhere. And believe me, I have known people who have shared my beliefs but have been some of the most labor-intensive relationships of my life.
3. They are in my life, but not the center of it. I know, understand, accept and expect that my low-maintenance friends have those in their lives far more important to them than me, and vice versa. And we’re okay with that. In fact, low-maintenance relationships do not measure or worry about self much at all. Which makes them all that much more endearing.
4. They give rather than reciprocate. A low-maintenance friend just gives in the way that they give and accepts the gifts without demanding that what is given matches what was received. Low-maintenance relationships don’t keep score.
5. They yield to “No thank you.”
When one person in a low-maintenance relationship says “no thank you” to a gift or invitation, the other accepts it and leaves it at that. They do not insist on a reason or continue badgering and bullying. Or fret over why.
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6. They hinge on trust. A trust that you can present yourself just as you are, the good and the bad, fully knowing that the other person may not love the bad, but despite this, they will continue loving you.
7. They are not propped up by rules and expectations. They reach up hoping for the best, but are grounded in reality. Low-maintenance relationships leave room for disappointment, but are not devastated by it.
8. They exist in the absence of jealousy.
Those in low-maintenance friendships are truly happy for one another. And on the rare occasion they struggle to be, they keep their distance until they can get it together and not rain on the other person’s radiance. They are also not threatened by or slighted by that friend’s time or relationship with another. Some are closer than others and they all have their seasons. And they don’t fret when they see the leaves start to fall from time or distance. They trust spring will come again.
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9. They keep in contact because they choose to, not out of obligation. They also don’t go into a tailspin when there isn’t an immediate response. They know that life is being lived, even when they are not there.
And most importantly and possibly most simply…
10. Low maintenance relationships know that it is what it is for as long as it is. And that’s okay. Amazing how it takes the pressure off and just lets us be ourselves so much more easily.
And no, not every relationship in our lives should be low maintenance. But, I highly recommend having at least a few that are. This world is demanding enough without our supposed “friends” piling on! For the times we celebrate by going off on an adventure to do something fabulous. Or just sit at the kitchen table drinking a glass of wine while your Kindergartener drags out everything they own to show their “guest,” while tap dancing and begging for stories about “when they were little” while you roll your eyes and know that I get you. Because I do. And you me. And we’re good with it, just as it is.
So to my low maintenance friends, I sing your praises!