6 Ways to Be a Friend Without Involving Money, Gifts or Obligation

Being a friend is a serious, but welcome and pleasant, responsibility. And it’s one that shouldn’t rely on the burdens of expense and obligation. True, friends often exchange gifts and go to expense for each other as a matter of course. But this isn’t, or shouldn’t be, perceived as a requirement.

istock_000004547005xsmall.jpgTrue friendship is a combination of support, encouragement, pleasure and relaxation. Friendship is a consciously created environment within which two or more people can help each other, enjoy each other’s company and free themselves from the cares and pains of the outside world. It is a source of accountability without judgment, love without presumption and peace without neglect.

Being a good friend isn’t always easy. But it is always rewarding, and often returns far more than any effort you put into it. You don’t have to have money or power to be a friend. In fact, here are several ways you can be a friend for free, and without any strings attached. You could sew a gift for them using your best sewing machine.

Listen. A good friend is always willing to listen, without forcing their own narrative or judgment on what’s being said. Your opinion may be asked, but it may not. Take your cues on giving advice from your friend’s invitations, rather than from your own urges.

Be supportive. One of the best aspects of friendship is the degree of support it creates. It allows us to pursue things we might be afraid to take on alone, and it gives us a safe place to land if we fall. You don’t have to agree with everything your friend does in order to provide support – the key is to respect and support the person, if not their choices (although you should be upfront and clear if they’re asking for support for something you simply cannot go along with, for whatever reason).

Be a light. When times are bad, a friend knows how to brighten things up (and when to step back and let grief or sadness take its path). A friend knows how to bring out the best in their companions and in themselves, and is someone to look up to and who looks up to (and after) us.

Do the hard stuff. Being a friend means doing things like going out at 3am to take your friend to the doctor or helping them deal with the paperwork after a loved one dies. These times aren’t fun, but they form some of the strongest and most important bonds of friendship.

Hang out. It seems obvious to many of us, but some people feel that friendship always involves doing something (and usually, this means spending money). In reality, sometimes the best way to spend the day is simply hanging out with your friends doing not much of anything. No pressure, no time limits, no stress – just a bunch of like-minded folks enjoying each other’s company.

Commit random acts of fun. Send your friend a crazy postcard with a funny message. Call and leave a joke on their answering machine. Take a favorite photo of theirs and turn it into wallpaper for their computer. Random acts of fun are a sure way to inject levity into any friendship. Just be sure that what you’re doing really is fun for everyone – for example, some people find practical jokes the height of humor, while others hate them.

Thanks to Widow’s Quest for including this post in the Carnival of Positive Thinking, to Vanilla Joy for publishing this article in the Carnival of Family Life, and to Tip Diva for featuring this post in the Carnival of Tips.

11 Comments on “6 Ways to Be a Friend Without Involving Money, Gifts or Obligation”

  • My best (female) friend is a married, Jewish, mother of three.
    On the surface, we have virtually nothing in common.
    She regularly thinks I’m weird and I think she’s weird.
    Well, she is kinda weird.

    Our lives, cultures, religious beliefs and backgrounds couldn’t be more different.
    When I first met her I didn’t get her… at all.
    When I got to know her (and get her) I realised that, although we’re different, we are really the same; same values, same beliefs (about many things), similar interests and similar philosophies and ideas on many significant issues.

    So the most unlikely person ever…. became my best friend.
    And she has taught me more than I could ever have imagined and my life is infinitely better for having her in it.
    When I’m an idiot, she tells me.
    I love that.

  • Good post David.
    The quote of the week that I sent out this week was: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can make in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” It’s so true!

    I have a very good friend who just died last week. He was the best example of what a friend is that I have ever seen. He taught to never to give advice unless asked for or in an emergency and to always avoid the word “you” unless giving directions that are asked for. One of the qualities that made him such a good friend was that he loved and accepted everyone nonjudgementally despite their faults. I have already posted a little about what made him so great and rare. I will be posting a tribute to him soon and I will be following that with a lot more about him. I wish everyone could have known him as a friend.

  • [...] B. Bohl presents 6 Ways to Be a Friend Without Involving Money, Gifts or Obligation posted at Slow Down Fast Today!, saying, “Being a friend is a serious, but welcome and [...]

  • For me true friendship is about making a commitment to be a friend to an other(s). The type of commitment I mean is that which is made in an instant rather than over a period of time when the other is deemed to be shaping up to a perceived standard. True friendship being a life-long commitment made to the other(s) until or unless the other(s) sever it. It is unconditional so does not rely on the other being a specific type, gender, status, appearance etc. I see no giver or receiver in true friendship, it just is.

  • Susanna,

    What a wonderful world this would be if we could always be transparent and offer ourselves unconditionally! In the mean time, we can do what we can and as you’ve suggested.

    David

  • What’s stopping us! there’s no time like the present. I discovered that when there is no more fear of loss then transparency happens and that’s where we truly learn to live.

  • Thanks for participating in this week’s Carnival of Family Life hosted at Vanilla Joy. The Carnival will be live tomorrow, Monday, April 21, 2008, so stop by and check out all of the other wonderful submissions!

  • Susanna,

    I’m not waiting for anyone or anything.

    David

  • [...] B. Bohl presents 6 Ways to Be a Friend Without Involving Money, Gifts or Obligation posted at Slow Down Fast Today!, saying, “Being a friend is a serious, but welcome and [...]

  • [...] B. Bohl presents 6 Ways to Be a Friend Without Involving Money, Gifts or Obligation posted at Slow Down Fast [...]

  • [...] really liked the last tip in 6 Ways to Be a Friend Without Involving Money, Gifts or Obligation, posted at Slow Down Fast. I like random acts of just about anything, and fun will surely [...]

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