I have a history of difficult friendships. In my early years, I would go so far as characterizing myself as a bad friend. A sampling of my friendship highlight reel:
When a small group of friends failed to do things my way at a birthday party, I hid in the closet until they all left. It was my own birthday party.
I called a really sweet girl an ugly name behind her back—and to her face.
A frenemy called me out for a “meet me in the parking lot after school” face-off. To this day, I don’t know what I did to prompt that. (I didn’t go. Confrontation has never been my thing.)
After being wrongly accused of something I didn’t do, I retreated and never faced the issue head-on. Better to lose a friend than deal with something awkward. (See, I have issues with confrontation.)
I felt threatened by another friend’s gifts and subsequently put the brakes on our friendship.
Sadly, I could go on. While these friendship trespasses are from my past, I still dabble in the practice of bad friendship. I can go an entire sports season sitting alone in the bleachers without talking to another fellow mom. My feelings get hurt if a busy friend doesn’t get back to me on my timeline. I can still feel threatened by a friend’s success (and show it by not “liking” their photographic evidence—take that!).
I should know better. We should all know better. You’d think we would have this friendship thing figured out by now. But we still struggle with friendship, don’t we? We get our feelings hurt and hurt others. We clamor to befriend women at the cool table and retreat from hard relationships.
Lisa-Jo Baker is no stranger to the nuances of female friendships. As community manager for (in)courage, Lisa-Jo gets an inside look at all the things that work—and don’t work—in relationships. She collected all of that wisdom, advice from notable authors, and compelling personal anecdotes to bring us the textbook on friendship. Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships should be on the bookshelf of every woman.
In Never Unfriended, Lisa-Jo explores the deep, choppy waters of the female heart. She explains why we feel this intense need for friendship and why it is so easy to get hurt. Understanding why helps us figure out how.
She shies away from a friendship to-do list and, instead, explains the principles of lasting friendships. For example:
“The shortest distance between strangers and friends is a shared story about our broken places.”
“Real friendship will insist on getting past that front door of perfection until it finds that closet or drawer that’s stuffed full of our junk and it will insist on opening it.”
“The act of offering yourself and your faith to a friend who’s lost hers is an act of heroism, plain and simple.”
“A sure antidote to comparison is encouragment.”
Lisa-Jo also explains why I failed at friendship in my younger years (and why I still struggle today).
“Without forgiveness, friendship becomes extinct and relationship nonexistent.”
“We have worshiped at the altar of inclusion when we were built to worship at the altar of the only living God.”
“We like manipulation because it looks a lot like love, and it comes with the guarantee that we get what we want out of a relationship.”
“Friendship can’t survive in an atmosphere of control. We can’t connect when we’re setting all the terms.”
This book is for you if…
If friendship is difficult
If you’ve ever wanted a close friend
If you’ve ever been hurt by or hurt a friend
If you feel lost in a crowd
If you’re waiting to achieve perfection before inviting others in
If you just want to do friendship better
If you want to know what it’s like to never be unfriended
Pick up a copy of Lisa-Jo Baker’s friendship textbook, Never Unfriended. Read is straight through, or use is as a reference. Read it with a group of friends, or soak it in slowly by yourself. Share it with your teen daughter, and teach it to your middle-school girls.
Let’s learn how to be good friends together.
For more information including sample chapters, visit NeverUnfriended.com.
All quotes are from Lisa-Jo Baker, Never Unfriended.
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