1. Don’t continue to pursue someone who isn’t interested. You are wasting your time, energy and reputation – and you look ridiculous. There are 7 billion people on planet earth, and there are mentors who will lead you on, followers you will lead on, and peers who will inspire and help you see things from another point of view everywhere. Stop chasing the people not interested, and you will have time for those people who are there for you. Sometimes we are so concerned about being friendless, we allow people to act as really bad friends because we do not think that we could ever find better friends.
2, Don’t ever feel guilty about setting boundaries in your life. Don’t let people chuck their rubbish in your garden this year. Don’t become an enabler by allowing someone’s selfishness to ruin your life. Setting strong boundaries is not unloving, it is true love. You need to kindly let people know what you are prepared to do, and what you are not prepared to do.
3. Have fun! Part of why we have relationships is to have fun, and enjoy each other’s company. Rest and relaxation is not ungodly, and having fun with people is not wrong. Sometimes we have to choose the people whose company we enjoy and go and enjoy their company. True friendships are low-maintenance, you don’t have to worry about what you say or how you say it… when you find friends like that, take time to celebrate them!
4. Be grateful. When people do things that encourage you, help you, or just show they are thinking of you – make sure you take the time to thank them. Gratitude is the oil of good relationships.
5. Practise empathy. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own world we forget about other people’s situations. What may be a small thing from your point of view might be important to someone else. The only real way to find out is to spend time listening to other people.
6. Keep feeding the cow. In the parable of the prodigal son that Jesus told, the son basically told his dad to drop dead and give me all your money. There are still people like that today – they don’t want a relationship with you, they simply want the benefits of being in a relationship with you; sometimes that is money, sometimes it is reputation, sometimes it is just so they can feel good about themselves. People like that will always let you down. Like I said in point 1, don’t go chasing people like that. But eventually the son came to his senses and came home. Then he didn’t get judged or condemned, he got loved and cared for. In fact, the dad killed the fatted calf and held a huge party. So, even when you have been treated badly, always keep the door open – people can change, and can surprise you. Not often, but it does happen! Be prepared for a party.