Definitions were clear-cut. They can be black and white, for the most part, per person. They’re static in that way. What follows is how definitions interact with real-world relationships. You can express that definition ad nauseam but people will fulfill it to differing degrees. This is because inherent to people having unique definitions is their expressing friendship in their own unique way. Therefore, each friend requires their own specific set of expectations.

Expectations are, in a sense, definitions in action.

That being said, the idea of this specific newsletter is not to give you a “10-item list” that will cover all bases of expectations in friendship. We have found that regardless of how well you identify and articulate the expectations you have with people, the true challenge is managing those changing expectations from friend to friend while you remain the same. That is hard.

You are the same person who wants the same things but you will get completely different things from different people.

In any relationship, awareness of friction, along with friction in itself, will tell you what your expectations are. Because of this, you don't need to constantly have conversations about expectations. When you encounter friction, it is important to note it, think about it, and open a dialogue about it. About how to reduce, and hopefully eliminate that specific instance of friction.

We cannot forget that people change frequently. What someone wanted last year may not be what they want this year.

Over the last four or five years, Ayo and I have had at least, but probably more than, yearly iterations of how we can reduce friction in our friendship. New problems arise and new solutions and compromises must arise with them or resentment follows closely behind.

This sort of adaptation can be similar to owning a plant. It requires different amounts of water and light depending on its specific genetic makeup. Over time, if nurtured and cared for adequately, the plant will grow. With growth comes its own set of problems. Plants will outgrow their pots, require different soil, and sometimes require a vestigial structure to prevent them from drooping over.

Humans are infinitely more complex than plants; we should treat friendships with the same sort of research, care, and attention.

ACTION: Take note of an instance of friction from a relationship in your world. From that, analyze the things you expect in a friendship. Bonus points if you take that into a conversation.

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