How often do you find yourself let down or maybe feeling confused about some of the relationships in your club? It is easy to get off track even in the most stable relationships, so why should the MC family be different? Here are my Top Ten picks to keep your relationships in tip-top shape:
1. Pick up the phone
Nothing does a brotherhood better than a proper chat. Don't be tempted to rely only on email, text or social media. We may look tough on the outside, and maybe even someone who looks like they do not need a caring connection; but a little kindness goes a long way.
2. Don't be cryptic
So your brother forgot your anniversary or didn't call when they said they would? You have two clear choices: tell them straight that you are upset about it, or let it go. Using passive aggression or sulking in an attempt to indirectly get your message across is often the first step on the road to a long-term fall-out. Is it really that important?
3. Shift your expectations
Not everyone thinks or feels the same as you do 'People often show appreciation in the way they'd like to receive it,' says psychotherapist Karen Meager (monkeypuzzletraining.co.uk). 'For example, one person may show she cares by giving her time, another by giving a gift. If you receive a gift when you really value time, you may feel disappointed. But remember, your friend does care: she's just showing it in a different way.'
4. Keep your brothers in the loop
If you're going through a tough time – poor health, relationship problems, financial strife, for example – it's easy to feel isolated from your brothers and convince yourself they're not there for you, when you really need them. But they won't know what's going on, or what you need from them, unless you inform them. Besides, life is full of good times and bad times – and it could be that your brother hasn't touched base with you, simply because they are going through a tough time as well.
5. Admit you don't have the words
When a brother has experienced major loss, it's normal to want to find the perfect words to fix it. When those choice words don’t magically fall out of our mouths, many of us feel useless and choose to fall back instead. The truth, of course, is that sometimes there are no words – and in those times we need our brothers more than ever.
6. Don't over-promise things
You know that brother who always has himself in two places at once, shows up late or cancels at the last minute most of the time? That gets old really fast, make sure you are not that guy. 'If you have a tendency to get exhausted with too many obligations to people, learn to say no,' says psychotherapist Suzy Dittmar from The Priory Group.
7. If you need help ask for it
Sometimes, psychological factors such as being timid or lack of assertiveness can create wedges in our families. 'Don't be held back by feelings of rejection or misplaced guilt,' advises Dittmar. 'A few sessions with a therapist, or even a heart-to-heart with a really good friend, can make a big difference.'
8. Leave the past behind
What has happened in the past is important – but don't let those past moments adversely affect the new friendships you form now. 'That's the beauty of building friendships when we're older,' says Levancuka. 'There's no need to share your entire life story. You're making friends to share new moments, not to regurgitate what's happened in the past. So keep your skeletons where they belong: in the closet.'
9. Do not completely close the door
'If a friendship feels too one-sided, it may have run its course,' admits Meager. 'Backing off a bit and giving the other person some space is sometimes the best way to test whether the relationship is truly over. But friendships can dip in and out over time. If you're not in touch for a while, it doesn't mean you're not important: your friend may just have other things going on right now.'
10. Treat yourself with the same love as you would your closest brother
If you are the person who is always there for your brothers and you are the one to put yourself out for everyone else, you're heading for burn-out. 'So be kind to yourself,' says life coach Sophia Davis, adviser for Bach Flower Remedies. 'Heartfelt connections are the real ones worth keeping, and they can only happen when you let your guard down and just be yourself. True friends understand each other and forgive one another's flaws.'
This list isn’t the final authority on what makes brotherhood work but it is a start. Use these tips to help guide you through the tough times and you will see the benefits immediately.