Highland Park mom Melanie Ross Mills has seen the ups and downs of friendship throughout her life. Little did she know those experiences would add up to research for one of her greatest projects.
“I’ve had [friendships] that have really hurt me that have been the most powerful,” Mills said, “and then I’ve had the ones that have proved to me that I can trust with my heart, which is challenging for me to do.”
Mills has turned those experiences into The Friendship Bond, a book that goes through different types of friendships, helping women identify their levels of closeness and how to strengthen those relationships. She’s also penned a companion volume, Dates With Friends.
“My heart is really for this community,” she said of the Park Cities. “My hope is to really impact our mindsets and our hearts in a way that changes the way we relate to one another and the way that we see ourselves.”
A wife and mother of one, Mills also has a background studying temperament analysis.
“I learned, basically, how unique everyone is but at the same time we have these same basic needs for love, significance, and security,” she said. “And when I learned that, it was a huge ‘a-ha’ moment for me because I realized that this is what brings us together.”
Mills has conducted a series of group discussions related to the topics she addresses in her books. One of her closest friends has already seen the benefit.
“That’s probably the biggest thing I got out of the book, was that it’s OK to compartmentalize your friends,” said Kim Gatlin, author of a well-known book about fractured friendships, Good Christian Bitches. “You want to be the best friend to that person that you’re capable of being, but that doesn’t mean that you’ve got to be everybody’s best friend.”
Mills is planning several follow-up books, including The Marriage Bond, The Mom Bond, and The Cancer Bond. But the friendship edition is her self-publishing debut.
“It’s a quick, easy read, and people are going to be very pleasantly surprised how much they get out of it,” Gatlin said.
For Mills, the process has all been about fostering lasting connections.
“If we can, even just from my little book, get some kind of nugget that you can take with you that promotes life-giving around you, that’s when we really bond,” she said. “It’s really amazing that humans can have the capacity to love that way.”