How Many of Your Friendships Pass the Marble Jar Test?

A simple way to tell if someone’s really a friend

Jennifer Haubrich


Photo by Sharon Pittaway on Unsplash

When my daughter was in elementary school, one of her teachers kept a jar of marbles on her desk. She put marbles in the jar when the class behaved. When they didn’t, she took some marbles out. When the jar was full, the teacher would give the class extra recess time or a special treat.

The number she added or subtracted from the jar depended on the class’ behavior. Sometimes it was a few. Other times it was more.

I wished I had thought of this when my daughters were younger. I could have done the same at home!

A marble jar is also a good way to think of your friendships.

Since then, I’ve encouraged my girls to think of each of their friendships as having a jar. Sometimes the way our friend treats us fills our friendship jar up. Sometimes it empties it.

The frequency and amount a friend fills and empties our friendship jar tell you what kind of friend they are. And if they even are one.

Why do we need friendship jars?

We can’t expect our friends to be perfect. It doesn’t matter if they are 5, 15, or 55 years old.

It’s a rare person who only fills your jar. (Not even a spouse or best friend does that.)

Imagining a friendship jar helps you decide whether the friendship is real and worth continued effort. Or if it’s time to let it go.

True friends are not easy to come by.

This was something I didn’t realize growing up. I was too trusting, perhaps too gullible.

I don’t want my girls to be the same way. So I’ve told them the truth: they probably won’t get through high school with more true, close friends than they can count on one hand.

And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean they’re doing anything wrong.

The same can be said for the rest of our lives too!

In fact, surveys reveal this is true. 61 percent of Americans have three or fewer close friends.

Close friendships are not the only ones that…



Jennifer Haubrich

It's all about relationships, with ourselves, others, and the world. Trying to live a better life. Sometimes funny.