What does it mean to be a friend, to have a friend? Is friendship merely social, having someone to have fun with, to avoid loneliness? Or is it deeper?
When two people interact on a regular basis, what quality is it that transforms that acquaintance into a friend? Although the “chemistry” we often feel, the attraction, can’t be clearly defined, in part it is due to common interests and shared experiences. But more importantly, the development of friendship appears to be more about intimacy and self-disclosure in a give-and-take relationship. As the quote below says, a friend is someone with whom you feel safe and can be fully authentic, honest about feelings and thoughts. You have an instinct, an intuition with each other, understanding when and what to share.
This kind of intimacy in friendship is also about honesty and trust. A true friend will be honest even at risk of damaging the friendship, when the honesty is about serious impairments to happiness. A true friend lovingly confronts the other regarding an addiction, for instance, or a relationship that is causing harm, in an attempt to help.
Friendship is also about your place in society. A friend acts as a mirror, supporting how we see ourselves in the world. Your friends are by nature more apt to share common activities and bonds and have a similar world view.
“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” Anon.
We develop friendships early in life, but it is rare to maintain a deep friendship from youth to adulthood. As we attain adulthood our world view, our understandings, and our emotions all evolve, and so the shared bond between friends evolves as well. Usually the emotional and societal connections fade as friends change and we develop new relationships based on where we are in the present.
Cherish your friendships, as they support you mind, body and soul. And if you have trouble making and sustaining fulfilling friendships, we’re always here to help.